DO GOOD EXCLUSIVE PART I: OITNB’s Fig (Alysia Reiner) Talks Orange Is The New Black, Family And Her Experience With Cancer

Alysia Reiner, actress on Orange is the New Black.  Mandatory on page photo credit: Josh Merwin/Creative Culture-ID

If you haven’t heard of the Netflix hit Orange is the New Black, you definitely have been living under a rock or hanging out in LaLa Land. And if you haven’t watched the show yet and have been curious, you need to put this show on your list to watch to find out what the fuss is all about. The outcome? I can guarantee you will be wanting more, like all of the other OITNB junkies out there. It’s an addiction that you can be proud of!

Celebrities Do Good’s Danity Donnaly recently had the opportunity to chat with OITNB star Alysia Reiner, aka Natalie Figueoro, the tough as nails assistant warden.

Danity bonded with Alysia over their toddler daughters Lola and Liv, shared a lot of laughs, got some dirt on the OITNB set, why and how Reiner got involved with the OITNB show and which role she initially auditioned for! In addition, we talked charity, family and so much more. Reiner even invited Danity out to her home…an offer D may just take up sometime in the future.

What Danity did find out about Reiner is her passion for life, love, family and work. Reiner is someone who has acted alongside some Hollywood heavy hitters and doesn’t take one moment for granted. Check out the highlights from the interview below:

Danity: I may be totally fan-girling now, but I am not too proud to admit that when I got the word I was going to be interviewing you I almost died.

Alysia Reiner (AR): (Laughs)

Danity: Girl, Orange is the New Black is so amazing, like it is a show that is very refreshing and everybody is talking about it and going on Netflix and binge-watching…I guess that is what they are calling it.

AR: I know, hilarious! It is hilarious.

Danity: You have been in so many different movies, alongside different stars…Kevin Costner (“For Love of the Game”), Zach Efron (“That Awkward Moment”, James Van Der Beek (“Backawards”), Diane Keaton (“Life Itself”) to name a few…

AR: I know..yes, I’ve worked with Morgan Freeman (“Life Itself”)…I’ve worked with some of the most amazing humans. I’m incredibly blessed. And being in this show is unlike anything I have ever experienced because people do have this, like incredible love for it. It is a blessing.


Danity: So what made you take a chance with this show? What really appealed to you about this script?

AR: To be honest, it was so easy. I read the pilot. I actually read to play Alex and it was the best pilot I had ever read. I thought it was absolutely genius and I read the book and I thought it was so, so good and I didn’t get the role and I was completely heartbroken.

So, I forgot about it. You have to and go on with the next. Then about a month later I got the call offering me the role of this character that I didn’t even know anything about (aka Natalie Figueroa). I knew nothing but with that incredible pilot, I was like, yes, yes, yes! I want to be involved in this project any way I can and it really has been amazing. When we were shooting season one we had no idea that this would have the love that it has. It has been an incredible experience.

I do want to say that I do love that there is a website called Celebrities Do Good pointing that out as, the role…walking through this experience…I must say that I love working with charities and I do a lot, a lot, a lot with them with whatever is going on in my life.

So like when my dad died of cancer very suddenly in 2002 I felt this need to, as I was walking through grief…that a lot of people have so much trouble talking about grief. I felt this big need to create a tool that could help people talk about their grief. So I made the movie called “Speed Grieving”. I got 10 grief counselors to do like awesome time with it and people were loving it, they very touched by it. I then worked with 10 grief counselors and social workers and we created a discussion guide that goes with it. So now it is in hospitals offices, cancer support communities all over the country and 100% proceeds of any purchase of it goes to the Cancer Support Community. SO that really was my first experience of creating and giving back.

DD: Awesome! Everyone knows you as the character as Fig…sexy, self-absorbed, villain (so to speak), but during the second season we see more of a softer Fig, a woman with a heart!

AR: We all have a heart and I think that is one of the geniuses of this show and you get to see so many different sides to people…We are all so layered and so well faceted in real life.

DD: Now a lot of my readers are wondering what the set atmosphere is like on OITNB?

AR: We have a blast! It is so much fun. There is so much love. There is so much cheerleading. It’s really fantastic. It is a heavenly set to walk on every day.

DD: What has been your favorite part of this whole journey in your whole career?

