“Orange Is The New Black” Star Barbara Rosenblat Gives Lecture On Campus

It is not every day students get to sit in on a lecture with someone who is currently starring on a hit show and ask them any question they desire. On Nov. 19, students filled the 5th floor of the commons to hear the woman who plays Ms. Rosa on “Orange Is The New Black” talk about her life, career and projects that are near and dear to her heart.

Barbara Rosenblat has quite the resume–she has voiced over 500 audio books, starred on Broadway and has appeared in many television shows. With every project that is handed to her, Rosenblat brings her A-game and puts everything she has into that. That mindset is not only used when it comes to jobs but to certain organizations as well.

Photo by Christian Roodal
Photo by Christian Roodal

While Rosenblat was prepared to answer any questions about that thing she refers to as, “That Orange show,” her first duty was to bring attention to the students at Manhattan College about a certain organization that she is involved with called the Ali Forney Center. This non-profit focuses to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other questioning LGBTQ youth from homelessness and to help them transition from adolescence to adulthood. She asked the students to open their wallets and donate whatever they had to help the kids. Rosenblat knew how to get people to open their wallets a little extra because she auctioned off some “Orange Is The New Black” memorabilia such as a flip flop and a hand fan from the Pride Parade in NYC. Each piece went for $40.

“I loved that students came out and donated,” Rosenblat said.

Rosenblat talked about the world of audiobooks and even pulled a few of her favorite readings to share with the audience. Her calm, smooth and comical voice brought readings to life and evoked laughter throughout the audience. While she has a plethora of books that she has voiced over the years, however, the role people know her the most for is a role that was actually created for her.

When Rosenblat first heard of Orange she knew that it was a show that she wanted to be a part of. She actually auditioned for the role of Red but after her audition the show saw her differently. She left the audition and was told that she would be put in the prison one way or another. Soon enough, the role of Ms. Rosa was offered to her-the only problem was there was no story to her.

Throughout the next two seasons Ms. Rosa went from just another face in the prison to a woman with a dark and twisted back story. Ms. Rosa is a cancer patient who is spending the last months of her life in an all women’s prison. It is a story line that has developed tremendously and Rosenblat could not be happier.

“With this show a bunch of people are looking at you in awe because you changed them. It’s overwhelming to see this show affecting other people,” Rosenblat said.

The success of the show is something that Rosenblat or the rest of the cast and crew of the show could have never predicted.

Photo by Christian Roodal
Photo by Christian Roodal

“Its a phenomena,” Rosenblat said. “People are salivating at the mouth over this show. My role expanded in one of the most breakout shows in TV history and that is crazy.”

A phenomena is the perfect word to describe the hit series that took over Netflix. Students who are fans of the hit show were, like Rosenblat said, salivating at the mouth to find out any facts they could about the beloved show.

For Rosenblat to get into the character of Ms. Rosa it takes her three hours of makeup and she also discussed how people, like Jodie Foster, had no idea it was her underneath all the makeup that includes a bald cap and fake eyebrows.

Even people who have never heard of Rosenblat are inspired after seeing her in person and the strong presence she brings.

“She was spectacular,” junior Dashawn Morgan said. “She brought with her this soulful energy that comes around once in a generation. I admit that I have never seen an episode of “Orange Is The New Black” or listened to one of her audio books, but that will definitely change after seeing her in person.”

“I am a huge fan of the show so to have a cast member come and speak at school is awesome. She was so interesting and brought so much to the lecture,” junior Elizabeth Pinto said.

As many fans of the show know, Rosenblat’s character plays a big part in the final scene of season 2. As for any spoilers for the upcoming season and Ms. Rosa’s story line no one knows what is going to happen. Season 3 will arrive to Netflix in June 2015 and that is when all will be revealed.

“Orange Is The New Black” is currently streaming on Netflix and for more information about the Ali Forney Center please visit aliforneycenter.org