EXCLUSIVE: 'Orange Is the New Black' Star Alysia Reiner Talks About the Show's Ending: 'I Feel Grief'

Alysia Reiner, who plays Fig on the iconic Netflix show talks season 7, activism, and the souvenir she took home from the set

July 25, 2019

(Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for AMC)

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(B101) - Who remembers when "Orange is the New Black" premiered all those years ago? The Eagles hadn't won a Super Bowl. No one had ever heard of Baby Shark. And it was weird to have all the episodes of a tv show out all at once.

And "OITNB" did so much to change the world, with its focus on women, particularly women of color, particularly women of color in the corrections system. There hasn't really been anything like it since.

And it's all over! The final season, Season 7, premiered on Friday.

If you're an "OITNB" fan, you know who Fig is, and you probably love to hate her (or hate to love her, a little bit, like me, and we'll get to that in the interview!). She's Natalie "Fig" Figueroa, the tough-as-nails former Warden's Assistant then Warden of Litchfield Prison.

She's a character that's infuriatingly callous as an antagonist to the rest of the cast, but also a product of trying to work within a system that's rigged against pretty much everyone in it. I read a recap where the writer called her "the cobra-eyed Cersei of my heart" which sums her up perfectly.

But Alysia Reiner, who plays her, is pretty much the complete opposite. Warm, friendly, incredibly invested in helping to continue the legacy of the show and broadening the change it inspires.

She came to B101's studio and we got to sit down for an interview that covered a wide range of things, and, like "OITNB" itself, got into some weighty topics but also had fun.

I did get to see the season earlier in the week to prep for this (when you watch and wanna talk but your friends aren't caught up, @ me!) and I asked Reiner about how she felt about the ending. "I feel grief," Reiner said.

Watch the full interview below as we talk about the emotional journey of the show in the current political climate, what it's like playing a woman like Natalie Figueroa, and the one thing of Fig's that she kept from the set.

We even imagined what it would be like if Fig had lunch with Brené Brown. The vulnerability! The cobra-eyed death stares! Netflix please get to work on that spinoff.