When it comes to her role as Natalie “Fig” Figueroa on Netflix’s hit series “Orange Is The New Black” actress and activist Alysia Reiner might come off just as cold bolded as Fig is. The break out star has become known for her role as the series secondary antagonist of OITNB’s first two seasons where we watched her callously deal with the show’s female inmates.
But in a recent interview Reiner, the name behind the series’ character who ultimately became an anti-hero in later seasons, is proving she’s got a much softer heart than her character might lead us to believe.
During the series’ final season Fig took on the role of warden at an ICE detainment facility.
The highly talked about story plot has received rave reviews from critics for its timeliness and heartfelt depiction of current events related to immigration in the U.S. Many of the series beloved characters battled issues such as deportation, and saw one of the series original cast members sent back to a country she hardly knew.
As warden of the facility, Fig was often caught up in the terror of ICE and the depicted border crisis. Speaking about the experience of shooting these scenes with Buzzfeed, Reiner said that she found herself often experiencing overwhelm.
At one point, Reiner said that “just the imaginary circumstance of it” was upsetting.
“My character doesn’t break down. She handles it. She keeps it in,” Reiner said in the interview. “But after two takes, it was the first time in my life where I stopped a set, where I could not breathe and I could not stop crying. Just the idea of what’s going on… It’s deeply heartbreaking.”
After only having a “light” version of the experience that so many women, men, and children are currently enduring on U.S. soil, Reiner is encouraging fans of the show to get involved.
In her interview, Reiner encouraged fans of the show to contact “representatives to say this is not okay.”
Reiner specifically encouraged fans to contact their local representatives to address a recent incident involving ICE that had directly been influenced by the show. Earlier this month, after the show featured a real and free hotline that offered detainees a chance to contact lawyers, ICE shut it down.
“This hotline is necessary for people in detention centers. It’s horrific that it’s been shut down, so deeply wrong,” Reiner said during her interview and encouraged users to contact representatives to complain.
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While the US Supreme Court’s conservative-majority justices are seemingly ready to allow Trump to rescind Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Justice Sonia Sotomayor clearly stated her opinion that the court’s decision, “is not about the law; this is about our choice to destroy lives.” The 2012 policy shields immigrants, who were brought to the United States as children without documentation, from deportation and allows them to work for up to two years at a time. Research shows that DACA has reduced the number of undocumented immigrants living in poverty, and has improved mental health status for DACA participants and their children. The Trump administration rescinded DACA protections for nearly 700,000 recipients in 2017.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments to end DACA and is expected to deliver a decision by Spring 2020.
Two memos lie at the heart of the decision.
The first memo was begrudgingly given by then Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine C. Duke. Duke’s volunteer history included offering legal aid to immigrants. During a White House meeting with Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, she was pressured to issue a memo that would end DACA. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Duke that DACA was illegal, on the grounds of it exceeding presidential power. Duke issued a bare-bones memo that offered no policy reason for the end of DACA, except that it was unlawful. She later resigned.
Her replacement, Kirstjen Nielsen, retroactively justified the decision with a second memo, which included a new reason to end DACA: to project a message of consistency of enforcement of all immigration laws.
Now, US solicitor general Noel Francisco is arguing that Obama’s decision to introduce DACA exceeded presidential power.
“Basic administrative law is you look at what’s first given to you,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor told Francisco, not “what you add later.” Still, she said that even if “you ignore that and even look at the Nielsen memo, I think my colleagues have rightly pointed there’s a whole lot of reliance interests that weren’t looked at.” What’s crucial to this decision, according to Sotomayor, is that President Trump had told “DACA-eligible people that they were safe under him and that he would find a way to keep them here. And so he hasn’t and, instead, he’s done this.”
In 2017, Trump tweeted, in reference to DACA recipients, “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military?”
Trump tweeted Tuesday that DACA recipients are “far from angels.”
“Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from ‘angels,'” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “Some are very tough, hardened criminals. President Obama said he had no legal right to sign order, but would anyway. If Supreme Court remedies with overturn, a deal will be made with Dems for them to stay!”
A major requirement for DACA recipients is that they have no criminal record. “Trump is fear-mongering and falsely accusing people of color,” Dr. Eugene Gu tweeted. “Many DACA recipients are doctors, lawyers, professors, scientists, teachers, and integral members of society. Many have never set foot in their original countries for their whole lives and speak mainly English. Threatening to deport them through racist fear-mongering is evil.”
The events leading up to the memo led Sotomayor to believe “that this is not about the law; this is about our choice to destroy lives.”
Trump’s promise to protect DACA recipients during his campaign and his about-face is “something to be considered before you rescind a policy. Not just say I’ll give you six months to do it – to destroy your lives.” At the end of the day, Sotomayor is pointing out that Francisco’s argument is not evident in the memos. “Where is all of this in the memo? Where is all of this really considered and weighed? And where is the political decision made clearly,” she asked. Sotomayor concluded, “that this is not about the law; this is about our choice to destroy lives.”
Sotomayor also argued that DACA simply allows law enforcement agencies to prioritize its use of its limited resources.
