As we all prepare for a weekend of binge-watching the third season of “Orange is the New Black” on June 12, our favorite inmates of Litchfield Penitentiary are coming out to spill their secrets from the yard. Recently I chatted with Laura Gómez — who plays Blanca Flores, the only prisoner smart enough to sneak in a cell phone — about season three and how exactly she transforms into Blanca. Spoiler alert: that tangled “El Diablo” look is her real hair.
YouBeauty: You’re the perfect person from “Orange” to interview about hair and makeup because your look is pretty dramatic. What was the process like to transform into Blanca? Is the hair a wig? What’s the makeup like?
Gomez: It’s actually my hair! I didn’t know I had so much hair until I got this job, but I do. The truth is, we have the most amazing hair and makeup department. I need to give them credit because they turned my little hair into that crazy mess that Blanca has. It’s not even that long a process. You would think it takes six hours. It’s only about 15 minutes.
I always joke on “Orange” that “I’m not ugly enough.” We do the opposite of glamorizing. That’s how we discovered my character’s unibrow. I think it’s a big part of the essence of Blanca. As an actor, you always look for that detail that makes this character stand out.
We were given descriptions of the personalities. The key makeup artist says “How about a unibrow?” And I said, “Ugh, okay, go ahead.”
So you didn’t know what Blanca was going to look like ahead of time?
Absolutely not. There’s no physical description. I’m sure the makeup and hair department has conversations with Jenji [Kohan, show creator] to get an idea. The process is a discovery. At the end of the day, it’s amazing how those individual people get together and help an actor create a character. That’s what happened with Blanca. Ultra beauty, but in an unconventional way.
Do you think Blanca looks the same when she’s out in the world, or are we seeing her prison style?
I’ve been wondering about that. At the beginning, it didn’t cross my mind. I was wondering how she got there, how she got to look so crazy. And it’s like, That’s true. She didn’t look this crazy all along. This is her defense mechanism in prison, to just let go. Obviously she’s not very sophisticated, that’s for sure. I don’t have a clear idea in my head, I let the writers decide.
Now that I know that it’s your hair, I’m even more curious… do you do damage control afterwards to get your hair back to normal?
Yes! I think that we all have very specific ways of caring for our hair. I really pay it back because I feel like I have used it so much. Right after, I have to soak it in conditioner. Like, I have to soak it.
Do you have any favorite products?
I mix and match. If I want to go for curly hair, it’s different than if I’m doing straight. I like Salerm, Nexus, Bumble and bumble, and I love products with avocado oil. In terms of beauty, I can’t go out without concealer and mascara.
Can you give any hints about what Blanca is up to in Season 3?
I can’t say much, but you’ll definitely see Blanca and her odd ways. I’m around with the Latina gang.
You also have an upcoming project at HBO – can you talk about it yet?
I absolutely can! It’s a mini-series called “Show Me a Hero” created by David Simon, who created “The Wire” and directed by Paul Haggis. It’s coming to HBO August 16th. It stars Oscar Isaac, Alfred Molina, a really amazing group of people. It’s really high caliber. I feel so privileged to have worked with such talented people.
Are there certain types of roles or projects that you’re drawn to?
I am, but I’m also lucky. Sometimes an actor doesn’t have a choice. You just have to work. Sometimes the material is just there and I’m lucky to have auditioned for these projects where people I’ve admired have been involved. Your job as an actor isn’t to judge, it’s just to do the work, but I’ve been extremely privileged.