This story is representative of Cindy's entire character, from laughter to soul-searching. At the start of Orange Is the New Black, Cindy was a pure comedic presence, whose buoyancy kept the show from sinking into drama. But the hardship of ensuing seasons erodes that smile.
Come season 7, Cindy is confronted with everything her smile had been covering up. Inside the prison, Cindy's literally haunted by Taystee (Danielle Brooks), who received a life sentence after the riot because of Cindy's false testimony. Then, a newly released Cindy faces complicated family dynamics: A resentful mother and a daughter who believes she's her sister. "It was a full body emotional workout," Moore told Refinery29 of filming season 7.
By the finale, Cindy has been cursed at, abandoned, rendered homeless. She's lost her prison family and ran away from her biological family. And yet Moore thinks her character's ending is a hopeful one. We leave Cindy (Adrienne C. Moore) sitting with her mother and daughter at a fast-food restaurant, finally opening up about the truth.
But questions remain. Does she mend her relationship with her mother? Does Cindy move back in? Does she ever speak to Taystee again? Moving on to finish other characters' storylines, Orange Is the New Black didn't answer those questions — but Moore did.
Refinery29: It’s a big season for Cindy. What was it like balancing the drama with her comedic presence?
Adrienne C. Moore: “It was a workout. I’d have to be funny in one moment and heartbroken in the next. I had to stay open and get out of my head and just trust the process — that my truth will be there when it needs to be there, and that I’ll have emotional truth with every take. As humans we manage our emotions all day long. To be in a place where you say, I’m just going to trust whatever comes out of me, is kind of scary but fun at the same time.’
Right, Cindy uses humor to manage her emotions. It’s her defense mechanism.
“She uses her humor to mask a lot of the pain that she’s been covering up for years. But it was good in this season, despite the fact that she went through a lot of pain and isolation both in and out of prison, that she ended on a hopeful note. Which I think was a beautiful way for her to end. The assumption someone might make is, She did this terrible thing by ratting her friend out, so she deserves whatever comes to her. But the biggest lesson is, even if you don't have a chance to reconcile with the person that you’ve hurt, there’s a chance to reconcile within yourself and to forgive yourself and move forward in hope.”
Right, it ends on a hopeful note, but pretty open-ended. We don't know what her life will look like, especially with her daughter and her mom. What do you think comes next for her?
“I think her ending was a perfect entryway to a spin-off, don’t you think? [Laughs] I hope she’s more open, honest, and accepting about who she is, where she’s come from and where she is today. I think she'll use her humor to work with the elderly community at the home she was working in and become a light and joy for the people who are around her. I hope that she’ll find love. That was one territory we didn’t explore with Cindy — her love life. And taking on that responsibility as a mother, and repairing her relationship with her mom. I’m hopeful for her.”
"I was ready to bring some of that joy back to Cindy.”
Adrienne C. Moore
Do you think she moves back in with them?
“I hope that she goes back home. Moreover, I hope that she will be able to get to a place where she and her daughter can move somewhere together. I do wish down the road that she gets a chance to reconcile with Taystee.”
Going into season 7, were you hoping for a resolution between Cindy and Taystee? How do you feel about what their final interaction ended up being?
“I was definitely hoping for a reconciliation. I did not like their final interaction. So many things are left unsaid. That’s the unfortunate truth, not just with inmates but people in general. There are things that you want to say that you don’t get to say in your last moment of interaction. There are a lot of holes in their relationship that I don’t like. I hope that they’ll have a chance to one day reconcile. And hopefully the truth will finally come out. Maybe we could do an Orange Is the New Black movie in five years and see where everyone’s at.”
Did this season affect Danielle and your off-screen friendship?
“It affected our friendship — a lot of my scenes were apart from her. The only times we saw each other was when we were working on very difficult scenes. It’s not like I felt like I did this to Danielle, or Danielle is doing this to Adrienne — but some of those feelings do come up.
"There was a moment when we were working on the library scene, which I think was my first time seeing Taystee, and my last time seeing her. We were working on that scene over and over again. There was a moment when Danelle grabbed me and said, ‘I do not enjoy doing this.’ I was like, ‘Me neither, me neither.’ It didn’t affect our friendship, but we didn’t spend as much time together as we had previous seasons. That was hard, to not have that connection and bond that we had previously.”
What was it like saying goodbye to Cindy after six years?
“Have you played sports? It felt like you’re at the last few minutes of the clock. The game is tied. You are so tired. While you want to focus on winning, you can’t ignore the fact that you’re tired and you want to rest. But you have to keep playing, keep fighting. It felt like that. I’ve sat with her for so many years. There’s that incredible amount of love that I have for her, but I’m ready to tell a new story.
“The end of her story was very emotional for me. I felt her isolation, her rejection by others. I didn’t know if I could continue feeling that sad, that judged. There were times that I was ready to be done. That’s the beauty of our writers and why they chose the actors that they chose. None of us play our characters easily. We don’t just get up and say the lines. We internalize a lot of the emotions and what these characters go through. I was ready to move onto the happier side of life. And bring some of that joy back to Cindy.”