Although she didn’t land a role in the first season of the critically acclaimed show “Orange is the New Black,” auditioning for the Netflix series paid off for actress Stephanie Andujar (“Precious”) when the casting director called her in to read for another role a few months later. In Season 2, Andujar gets significant screen time during a series of flashback scenes in two episodes as a young Rosa Cisneros. During these scenes, viewers are given a look into the shady past of Miss Rosa (Barbara Rosenblat) and learn how she ends up in prison.
During our interview, Andujar, 28, talked to me about how she felt after her initial audition for Season 1 and what she did to help her capture the essence of Miss Rosa through a younger version of the character.
Season 2 of “Orange is the New Black” can currently be seen on Netflix. The show has been renewed for a third season.
“Orange is the New Black” is such a popular show on Netflix. How did you land this gig on Season 2?
Well, I was actually called in by the casting director to read for the role of Young Rosa because I had auditioned for “Orange” before. I auditioned for the [Lorna] Morello character, which is now played by [actress] Yael Stone, who is brilliant. Finally, the Young Rosa part came along. So, it ended up working out.
Were you disappointed that you didn’t get the Morello part when you initially auditioned?
No, I don’t think I was disappointed really. I was happy that I got the opportunity to get in front of these great casting directors. I thought, “You know, if this part doesn’t happen, maybe there will be another part.” I had this feeling after I auditioned that maybe they would call me for something else. Thank god Young Rosa came along!
Did you watch Season 1 before getting the role on Season 2?
Yes, I was already becoming a fan! I was already into the show and then the audition came about. I really hoped it would work out. Then, boom, I ended up booking the part.
How important do you think it is for a show like “Orange” to be able to dramatize the backstories of some of these characters?
I was happy that everyone could see the origin story of how Miss Rosa ended up in prison. It’s interesting that she is this strong Latina woman that everyone was underestimating. Backstories are everything. It makes everything so cohesive. It allows viewers to feel closer to the characters.
In Season 1, Miss Rosa had a small role, so I was surprised her character was explored as much as she was in Season 2. I felt in Season 1, she was very hard to read. Did you feel the same way?
I definitely thought there was some mystery to her. I thought she must have had this crazy thrilling life prior to prison. (Laughs) She is this strong Latina woman who had a husband and then had another husband and went through a lot of heartache trying to be this leader. I was glad she had that mystery, so when Season 2 came around, you could really be introduced to Miss Rosa. I think it was a brilliant introduction.
Do you think Rosa could’ve done something with her life if she had made different decisions or if she hadn’t been caught?
Possibly. I think she could’ve owned her own enterprise. (Laughs) I think it would’ve been something major. You know, I’m not sure. I was just really focused on Young Rosa. I wanted to make sure people knew what kind of person she was. It worked out.
When you got the part of Young Rosa, did you revisit actress Barbara Rosenblat’s performance as Miss Rosa to try and mimic anything she did for the character?
Yes, I was able to go on set when they were filming and see her perform one of her scenes. I wanted to capture her mannerisms and facial expressions and voice. I listened to her voice over and over for about two or three weeks before filming. I listened to that accent and made sure it was embedded in my mind. (Laughs) It was fun research. I really just dove in there to make sure I gave this character life.
Did you get to have any conversations with Barbara about the character?
Not really, but she did come up to me one day when I was filming one of the backstory scenes. She was like, “I had to come and see who my Mini-Me is!” I was like, “Oh my god. It’s great to meet you Barbara! Oh my god!” (Laughs) It was a great moment.
Without giving too much away, what do you think happens to Miss Rosa after her final episode in Season 2?
You know, there are so many fans who were touched by that ending. So many fans cried. You just want her to live out the rest of her life. She went out with a bang.
Do you think you would make a good bank robber in real life? Did they teach you any of the basics to rob a bank on the set?
(Laughs) Well, they did tell me how to hold the gun at one point. I don’t think I would have the same guts as Rosa. I don’t know if I could do something that outrageous. It was a lot of fun to do it on a set though.