Rebecca Knox talks about kickass role in Orange is the New Black and her Colombian-German heritage.
Playing the role of a fierce inmate on the hit series Orange is the New Black is a dream come true for actress Rebecca Knox. “About the final season there isn’t much I can talk about,” she says with a laugh, “but she is going to be just as bad and just as crazy.” Playing Tina on the show was tricky since she has little in common with her character, who belonged to a gang before being behind bars. “She is a drug addict, she is really tough. It was a matter of seeing where she is coming from even though she and I have different backgrounds. It was just a pure joy to get to know her. I loved it. She is so spunky and aggressive and doesn’t care what anyone things. She is a fighter and that really inspired me.”
Letting Tina’s vulnerability reflect through her tough exterior was her challenge as an actress. “There is this kind of innocence about her, she is very young and kind of lost,” she adds about this role. “That’s why she got in trouble, because she was trying so hard to help her friends and her gang.”
Why are people so hooked on this show? “It’s so powerful, it talks about issues that were not really addressed in the media before. It focuses on strong women. All these characters are strong and they are not perfect. In the show these are real women with real problems dealing with each other in prison,” Knox says. “It humanizes these women and I think that’s what’s so attractive.”
With her blonde curls, she may not look like your typical Latina, but she is very proud of her multicultural heritage. “I’m lighter-skinned because of my dad being German, but my aunt in Colombia is also very fair with green eyes,” Knox says. “There is not one color when it comes to being Latina and I think that’s really important to show. It’s so much more expansive. There are so many colors that mean Latina.” She can also cook a mean arroz con coco, following a recipe from her Colombian mom. “She came to this country when she was 17 and sang on the streets of New York and dreamed of being an actress,” she adds about her mother, who is proud that Knox is succeeding as an artist. “She couldn’t pursue her dream because she was an immigrant and had to work really hard to provide the life I have today. It’s a beautiful thing that I’m following the path that she paved.”
She also helps her parents run their mezcal brand Doña Sarita. “I rebranded it. I love mezcal and I thought it would be important to create a liquor brand that was focusing on a woman as the main character. There are all these brands that are male-driven and this one is Sarita, it’s my mother. We created this character based on my mother and have a brand that is female-driven,” says the actress, who loves to cook, run and paint when she’s not on the set. “I’m passionate about what I do and I want to use my art to communicate my heritage and be a voice to immigrants in this country and people with the American Dream, because my parents and I achieved it.”