‘The Orange Is The New Black’ Cast Before They Were Famous

The cast of Orange Is The New Black has risen to super stardom thanks to their awesome work on the dramedy. But where were they before they became household names and award winners? Some were on lesser known shows, but others were on completely different career tracks! Here are what 12 cast members were up to before they were famous.

1
Taylor Schilling - Piper Chapman
Taylor Schilling, Orange Is The New Black, Mercy
Netflix/NBC

Before she was a prisoner she wore scrubs! The actress' first big role was on Mercy where she played the clumsy nurse Veronica Callahan. She also later got her big break by starring in The Lucky One opposite Zac Efron. Afterwards she was in the movies Argo, Stay, and The Overnight before headlining the Netflix show.

2
Uzo Aduba - Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren
Uzo Aduba, Orange Is The New Black
Netflix/Getty Images

Before becoming a breakout star of the show as the vulnerable Susan, she was on Broadway's Godspell with Hunter Parrish from Weeds. Her introduction to TV was a small role as a nurse on Blue Bloods. She then played an acting teacher in the TV movie, How to Live Like a Lady. After that she got her iconic role and the rest was history.

3
Laverne Cox - Sophia Burset
Laverne Cox, Orange is the New Black
Netflix/Getty Images

The actress has truly made it to icon status. But what was she doing before she played Sophia? She was a contestant on I Want To Work For Diddy but she only lasted two episodes. After that she acted in an episode of Law & Order and Bored to Death. She then broke into movie with Uncle Stephanie, Carla, Musical Chairs, and The Exhibitions before making it big.

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4
Kate Mulgrew - Galina "Red" Reznikov
Kate Mulgrew, Orange Is The New Black, Ryan's Hope
Netflix/ABC via Getty Images

Back in 1979 the Russian chef was on the TV crime series, Mrs. Columbo. After that she had a few reoccurring roles on shows like The Manions of America, Cheers, Ryan's Hope, and Gargoyles. She went on to star in Star Trek: Voyager as Captain Kathryn Janeway until 2001. She later went on to work with Taylor Schilling on Mercy where she played Mrs. Jeannie Flanagan. After that she appeared had roles on Warehouse 13 and NTSF:SD:SUV before landing her current one.

5
Dascha Polanco - Dayanara Diaz
Dascha Polanco, Orange is the New Black
Netflix/Getty Images

The actress actually made a career change shortly before she became famous. Before she was in nursing school and managed an instrument room at a hospital in the Bronx. She even auditioned for her role in her scrubs. She also has a degree in psychology so she's pretty smart. When she started acting she got a role on the shows, Unforgettable and NYC 22. She then went on to star in two movies, The Cobbler and Gimmie Shelter.

6
Elizabeth Rodriguez - Aleida Diaz
Elizabeth Rodriguez, Orange is the New Black, NYPD Blue
Netflix/ABC via Getty Images

Before she played the imperfect prison mother, she was getting nominated for awards! The actress was nominated for a Tony for Best Featured Actress In A Play for her work in The Motherfucker with the Hat. However before all that she acted in New York Undercover in 1994. She then moved on to appearing in a few episodes of OZ and Trinity. She then played Martha Oliveras in the movie, Blow. She then went back to television to get her reoccurring roles on All My Children and Prime Suspect. 

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7
Jackie Cruz - Marisol "Flaca" Gonzales
Jackie Cruz, Orange is the New Black, Kourtney and Kim Take Miami
Netflix/E!

Before wearing her iconic eyeliner and playing Flaca, she was killing it in the music business. She was in a girl group called Krush Velvet, but it never got signed to a label. She then started acting and her first role was on The Shield in 2007. She then appeared on My Own Worst Enemy and Unforgettable. She also met Kourtney Kardashian in acting class where they had to kiss. It was filmed on Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami.

8
Lea DeLaria - Big Boo
Lea DeLaria, Orange is the New Black, Saved By The Bell: The New Class
Netflix/NBC

Before she was the lovable Big Boo, she had some awesome gigs. Her first role was on Matlock where she had two episods. She then appeared on Saved By The Bell: The New Class and Friends. She broke into movies with The First Wives Club, but made her way back. She had small roles on The Drew Carey Show and Will & Grace. She portrayed Professor Delbert Fina on One Life To Live for a few years. Before making it on OITNB she had a small part on Californication, Ass Backwards, Awkward., and The Jim Gaffigan Show. 

9
Yael Stone - Lorna Morello
Yael Stone, Orange is the New Black, Me Myself I
Netflix/Sony Pictures Classics via Everett Collection

The actress got her big break in 1999 acting in a movie called Me Myself I. Also you may not be able to tell from her character's accent, but the actress is Australian. So before the show she was a regular on an Australian medical drama called All Saints. She then went on to act on the series, Spirited before going on the hit show.

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10
Pablo Schreiber - George "Pornstache" Mendez
Pablo Schreiber, Orange is the New Black
Netflix/Getty Images

Pornstache is quite the complicated character that has a memorable look. But before the actor put on the mustache he got his first role in the movie, Bubble Boy then continued his streak with The Manchurian Candidate. He then made it big on tv with reoccurring roles on The Wire, Dirt, Lights Out, A Gifted Man, Weeds, Ironside, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

11
Natasha Lyonne - Nicky Nichols
Natasha Lyonne, Orange is the New Black, Pee Wee's Playhouse
Netflix/CBS via Getty Images

Jason Biggs isn't the only American Pie alum on the show! Before playing Nicki she was in the movie along with being a regular on Pee-Wee's Playhouse. She then broke into movies with Dennis the Menace, American Pie, Scary Movie 2, Kate & Leopold, and Old School. She also appeared on some hit tv shows like Girls, Weeds, New Girl, Grounded for Life, and Will & Grace.

12
Lori Tan Chinn - Chang
Lori Tan Chinn, Orange is the New Black, Roseanne
Netflix/ABC

Before playing the crazy and tough Chang, the actress had a few small roles. But the one that was reoccurring was on Roseanne, where she played a character named Iris in four episodes. She later got small roles on Spin City, Law & Order, and South Pacific. She also got to work in movies including Year of the Fish and The Guitar.

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