Taylor Schilling: Orange Is The New Black's fifth series reflects US 'eruption'

Orange Is The New Black star Taylor Schilling has said the new series of the show will reflect the fact there was an "eruption" in the US this year.

The hit Netflix prison drama returns for a fifth series today and picks up where the fourth series ended, at the start of a prison riot with one inmate holding a gun to an officer's head.

The riot will unfold throughout the new episodes, as the residents of Litchfield reel from the death of a black prisoner during a protest that turned fatal.

Schilling, who plays Piper Chapman in the series, told the Press Association: "I think it's impossible to remove this show from the context it's been created in and it's been created in a more political world, our world is more heightened than it's ever been.

"We filmed this season while the campaign and election was happening in the States and I think that informed our work. I think there is a level of gravity that is unprecedented for us in this environment.

She continued: "It does feel there was a bit of an eruption this year, while the (prison) system has always been broken, it's been boiling.

"This year there was an eruption and you can't ignore that and it's grave, it's very serious.

"The world is changing right now and to be complacent is to be complicit, we are all learning what that looks like and what that means."

Her co-star Natasha Lyonne, who plays fellow inmate Nicky Nichols, added: "The system has been broken for so long that that is not necessarily what has changed.

"Maybe the difference is the feeling there is really no captain on deck, so in a way it has become our job as citizens to start paying that much more attention, which has raised the stakes on a personal level."

The show has long drawn praise for its diverse and mainly female cast and Schilling said she hopes the popularity of a show led by women has helped create more opportunities for actresses.

She said: "I really do hope the show has made some more elbow room for women, for real women, to be represented in different ways on camera.

"I would love it if there was a little more breathing room down the pike for people to have more options and more choices."

Lyonne added: "It's always radical to look at the statistics and discover just how far back these numbers go, whether it's with equal pay or female directors, whatever it is.

"The splash that Orange made coming on the scene was because we were so other and how scary that is. Why were we so other?

"We are still in such a deep minority despite our popularity but hopefully there has been some impact."

The fifth series of Orange Is The New Black is released on Netflix today.

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