Julie Lake plays Angie, a loveable meth head, on “Orange Is the New Black”. I talked to her about her character’s (almost) great escape, spirituality and her web series where she acts opposite her cat.
How did you come to play Angie on “Orange Is The New Black”?
“I used to do a lot of theatre in New York, some experimental stuff, and I worked with a writer, Nick Jones, who is a writer on the show. I did a lot of stuff with him and he told me that this part was available and that I’d be good for it. He helped me send a tape to the casting director, and I was cast based off that tape.”
We haven’t seen your back story yet. I was wondering if you know anything about it that you’re willing to share?
“Not really, no. I’m hoping that I’ll get one in Season 4, but they don’t tell us anything. We are always in the dark. They’re very secretive about what’s happening with the show. I mean, Emma (Myles, who plays Leanne) had to learn how to speak Pennsylvanian Dutch in 4 days! They really don’t give us enough of a heads up about these things. [Laughs].”
So in Season 3 something pretty interesting happens to Angie: she gets released early by mistake! What did you think of that when you saw the script?
“Thank God I was told right when I got the script that I was let out but then they got me. If I had just read that and didn’t know I would’ve been like “Nooooo!”.”
Why do you think she didn’t run away?
“I created my own backstory for Angie in my mind. In mine, being in prison is actually the best time of Angie’s life. I think she’s had it very very hard, and now that she’s in prison she has friends and a safe environment. And I feel like she wasn’t ready to go back to the real world at that time.”
Also in Season 3, Angie and Leanne get caught up in Norma’s religious cult. What do you think is Angie’s motivation for getting involved in that?
“I think Norma is a maternal figure for Angie. I think it’s the first time that Angie actually experiences peace and love, and it made her feel like maybe there was magic in the world after all. I think it was just exciting and it made her feel special.”
I thought you were going to say that she got into it because she was following Leanne.
“No, not with the Norma cult, because it was Angie who actually got involved in it first, and then Leanne. I think Angie is actually really kind of heart even though she always follows Leanne who is sometimes a bully. She kind of goes along with her because she doesn’t want to be on her bad side.”
What about you, are you a religious/spiritual person at all? Would you ever be involved in something like Norma’s cult?
“I’m not a religious person and I don’t know if I would call myself spiritual, but actually Tamara Torres, who plays Weeping Woman (recurring character on OITNB), goes to these oneness meditation sessions in New York, and around the same time the Norma thing started happening I would go with her. There is this thing called Deeskha where one person stares at your eyes in order to pass energy, similar to the Normal cult. It’s kinda funny that it went right along with what was happening in the show.”
It can’t be easy to play a meth head. Have you known any people like Angie personally? How did you get inspiration for the role?
“I have never met a meth head, but I have known drug addicts before. I actually researched a lot, I went to a lot of interventions, but the main inspiration was this HBO documentary called “High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell”. There is a person in that, Brenda, who is a crack addict and a HIV-positive prostitute, she’s had a tough life but at the same time the way she deals with it is cheerful, she jokes all the time. She was just this goofball, so she was my inspiration for Angie.”
I know you have your own webseries. Could you tell us a little about that?
“Yes, George & Julie is a webseries I created with my best friend from high school. Basically, George is my cat. He’s super well connected in Hollywood and he’s an asshole, and Julie is this struggling actress who is very needy and needs a lot of advice. It’s just these ridiculous conversations with my cat, George kinda abuses me [laughs]. It’s just really fun to make, I’m really proud of it.”
What other character on the show would you want to play if you could choose?
“I would wanna be Alex Vause, because I’d wanna be the complete opposite of Angie. I’d want to be a cool, sexy character. I don’t wanna be disgusting anymore! [Laughs].”
I don’t think I would recognize you if I saw you on the street even though I’m a huge fan of the show.
“Most people don’t. It’s pretty rare that I get recognized. I get a lot of “Do I know you, have I seen you somewhere before?” But people don’t get that I’m on the show right away.”
You also do improv and sketch comedy. How does that influence your work as an actress?
“I’ll improv on the show whenever I can get away with it. Usually at the end of a scene, if they keep rolling. It’s just something that I’m very comfortable with, I’m funny so that helps me out in comedy. It’s just really fun to do improv. I’d recommend it to any actor.”
The new season of “Orange Is The New Black” premieres on Netflix in 2016.