Originally cast for one episode, Lolita Foster has become a fan favorite as one of Litchfield’s Corrections Officer Maxwell. I had the pleasure of chatting it up with the actress on what it’s like being part of such a female-forward and diverse cast, favorite scenes, her highly hilarious but very understandable prep for her role and more. Check it out below.
In season three we get more glimpses into the background stories of the other COs, is that something we can expect that for Maxwell?
“I would not even venture to get inside the writers minds. I have no idea what to expect each and every season. They always do such committed and wonderful work with the stories that they do reveal. I can say, I can only hope but I’ve had to wait along with everyone else.”
What’s your favorite part about filming with the cast? Everyone brings such a different dynamic to the table.
“I think someone’s asked me that before and I have to say my favorite thing about filming with the cast, is filming with the cast. They are amazing. Everyone there is just so humble and happy to be there and giving and receptive and it’s just such a fantastic climate in which to work. When you work with other talents that you’re just feeding off of and they’re feeding off of you. There are no selfish egos involved it’s just a phenomenal place to work.”
How do you guys keep it together on set? I can’t imagine that’s easy at all.
“Oh [laughs] I think the only reason why we can keep it together on set is because we have directors who know that there’s a time limit and a budget that we need to stick to. Otherwise we’d just be laughing and carrying on for 12-hour days.”
What’s been your favorite scene to film so far?
“I think my favorite scene to film I believe was in the first season when Fig was chewing us out over allowing Madeline Brewer’s character (Tricia Miller) to die in our custody. And I remember it was just me feeding off of everyone else that was there. It was all the correctional officers in the room together, which hadn’t happened I think until that moment.
So just feeding off of that energy and listening and responding was one of my favorite scenes. I don’t even think I had much to do, I think I had one or two lines but it was just good energy.”
You can always tell when that happens on screen and everyone’s in sync and it’s just perfect.
“Thank you, I’m glad that it shows!”
The show has just been so incredible, it’s received so much love and support from people and it’s incredibly provocative and so female-forward which is so rare these days but is increasingly becoming popular. What have you learned as an actress being part of that?
“You know it was something that I didn’t even realize was going on. When I first started I was just supposed to be in the initial episode. I think my name originally was Deaf Corrections Officer and I was thinking, ’Oh it’ll be great! I’ll do one episode, whether the series survives or it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter, people will at least see my face!’ [laughs] and then three or four episodes later they brought me back. I thought, ‘Oh that’s wonderful! I’ll get to do a little more work and one of the writers came up to me and said, ‘I don’t know if anyone told you but you’re doing such great work that they told us to write even more stuff for you,’ and I thought that was just fantastic.
I think it was then that I actually started to look around me and realized how unusual this environment was. To have a female-forward cast, in an environment that isn’t typically spoken about with diverse individuals who aren’t usually paid attention to. Jenji Kohan (creator) is just amazing in how she used Piper’s story as a tool to tell everyone else’s story. And they’re stories that I don’t think the industry realized people wanted to be told, until it actually started to happen. They realized there’s a market for this, there are people out there starving to see faces like themselves on screen.”
I love that. It’s so diverse, it’s so great and it’s not just focused on Piper or Alex. Especially this past season and that’s what I so appreciated seeing is that diversity on screen and other people had the opportunity to step forward and have their story be told.
“Yeah, it’s so dynamic.”
You said that these storylines are ones that haven’t really been tapped into yet. Did you do anything to prepare for your role?
“You know I wish I could say that I did! [laughs] The most I did was watch more Cops and Locked Up I think more than any girl should ever watch in her life! Other than that I didn’t visit any prisons or anything but I did start watching those shows just to see what the energy was like in facilities like that. You know to see how corrections officers carry themselves. I feel like when I put on my gear, you just walk in a totally different way. You carry yourself in a totally different manner and I watched episodes like that to just get in tune with that.”
I actually really love Maxwell. She’s so stoic and so present and then she has these quick witty one-liners that she just drops and totally takes the scene.
“Thank you! I was talking to someone recently that I used to think that Maxwell just didn’t care at all. But I think she cares a great deal and she just wants people to get their act together. Like it’s not that hard people, just be present, be aware and do your job.”
Yes! I love when she’s with the two CO’s that are dating and whenever they have some lover’s quarrel or are being too mushy with each other Maxwell’s just in the background like, ‘Really? This is what we’re doing?’
“[Laughs] Yes!! That is kind of her general attitude. She’s just looking around going, ‘Really?!’ to everything.”
If you could have Maxwell interact with any other character more who would it be and why?
“I don’t think it’s any singular character, I think I would enjoy interaction with the inmates as a whole more. I think most of my scenes are with one or two CO’s so I think interacting with the inmates more would be fun.”
What qualities, if any, of Maxwell’s are unlike or like yourself?
“I think her need for organization her need for control, her need to have everything in order is very like me. Her choice to work in a prison [laughs] is very not like me because I would never, I am not the one to do that.”
If you weren’t acting what do you think you would be doing then?
“I think I’d probably be in Broadcast Journalism. I went to the University of Virginia and I was an English major there. I have a great love for writing and I think that I’d do well with that, being on camera and entertaining people.”
Lastly do you have any upcoming projects you can share with us?
“Yeah! I think I posted the other day that I’m going to be in the new movie Going in Style, a remake of an old George Burns flick. It’s starring Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin and being directed by Zach Braff so I’ll be doing that next month.”
Season 4 is coming in 2016 and if you haven’t binge watched Orange is the New Black yet, hop on over to Netflix and get caught up! Be sure to follow Lolita on Twitter @WCG_Lolita for updates!