By Kelly Killoren Bensimon July 24, 2014
‘Orange Is the New Black” has drawn raves for its diversity and complex female characters, many of which have broken out thanks to their challenging roles.
One such actress is Laura Gómez. The current New Yorker, who was raised in the Dominican Republic, plays the seemingly crazy Litchfield Penitentiary inmate Blanca Flores. But that isn’t the only notable role on her resume.
The actress is a member of the Repertorio Español, where she has participated in critically acclaimed plays, including “Doña Flor Y Sus Dos Maridos” and “La Casa de los Espiritus.”
Gómez has also been the face for brands such as CoverGirl and Suave and has provided her voice for the Spanish audiobooks for “How the García Girls Lost Their Accents” and “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” She’s also worked in film, writing, directing and producing the short films “Hallelujah” and “To Kill a Roach.”
We sat down with Gómez at Morandi in the West Village, where she clues us into what it’s like to play Flores and what she loves about New York.
Q: Where are you from?
A: I’m from the Dominican Republic.
Q: Why did you come to New York?
A: I came here in 2001 to train as an actor.
Q: Who did you study acting with?
A: I studied the Meisner Technique with Robert Patterson.
Q: What made you connect with that technique?
A: I connected with the moment to moment of not overacting and just responding. I look for that in my own life, just trying to be present.
Q: You play a crazy person on TV. How does that make you feel?
A: It’s been liberating to use my tools in acting. In makeup, they laugh because they have to make you un-pretty. I even get a unibrow. It’s always a challenge as an actor, and I love the character work.
Q: How has “Orange Is the New Black” changed your life?
A: The show has such had a huge impact. Now when I go to auditions and meet casting directors, they know who I am. Viewers are loving the show and its diversity.
Q: You were invited to the Jeff Koons and H&M collaboration launch. What did you think of it?
A: I loved it. I just went to the Jeff Koons exhibit at the Whitney. Before I went, I was sitting in a dentist chair getting a root canal, and decided I was definitely going.
Q: You aren’t just an actor.
A: I have also written and directed two short films — “To Kill a Roach” and “Hallelujah.” I took a course at NYU’s film school. Now my films are getting into festivals and have even won awards.
Q: What’s your personal style?
A: I’m eclectic. I can go in so many directions: funky, sexy and sometimes conservative.
Q: What from your Dominican roots gave you a solid foundation?
A: I am very family-oriented and respectful of my elders. This business can be a bubble. My upbringing grounds me in humility and pride.
Q: Where are your favorite restaurants?
A: I love Gramercy Tavern, Morandi and the Asian restaurant Decibel.
Q: What do you love about New York?
A: I honestly love Central Park. It’s quiet and I love to write there.