A name you are sure to be hearing a lot more about is. Making her debut Season 6 of Netflix’s ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, Rebecca will be capturing attention as the new face at Litchfield Penitentiary as Tina Swope. Rebecca is also quite a songstress and sings with a fearlessness that just mesmerizes. In an exclusive interview, Rebecca previews her role in ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK and shares what key lessons she has learned as a performer as her multi-faceted career grows.
What was the initial appeal for you in portraying Tina and working on Netflix’s ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK?
REBECCA: I remember reading the character description when I got the audition and I thought, “Oh yeah, I get this girl. I can play her. Tina is me and I am Tina.”
How would you describe who Tina is in the series?
REBECCA: She is a tough little thing. She knows what she wants and she will do whatever it takes to get it.
What do you most admire about her?
REBECCA: She is open to change.
What is it like working alongside the talented ensemble on ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK?
REBECCA: Incredible. I had watched the show religiously before I booked the job, so being on set with actors I had only seen on my computer screen was a trip. It is empowering to work with so many talented women.
Who do you get to work with most in the series and what is that experience like?
REBECCA: I worked with Natasha Lyonne (Nicky) and Yael Stone (Lorna) of the original cast most. Those two have always been my favorite characters; so working with them was SO great. They are powerful presences who have been acting for far longer than I have so playing off of them taught me a lot about finding my own strength.
Any favorite scenes that you can share from working on the show?
REBECCA: You’ll just have to wait and see!
What challenges did you face in portraying a character who is incarcerated and how did you overcome them?
REBECCA: What was most important for me going into it was having my research down. There is a wealth of material online where you can hear the voices and stories of incarcerated women. What is beautiful about the show is how it humanizes those women and raises awareness. I loved Tina Swope’s story from the start and wanted to do her justice. So I did my research and listened to women’s stories about similar experiences.
Has your character Tina’s journey left an impression on you in your life? If so, in what way?
REBECCA: Yes! She has taught me compassion. She isn’t perfect— and she may be struggling— but she still manages to find joy and evolve. She inspires me to be positive and keep pushing through any dark times I may face.
As an actor, what has been the one thing you have taken away from the experience of working on ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK?
REBECCA: How much I love what I do! This experience has made me hungry. I cannot wait to see what the future holds.
What is your proudest achievement working on ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK?
REBECCA: I think my proudest achievement is working on ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. My role was challenging because I had to do research to understand her. And for me, that is the most exciting acting work I could do.
You also worked on CBS’ BULL. What did you enjoy about working on that project?
REBECCA: Being that I was quite new to acting in the TV world, it was wonderful how everyone on set was so kind and communicative. I still have friends who work on the set even after the fact. It’s interesting; the role I played on BULL, Katrina, ends up being incarcerated in the end. And now my next big role is an incarcerated woman. I think it’s a funny (but also lovely) coincidence.
What did you take away from that acting experience on BULL?
REBECCA: It taught me how to hold my own on a big set. I finished the job and I knew I could act and continue to act— and I could handle being on set with the big players.
What has surprised you most about your career so far?
REBECCA: Everything. There is so much uncertainty in the film/TV world, and no way of knowing where you will land, and I am overjoyed to be where I am now. It has all been one surprise after another.
At this stage of your career, what do you think you have learned from the roles and projects you have worked on?
REBECCA: I’ve learned to take on every character, no matter what size, with the same energy and curiosity. I have had the great opportunity to portray an array of roles and I have grown from each experience. There is no “big” or “small” role to me- they are all of equal importance and deserve the same love and care as the next.
What are the perks of where you are in your career right now?
REBECCA: I am so excited to have worked on a set with people I admire so much and I learned a tremendous amount about what it means to be on set and what is expected of actors. I am grateful for the people I have met. There are huge perks to working with experienced actors and having them as a part of your support team!
Has there been any great advice you have gotten about working as an actor?
REBECCA: The best advice I got was from Meryl Streep. YES! I met her. I went to the Florence Foster Jenkins premiere in East Hampton in 2016 with director Volker Schlöndorff (whose film I was in, “Return To Montauk”) and she was there. The reception was just a few of us at a restaurant. I mustered up the courage to speak to her and I was comprised of butterflies and word-vomit. She put her hand to my cheek, looked me in the eyes and said: “Rebecca, you are beautiful. But this is a hard job. So work hard. That’s what you must do.” It felt like I was blessed by a goddess and ever since then, I have been grinding. She gave me courage and it was one of the most important moments of my life.
What advice would you offer to other upcoming and aspiring actors?
REBECCA: Keep going. Auditioning is a difficult part of the job, but when you start approaching auditions from a place of fun and pure enjoyment — rather than pressure and expectations, it becomes much easier. I’ve been on many auditions where I wouldn’t hear back— that’s OK. When the right job comes around, casting knows it. Keep studying. Watch what your colleagues are making, and write your own material.
At a time when women’s voices are rising to be heard and respected around the country and world, what do you recommend your fans do to lend support in that endeavor?
REBECCA: Pay attention to what is being said. For the women: Speak up! Be comfortable with saying no, and write your own stories.
Do you have any other upcoming projects that you can share that fans should keep an eye out for?
REBECCA: Yes! I am currently in pre-production for a short film I wrote, “Cavity,” set to be filmed at the end of June. I also starred in a short, “Strangers at Night,” written/directed by Ian Adelson, which is being submitted into festivals as we speak.
To see Rebecca make her mark at Litchfield, be sure to tune in for Season 6 of ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, set to premiere this year on Netflix. To learn more about Rebecca, you can check out her website: http://therebeccaknox.com