“This season a grenade has gone off and Taystee pulled the pin,” exclaims Danielle Brooks as she describes secrets of what awaits viewers in season five of Netflix’s hit show “Orange is the New Black” (watch our exclusive video above) this June. In her recent webchat (watch our exclusive video above), she adds that “the power shift has changed and the prisoners are now in control.”
Playing Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson on the prison set drama has been a career-changing experience for Brooks. The upcoming new season debuting on June 9 takes place over three days, and Brooks is hoping that fans of the show will really enjoy the new power structure on the show: “They are taking away having the guards and staff set up everything with the women’s lives and now the prisoners setting up a new dynamic.”
This giant prison riot and power shift all stems from last season’s penultimate episode when Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley) is accidentally suffocated by one of the guards. Brooks, who has known Wiley for 10 years, could only describe shooting those scenes as “super-duper intense” and on a whole different level for her since she was also in the midst of intense rehearsals for the revival of “The Color Purple” on Broadway. She remembers that while filming the scene, she “couldn’t help feeling the weight of what we were dealing with. It was so potent in the air.” She also admitted to crying after watching the season finale that served as a celebration of Poussey’s life.
Brooks also got a surprise this past February when she won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album as one of the principle soloists on “The Color Purple” along with Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson and Tony winner Cynthia Erivo. She said that the experience of it all made her feel like “I was on Cloud 500!” Brooks added, “I was so grateful to be recognized in that way and felt like all of my hard work was paying off; I was actually building something.”
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