Alysia Reiner

r29_revlon_072514_AR_28502Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Alysia Reiner is the kind of staunch force you want in your all-girl Hollywood gang. Legions of lady fans already know Reiner best as the love-to-hate assistant warden on Netflix’s estrogen-fueled Orange Is the New Black. But, it’s Broad Street Pictures, the production company she colaunched with fellow actress Sarah Megan Thomas, that’s about to totally disrupt the way women are portrayed on film.
The duo is hell-bent on raising up women in Hollywood — both in front of and behind the camera — so it’s no surprise that their company will be exclusively producing films that feature strong female characters in roles you don’t commonly see them in. It’s fitting that the woman who portrays such a complex character in a virtually all-female ensemble on OITNB would venture off to start her own entertainment world of bold female players. Obviously, we want in.
Alysia3.r29_revlon_072514_AR_28419Photographed by Ben Ritter.

Why I chose this path
“I want to make art that makes people talk to each other more and lay down their guard more. I feel like the luckiest human on the planet to work on Orange Is The New Black, because it really does that in a ginormous way. It touches people in a way I’ve never experienced. I’ve gotten cornered for a selfie in the bathroom at 4:30 in the morning and that never happened to me before. I chose to be an entertainer, because I feel like entertainment can bring people together.”

On the power of performance
“It is such an amazing rush when someone comes up to you after you’ve performed something and says, ‘You changed my life.’ I made a movie once when a man came up to me hysterically crying and said, ‘I never grieved my wife’s death until your performance, thank you.’ It’s amazing when you’re able to help people in that way.”

What I’ve learned from playing “the bitch”
“The truth is I can’t think of my character Fig as a bitch, and I don’t think she thinks of herself as a bitch either. She’s too hungry, too angry, too tired, and feels like she’s surrounded by stupid people. She’s really trying to do the best she can. She taught me that, in real life, remember that no villain thinks they’re being bad. The glorious thing is that this season you got to see other sides of her. We all have that scared or hurt part of ourselves that makes us lash out.”


The importance of being bold
“It’s not that women should be bold. It’s that they have to be. Nothing will change unless we make broad strokes that really are daring. I think one of the things men are better at is being willing to fail and look a mess and not be afraid of that. Women somewhere learned that we have to keep it together and be perfect and look good doing it. Being bold means you fall down sometimes and you’re a mess, but you get back up and do it again. Every woman should be allowed to be as super-crazy, Sofia Vergara sexy as they want to be, while being brilliant and bold. Let’s break all the rules.”

The best acting advice
“I think one of the most important things I learned from an acting teacher was that you have to shed things. That is your number-one job as an artist, because otherwise you walk into an audition and you’re holding two very heavy suitcases, and you turn to the casting director and you’re like, ‘Here, hold my baggage.’ If I hung onto every audition I didn’t get, I think I would end up in a mental hospital. I really do. I would be cursing a lot. I’d be batshit crazy. You’ve got to let it go.”

What’s missing in Hollywood
“We all know about the Bechdel test, but one of the more important things [than not talking about men] is using more female writers and female directors. More than half of Orange’s writers’ room is women. Most of our producers are women, and last season we got some good female directors in. I think women supporting other women is one of the most important things we can ever do, and that’s one the things we want to do with this production company.”

Alysia4.r29_revlon_072514_AR_28645-EditPhotographed by Ben Ritter.
Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress, Oscar de la Renta pump, Tom Tom collar.
Photographed by Ben Ritter; Hair & Makeup by Katie Mellinger; Styled by Laura Pritchard.

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