Load Previous
Gloria Mendoza (Selenis Leyva)
Jill Greenberg for Netflix3/15

Gloria Mendoza (Selenis Leyva)

Backstory: It’s hard not to sympathize with Mendoza: On the outside, she owned a bodega, running a food stamp scam on the side, and also suffered through an abusive relationship. After her boyfriend hits one of her kids, she decides to leave — but gets turned in and thrown in the slammer instead. (The boyfriend got his, though, when he tries to steal Mendoza’s cash from her store and it mysteriously burns down...with him inside.)
Place in Litchfield's hierarchy: As the de facto leader of the "Spanish Harlem" crew, Mendoza has plenty of power — so much so that when Red is taken off kitchen duty, Mendoza becomes Head Chef.
Pre-OITNB: Earlier in her career, Leyva was on the other side of the law: She played Detective Mariluz Rivera on Law & Order, along with roles in Blue Bloods and The Following.
Best line: "Prison is gluten. Don't commit the crime if you can't fucking have flour."