“Orange Is the New Black” star Dascha Polanco opened up about her character, Dayanara Diaz. Season 5 held a lot of character development for Daya, which Polanco was grateful for. Fair warning to those who have not started or finished the new season yet: there are spoilers below.

The last time viewers saw Daya in Season 4, she was holding a gun to one of the guard’s heads. There was a riot that broke out over the death of inmate Poussey Washington, played by Samira Wiley. She was accidentally murdered by prison guard Baxter Bailey, played by Alan Aisenberg, in a scene that was reminiscent of the way Eric Garner of Staten Island was killed by an officer in the New York Police Department.

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The inmates at the fictional Litchfield Penitentiary banned together in the chaos. “Right now, everyone collectively has unified to take things and to just not take it anymore. To say, 'We won't tolerate it,’” she told Entertainment Tonight Online in an exclusive interview Tuesday. “And I think as women, politically now we're going through the same thing, where we're unifying and we're not going to stop. Resist until we do not stop.” Throughout the season, some of the police officers try to minimize the impact of the riot, saying the women may fight over trifles.


Polanco was able to relate to her character as she was going through a hard time in her personal life while filming Season 5. “I had gone through a moment in my life that was just hard and difficult, a lot of things going on," she confessed. "There was a removing of people, there were defamations of myself as a person, and so I felt that was such a right moment to use those emotions to transcend them right into that gun and to Daya. That's how I felt about everything in my life -- like a bullet inside a gun. I just wanted to shoot out and be free.”

One of the things they did was conspire together after Daya shoots the guard in the leg. Polanco had no idea how her character was going to react until she read the script — and she was shocked.

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“I was coming into a season where I wasn't sure what was going to happen to my character, but I wanted to know and was ready for [her fate],” she said. “At this point in the show, Dayanara was ready to take things into her own hands and to take a risk and say, ‘I've had it. This is my moment of freedom. I'll worry about it later, but for now, what I've suffered, what I've endured, what Bennett (Matt McGorry) has done, what I've had to sacrifice with Pornstache (Pablo Schreiber) and my daughter, I don't care at this point.’”

Still, she was proud of how Daya responded to the situation. “It's about time,” the 34-year-old actress said about her character taking control. “It was very internal for Daya. She was releasing the last bit of resistance that she had. That was it. That was her moment to exhale.”

Season 5 of “OITNB” is currently filming on Netflix.

Dascha Polanco
"Orange Is the New Black" actress Dascha Polanco, pictured Nov. 11, 2015 in New York, talked about her character, Daya, and what happened in Season 5. Getty Images

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