The leading lady in Netflix's latest original series shares her best stay-fit secrets
Netflix's hot new original series Orange is the New Black follows WASPy, blonde Piper Chapman's life in prison—the disgusting lifestyle, the difficult life adjustments, and the wild relationships of the other inmates. The show has taken the entertainment world by storm since its release on July 11, so much so we’re guessing you’ve already binged on all 13 episodes (because we totally have). And if you haven’t seen it yet, you seriously need to hit play. Since we clearly can't get enough of the addictive new show, we went one-on-one with leading lady Taylor Schilling to get the scoop on the upcoming season, what it’s like shooting all those nude scenes, and her secrets to looking so sexy underneath that not-so-sexy prison uniform and the minimal set makeup.
SHAPE: We have to admit we’re obsessed with your show. So many critics have been calling it the best original series on Netflix thus far. How does that make you feel?
Taylor Schilling (TS): Ahh, it’s so exciting! I am so excited that so many people are excited. Oh my god, it makes me feel like I’m awake in a dream! It’s such a cool thing because I personally just feel so proud about this project. I’ve never done anything that I’ve been so proud of, that has so many great stories to tell on so many levels that need to be told. This series does that, and I feel so glad to be a part of it. It’s all about real people, real stories, it’s genuine, and it’s honest. That’s what I’ve been craving, and it’s amazing to see that people are responding. It’s also so nice to finally see women on screen embracing themselves, and it’s really a breath of fresh air to see us portrayed so authentically.
SHAPE: And how exciting is it that shows on digital platforms like Netflix are finally getting recognized with Emmy nominations! About time, right?
TS: Netflix deserves this! They are taking risks on really cool, interesting projects. I’m so glad that’s being validated and recognized.
SHAPE: We know you’re in the middle of shooting the next season, so give us the scoop on what’s in store for season two. What can fans expect to see?
TS: Piper is really going to pick up where she left off. She’s transforming and finding parts of herself she had no idea existed. All the stories are going to go much deeper. I’m really excited about this season, it’s going to be even richer than the last one.
SHAPE: We’re dying to hear some hints on Piper’s love life! How will her relationship evolve with both Alex and Larry?
TS: (laughing) You know I can’t tell you! I have to do that annoying actor thing and say, ‘you’ll have to watch and see.’ I’ll just say that it keeps evolving and is definitely rooted in a lot of honesty.
SHAPE: Your character is certainly heating up the small screen with a lot of nude scenes in the series. Is that nerve-racking as an actress and did you do anything fitness-wise to prepare for the role?
TS: So nerve-racking. It’s just such a vulnerable state to be in and the first time I’ve ever done that on camera. I was definitely nervous. The most amazing thing happened, though. Once you do it, it’s this bizarre thing—after a couple of takes it becomes so comfortable. The set and cast is just so extraordinary I didn’t feel strange at all. Any reservations about my body, I just felt this is who I am as a woman. I take care of myself lovingly and caringly, without extreme measures, and I want to tell an honest story, so that means I also want to share my body honestly. I kind of made a conscious effort to not make it about my body but about the story instead. I don’t do detoxes or cleanses, they don’t really work for me. I have a really moderate, simple routine. I like to do yoga, Pilates, dance, and things like that. I didn’t change up my routine for the role. I wanted to be as I was.
SHAPE: Tell us more about your love of yoga, Pilates, and dance. How often do you have time to exercise with such a busy shooting schedule?
TS: I started doing yoga in college, so that has just become a staple of a self-care routine for my mind and my body. My body craves it at this point so I do it two to three times a week, sometimes more. I practice Vinyasa style yoga and sometimes mix it up. I also started Pilates on the reformer, which is really fun. I can literally feel my muscles working and being transformed. There are different classes I like to do at Equinox gyms. I especially like their early morning class called “Beats Extreme” where it’s just great music and you end up African dancing one day and something else the next. I just recently discovered how much I love dancing. I actually like pole dancing! It gives you so much confidence. I never thought I’d do it, but now I’m really into it.
SHAPE: What about your daily diet? I can imagine the craft service on set has to be way better than prison food!
TS: Honestly all the sweets and bad stuff on set don't really call to me because I'm working so much. I've trained myself to stay away from sugar. If I have it in the afternoon, I’ll have a major crash, which isn’t good when you have to shoot late into the evening. I keep it really simple. I know what feels good to eat and what doesn’t. I try to err on the side of choices I know will leave me feeling more energized and ready to go, because it’s always better to feel healthy.
SHAPE: What’s an example of an on-set menu for you, then?
TS: Everyone makes fun of me because I always have snacks around! Healthy snacks though, like a handful of almonds or an apple. I’ll usually have a couple of ounces of protein, like chicken or fish, sometimes tofu. I try to pair that with a starch and complex carb. Something like chicken, brown rice, and veggies. Or I’ll have fish, veggies, and quinoa.
SHAPE: What is your fitness philosophy?
TS: I try to come at fitness and nutrition from a perspective of gentleness and what will make me feel good afterwards. I try to stay out of the mindset of needing to fix myself. I do whatever seems fun to me. So it’s a philosophy of healthy enjoyment, but not fixing yourself.