When Netflix released the entire second season of Orange is the New Black, let’s just say we were more than a little excited. By the third episode, we discovered something to be really excited about– they casted an Asian.
Kimiko Glenn is the actress who plays the prison’s newest inmate, Brook Soso. Another character has described her as a “dirty hippie.” This isn’t completely missing the mark considering everything we’ve learned about her so far. She refuses to shower, goes on hunger strikes for better prison conditions and even rallies her other other inmates. Although at times odd, she’s clearly quite a character.
Of course this isn’t the first Asian character on Orange is the New Black. However, the only other Asian character, Chang, hardly spoke and told us nothing about her personality. Soso is quite the opposite– she can’t stop talking and the other inmates are quick to realize that.
Recently, actress Kimiko Glenn opened up to Cosmopolitan.com about her character:
Cosmo: You’re in more than half of the episodes in Season 2. How did you end up on the show?
Glenn: I was doing theater before all this, and I had some experience with film and TV — I filmed a sitcom pilot. When I got the audition, I was actually watching episode 5 of the first season. You know how it kind of snowballs and you’re like, Now I can’t stop, I’m addicted? I was in the middle of that. After I finished, I paused and looked at [my agent’s] email and it said: “Appointment for Orange Is The New Black.” And I said, “Oh my god, wait!” I stared at it for a second because I thought I was seeing things. It was cool because I was watching, like, “I would love to be on this show, but I would never be on this show because what part would there be for me in a prison?”
Cosmo: Orange is a great platform for minorities. How does Brook’s character help as far as Asian American representation, and do you think about it?
Glenn: Absolutely. I think the original vision of the character was a blonde girl, and then they opened it up to Indian, and then it kind of landed on me somehow. But I think that was telling of how open Jenji [Kohan, the creator] is and the way in which we’re thinking about it more. What I love about playing Brook is the fact that this is not an Asian stereotype. This is not like any character I’ve gone in for. I go in for a lot of the typical things you would think: the silly sidekick, the smart one, stuff like that. It is something I think about all the time. It’s a conversation I ask my agents; I ask my managers. It’s always a conversation because I do want to be playing parts that are human parts. And I love that they say that I’m Asian American. I’m not “full Asian.” I think Asians in general are underrepresented.
Cosmo: There isn’t much representation at all, and your character is funny.
Glenn: I get discouraged when I watch films. TV, I think is getting a lot better, but I’ll watch and it’ll be primarily white and then a few African-American actors scattered in. As an Asian woman, I find that it’s pretty difficult to break the boundary, you know, to come in and tell a story that isn’t about being Asian. I think what would be completely ground-breaking is if there was some sort of film or TV show — or maybe there is, I don’t know — where there is an Asian American lead who wasn’t about being Asian American.