Dascha Polanco: Arrested Development

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Orange is the New Black’s rookie roster lends a dose of Dominican flavor to a prison love story that’s so wrong, it has to be right.

She may be holed up in a women’s penitentiary, but no one has a bigger set of balls than Dayanara Diaz. For Dascha Polanco, becoming a fan favorite is inevitable when your scenes include going head-to-head with a feisty mother (Elizabeth Rodriguez), hiding a prohibited pregnancy and engaging in secret sexy time with a hot prison guard (played by the adorable Matt McGorry). Driven by a complicated family history, fierce independence and forbidden romance, this undercover lover is hardly the wallflower of Litchfield.

Like her detained doppelganger, Dascha is all about taking risks. With just a handful of previous acting gigs to her name, she barely made her OITNB audition between working two day jobs. A well-balanced cocktail of grit, talent and Brooklyn boldness eventually landed her the game-changing role. Engaged and already a mother off-screen, the Dominican actress is probably the best person to give her character a bit of you-can-have-it-all advice. Luckily, living an adult life hasn’t diminished the youthful spirit that hits you like a jolt the instant you meet her.

From the time we met at VIBE headquarters until the end of our shoot in her hometown, Polanco never ceased to toss in her two cents or spark debate on any given subject, including the acting dynamic between her and McGorry that strangely mirrors that of their characters’. Carrying infectious energy like a designer clutch, our cover girl played games, posed like a pro and declared her love for Lorde long before the cameras made their final flash. Dascha may be a newbie, but she works it like an old vet.
She’s a BK babe and Latina fashionista; the woman with quiet strength who can’t be ignored. Go ahead—we dare you to try.