Pimentel, the gorgeous Latina who first appeared behind bars as Dayanara Diaz’s pregnant bunkmate, Maria Ruiz, delivers flawless acting with an endearing vulnerability alongside her co-stars. The Brooklyn-bred quadruple threat (in addition to acting, she is also a rock musician, actress and violinist) is already filming season four, sure to be chock full of breakout performances.
Vixen recently caught up with the Litchfield bae as she dished on the secret of the show’s success, set life and what she likes to do when no one is watching.—Angela Wilson
VIBE Vixen: How would you describe the third season of Orange is the New Black for those who haven’t binge-watched it yet?
Jessica Pimentel: People are done [with the season] already, can you believe that? I’m not going to lie I woke up on my living room floor watching it myself, like, ‘Oh, I’ll just watch one more. Just one more!’ But season three is really brutal and raw. It crosses all the lines. Nobody is safe and the things that happen are really devastating.
What makes this show such a huge hit?
I think the stories come from an honest, loving place and they’re from the heart so they touch people at the heart. There’s so many characters you can identify with that even if this isn’t particularly your life or lifestyle you can find something in one or several characters you can connect with and learn from.
How do you relate to your character, Maria Ruiz?
I’m not a mother but I do care very much about my family. They’re my priority at the end of the day. That’s all you have sometimes and that is most important for Maria and not just because of her situation, I think that’s just who she is. She cares about her family. I feel the same way about my own family.
What’s it like working on set with your co-stars?
Oh, it’s awesome. I’m like the luckiest girl in the world. We have the greatest group of ladies and gentlemen—we have one of the top crews in New York and L.A. Every day is a pleasure to come to work. Everyone is super professional. Everyone comes to the table with their plate full sharing their talents and gifts. Everyday, we learn and laugh while getting through the hard times on the show together because it can get emotional at times so it’s important to have a good group of people to lean on for those days that get rough but we all have a lot of fun together.
What’s up with season four?
We go back to work on Monday (June 15). We had to binge watch last weekend because we’re picking up where we left off like every year-the story ends and a year later, we pick back up. We have to binge to refresh ourselves of what happened. No days off.
What keeps you grounded?
My family always keeps me grounded as well as having a strong spiritual life. I am a Buddhist and that’s a very big part of my life—daily meditation and daily prayers. The [prayers] are not just for myself. A lot of people pray for themselves or getting more things but part of my practice is to pray for those who are suffering a lot and dedicate everything I do to help those who suffer. Dedicating everything you do to making someone else happy, whether you’re a shoe shiner, a gardener or a multi-millionare tech mogul, always keeps you grounded because no matter how hard your day is, someone else is worse off than you.
What is something you like to do when no one is watching?
I’m the queen of living room dance parties. That’s one of my favorite things to do. Since we’ve been little girls when the [music] videos would come on and you’d dance along, I love it. Club Living Room!
SEE ALSO: Orange Is the New Black: On The Run
You also have a recurring role on Person of Interest, what’s going on with the show?
We just finished season four and it was probably the most epic finale of a show I’ve ever seen. There’s a lot of death and destruction and the machine that runs the city, so to speak, to help eliminate the bad guys is in a tough situation. I’m not sure how we’ll start the season so it’ll be interesting.
What was the first big ticket item you purchased when you made it big?
I haven’t! [Laughs] I’m saving up to buy my own home soon so that’s more important than shoes, bags or cars. I have everything I want and need at this point in my life. I enjoy buying gifts for other people, although they may not be big ticket items, but I like to help out. Oh and paying those student loans off forever.
Photo Credit: Getty Images