This season, Australian model, TV personality, actress and musician Ruby Rose joins the cast of Orange Is the New Black as Stella, a sexy, mysterious stranger rumored to turn the show’s perennially troubled couple, Piper and Alex, into a love triangle. Rose, 29, auditioned hard for the part to get onto one of her favorite shows. “Especially for someone in the LGBT community, I don’t think there’s been a show that’s so true about the experience of being gay or lesbian or trans. It’s helping a lot of people discover who they are. And I think that’s magic — you don’t get that a lot on TV.”
Talking to Rose for our cover story on the new season of Orange, we grilled her about that controversial “failure” quote, the benefits of therapy and how she “has a crush on every single person on the show.” (You can also check out her short film on gender fluidity, “Break Free,” below.)
There were some reports online that you had concerns about Orange at first. Did you think it was going to be exploitative?
I cringe every time I see that quote; it was taken totally out of context. [Talking to Sunday Style Magazine, Rose was quoted as saying “The show is obviously brilliant, but it has women directors, writers and producers; it’s about women in a prison. Everything about it had ‘failure’ written on it.”] What I was saying was that in the acting industry in general and [given] what we’re provided in content on TV and in film, life in a women’s prison is not something that’s usually discussed or portrayed. And on top of that, the main characters are all female protagonists, it’s written by a lot of women and cast by women — everything about it is amazing. I imagine producers seeing it pop up and being like, “I don’t know about all this female power going on.” It’s definitely a minority in what we’re usually offered.
So you were a fan of the show?
I was a really big fan of the first two seasons. I was a little bit late on the first because I was not in the country; I just saw it going crazy on social media. So I turned it on on a Friday, and three days later, I’ve just watched an entire series of a TV program; I was like, “There has to be something wrong with me.” I had never binge-watched TV before Orange.
It’s just not something that you’d think would have value written all over it. You wouldn’t look at it and think, “That’s gonna be a hit.” You think that with superhero movies. There’s something on that show that everyone can relate to. That’s why it’s so successful.
Which character did you relate to?
I related to everyone in a way. There’s little bits of Alex and Piper I related to in my life — though probably more Alex. I have the cheekiness of Nicky, but then I’m like a hopeless romantic like Lorna [played be fellow Aussie Yael Stone]. There are parts of Poussey [played by Samira Wiley] that I connected with. But my character, Stella, is so similar in her mannerisms to me, and she’s very androgynous. It’s such a perfect fit.
Much has been made of the diversity, in every sense, of the cast; as a model, do you feel like you were a more traditional choice for TV?
[Scoffing] “Model.” I don’t think of myself as a model. I’m genderqueer, and I’ve got tattoos. Since I got the part some people have asked me what it’s like to be the hottest girl on the show, and I’m like, “What? That’s not true, at all.” Every single woman on that show is so sexy — it’s really kind of crazy. Poussey is such a babe. Alex is out of control. Nicky has a thing about her. Every one of these girls has different sex appeal, whether they’re vulnerable, or whatever it is. I have a crush on every single person on the show, much to my fiancée’s amusement. And then when you get to know them off camera it’s even worse because they’re so talented, so nice, so funny; I’ve never laughed so hard in my life. I wish I could be as beautiful as them.
A lot of them, it turns out, have been through lots of therapy, or are really spiritual. . .
I fit into both those categories! I love therapy. I swear by therapy. I couldn’t exist without therapy. And I’m in the program [Alcoholics Anonymous].
A lot of us on the show have been through things in life that have taken us in different directions. We’re almost all like underdogs. I say that in a positive way. There is no competition or weird insecurities; everyone’s sort of rooting for each other. They’ve been through so much, and they’re so successful. The positive message is: go to therapy [laughs]. There’s hope for all of us.