“I have always had some difficulty in understanding the illegality of DACA,” Sotomayor offered her opinion. “We all know [ICE] has limited resources. It can’t, even when it wants to remove the vast majority of aliens we have here. And so I’ve always had some difficulty in understanding what’s wrong with an agency saying, we’re going to prioritize our removals, and for those people, like the DACA people who haven’t committed crimes, who are lawfully employed, who are paying taxes, who pose no threat to our security, and there’s a whole list of prerequisites, we’re not going to exercise our limited resources to try to get rid of those people. I — I still have an impossible time.”
Oh, and Sotomayor was interrupted numerous times by Francisco and her male peers.
A 2017 Northwestern Pritzker School of Law study found that male justices interrupt female justices three times as often as each other during oral arguments. The study also found that conservative justices were twice as likely to interrupt liberal justices than liberal justices were to interrupt their conservative peers. According to Supreme Court transcripts, Justice Sotomayor was interrupted by Justice Neil Gorsuch. The two both awkwardly apologized to each other when Sotomayor graciously told Gorsuch, “No, no, continue.”
When Justice Sotomayor was in the middle of her arguments, General Francisco interrupted her, saying, “So I guess I have three responses, Your Honor.” Sotomayor bluntly said, “All right. But let me just finish my question.” Francisco casually said, “Oh, sure,” to which Sotomayor incredulously asked, “Okay?” “Yeah,” Francisco responded to the Justice.
A decision is expected to be made public by Spring 2020.
It is possible that Disney has, yet again, out-done itself. On Tuesday, Disney finally launched its much-anticipated streaming service Disney+, the subscription-based platform that is set to release over 600 titles to their customers for $6.99 a month. The buzz around this service has long been building, with people expressing their excitement at the release of their long-forgotten childhood favorites since Disney+’s Twitter account tweeted out all of the titles that would become available on its launch.
For nostalgic millennials who grew up watching Disney Channel Original Movies, the premiere of this service has been nothing short of life-changing. People are taking to their social media feeds to express their excitement over forgotten favorites like “Smart House”, “Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century”, and “Don’t Look Under the Bed”. But the movie that Latinas are most excited about re-watching? “Gotta Kick It Up”.
For those of you who need a refresher, “Gotta Kick it Up” was a 2002 Disney Channel original movie that starred America Ferrera.
The movie follows a group of middle school girls who are trying to form a dance team in Los Angeles in the face of budget cuts. Scrambling for a coach, the girls turn to their biology teacher, Ms. Bartlett, to whip them into shape. Like any underdog tale, the aspiring dance team starts off as a mess, but with a lot of hard work, the girls soon start to believe in themselves. Through the course of the movie, the girls learn how to put their differences aside and work together to eventually qualify for nationals.
The Disney Channel movie was notable for not only having a primarily Latinx cast (which is a rarity even today), but for featuring baby-faced versions of successful Latina actresses like America Ferrera and Camille Guaty. Not only that, but the movie’s climax featured a rad dance scene that little girls everywhere tried to imitate in their living rooms (seriously–look it up).
“Gotta Kick It Up” was groundbreaking for its depiction of Latinx life that wasn’t centered on harmful stereotypes or cliche stories.
The movie was written by Meghan Cole, and was based on her experience as a Teach for America teacher at Nimitz Middle School in Huntington Park, Los Angeles. The decision to make these Latina students normal teens was a deliberate choice, according to Cole. “I wanted to have a Latino movie, with Latino kids doing great things,” she told The New York Times. “Not being stereotypical kids creating havoc”. Cole also expressed her desire for the movie to “portray positive teenage Latino role models and stress the importance of after-school programs”.
But arguably “Gotta Kick It Up”‘s greatest legacy was teaching a legion of youngsters the phrase “Sí, se puede!” as well as the history behind it. At one point during the movie, the girls are doubting themselves and their chances of winning the upcoming dance competition. In response, Daisy, the movie’s protagonist, tells the girls a brief history of her grandmother’s involvement in the Chicano movement and tells them about how Cesar Chavez’s rallying cry “Sí, se puede!” served to strengthen and unify the Mexican-American community. Throughout the movie, the girls repeat the phrase whenever they’re happy, doubtful, or scared.
Of course, Latinas on Twitter are not hesitating to shout from the rooftops the the return of “Gotta Kick It Up” to our TV screens.
It’s always exciting to be reminded of something that was so integral to your childhood that you may have forgotten about. The fact that Latinas can watch this movie again, as well as share it with a younger generation, is worth celebrating.
This Latina gave the entire Twitterverse a very informative PSA about Disney+’s movie catalog:
Not all heroes wear capes.
This person had very specific requirements for the conditions under which they’d pull out their wallet for yet ANOTHER streaming service:
Honestly, the service could cost $50 a month and we would shell out the money for a chance to be able to watch this cinematic masterpiece on repeat.
This person knows that his money is being spent on only the most important things in life:
Sometimes, you’ve got to be honest with yourself and decide what your priorities are in life. And sometimes, those priorities are binge-watching Disney Channel Original Movies all day.
This Latina became emotional about the impact that “Gotta Kick It Up” had on her when she was younger:
Yet somehow, it’s frustrating to know that not that much project has been made for Latinx representation in the media almost 15 years later.
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