Exclusive! Dascha Polanco on Her Toughest Scene from Orange Is the New Black, and What to Expect This Season

Dascha Polanco - InStyle June 2015
Photo: Sarah Balch for InStyle.com

Who else is tired from staying up to stream the new episodes of Orange Is the New Black last night? (Bring on the depuffing eye cream!) Dascha Polanco, who plays Dayanara Diaz on the show, has had a particularly interesting character arc over the previous two seasons. From the finaugural episode, Polanco's character is bound for conflict: she and her tetchy mother both find themselves at Litchfield. Factor in a certain romance with a prison officer, and the drama only built from there. During her visit to the InStyle offices, Polanco spoke to us about the evolution of her character, the most-memorable scene she's shot so far, and of course, what to expect this season—that is, if you haven't already finished binge-watching all 13 episodes.

"I relate to Daya with certain things, like being a hopeless romantic and not holding any grudges, but the rest of it, I'm just like, 'I will not judge my character!'' she says, laughing. Polanco also gets quite a bit of free reign. Especially during the lunchroom scenes, there's some improvisation and natural reactions folded in— plus, everyone receives their script only a week or two prior to filming the episode. "It's very unpredictable, and I like that. It keeps us on our toes, it keeps things spontaneous, and the reactions are more natural," Polanco says.

Dascha Polanco - InStyle June 2015 - 2
Sarah Balch for InStyle.com

Certain scenes, though, can be tougher than others. One pivotal scene between Daya and creepy prison guard George "Pornstache" Mendez (played by actor Pablo Schrieber) in particular was one where the star had to give herself a pep talk prior to filming. "When I knew I had to get naked, it was a process for me. Me, image-wise, I've always had an issue growing up, so for me to be on TV with it, I was like—whoa, I'm showing the world my insecurities right now," says Polanco. "It was a lot of like, 'Dascha, how much do you love this? I love this a lot and I want to be on this show. I signed something from the beginning saying I'd be willing to do whatever, so I just have to suck it up!'" Needless to say, she pulled off the scene like the true professional she is.

Still, Polanco skips over her scenes when watching the show. "I'm so self-critical, but I'm evolving and maturing," she explains. It's something she's also working on. "It's okay to be different, it's okay to be this size. I'm sure a lot of women can relate to me in that sense," she says.

As for what season 3 holds? With a baby on the way for her character and new inmates being introduced, it certainly promises to be just as gripping as the previous two. "There are a lot of harsh realities, and there will be a lot of drama. There's still a comedic element to it, definitely, but everyone will be surprised with what's to come," Polanco tells us. "The love story is still there, she's still pregnant, but there's still not any closure yet. The same way the second season ended, this one will end with a bigger question mark, so it will be interesting to see how people react."

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