AR: Wow. You know I am a little bit of a Buddha and one of my favorite…I am always a fan of right now. Right now is my favorite part. You asked me now, I’d probably say right now is my favorite part. You know whatever, you are doing right now, be there fully.

DD: So, living in the moment.

AR: Yeah! That’s all we really have. So, it’s been..if you would ask me when I was shooting it, I would have know, right now is my favorite part.

DD: So what is one favorite piece of advice or saying that you live by?

AR: Ohhh…well. It would have to be one of two things. My husband has a tattoo on his wrist…it says “There is no perfect” and I love that saying. That is a great saying to live by. I think if we are looking to perfection we are setting ourselves up for failure.

Another one that I’ve been thinking about putting on my wrist is..”As Is”…It’s really what we have been talking about…this moment right here…right now..”As Is” is perfect. To appreciate every moment as it is and have great gratitude in every moment as it is.

DD: So you are saying right now you talking to me is probably the BEST moment? Right?

AR: Danity, come on! Yes! I’m sitting here and if I really take it all in….I’m on a fantastic TV show that people loving. I’m in Los Angeles actually cleaning the walls. I have my little Eco cleaning spray and we just purchased a house here in LA. My beautiful daughter…my healthy, healthy daughter is in the other room with my husband as he is building a bed because we have no furniture. And they are both happy and healthy. They’re playing. My body is healthy. Even though I lifted a lot of boxes and stuff I can still bend over to clean the bottom of the wall. If we look there is always so much to be grateful for. You know and here’s another perfect example of why this is such a perfect moment…My daughter this morning says to me, “Mommy I have an amazing imagination..Why do some people say that it is not…what I’m talking about..not real? You know, why do people say that? It IS real. It’s my imagination.”

The fact that I have a kid who thinks that way is amazing. A little girl who has been able to preserve her imaginary life this long that she really believes that her imagination is real still. It’s awesome. So I can go on and on about this moment. And that is what life is about to me. Look for the awesome!

DD: Girl, you are so awesome! Who inspires you the most?

AR: Oh my goodness. I would have to say my daughter. She is just my deepest inspiration. I have definitely have some great people who inspire me…Oprah. And there’s amazing actresses like Meryl Streep, who deeply inspires me and then if you look up Dallas Clayton..he’s an artist and children’s book author and he wrote the “Awesome Book of Sayings” and the “Awesome Book of Love” and you should definitely buy a copy for Lola. He inspires me. I can be inspired by so much on a daily basis.

DD: I know you are really busy and a family is a full time job in itself. You’re an’ve got all of these other things on your plate..what do you like to do in your spare time if there is such a thing?

AR: Laughs…I love to create stuff with my daughter, do crafty projects with her. I love doing things to stay healthy. I love yoga and working out. I love to paint and create and doing a lot of charity work.
I love to be outside, be with nature. Go play with God.

DD: Talking about charity here..I see so many different organizations that you are involved with..Habitat for Humanity, Our Time Theatre Company, 52nd Street Project, Actors for Autism, Joyful Heart Foundation, Comp2Kids, GEMS, and Circle of Health International to name a few.

AR: Yes, well, it definitely could be a full-time job, but it is not for me. However, I tend to get in a place for a year or so and I try to help whenever I can, as much as I can!

DD: I really admire you. You have so much energy. You are so down-to earth. And I am so, so excited for you and the entire cast of OITNB. I’m excited to see how Season 3 comes along and I know everybody else out there is sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for more.

AR: Aw, thank you. Yay, that’s awesome.

DD: Thanks so much for talking to us and hopefully we’ll be able to talk again.

AR: Definitely. Great, and hopefully Liv and Lola can have a chance to play.

DD: Yes, let’s do that.

Stay tuned for Part II of our interview with Alysia Reiner!


“Speed Grieving” was born out of my need to heal from grief, yet it has become so much more. It is a tool to help others struggling with ravaging emotions that most of us have no idea what to do with. I had a vision of millions of people watching this short film and holding discussions and educational events at hospices, hospitals, universities and medical schools. The idea has been to share the story so people will start talking about the grief, and my dream is for no one to ever feel they are alone in the grieving process.

It’s been a long and incredible journey from this dream in my head to the amazing reality of the film going to over 15 festivals. With the the release of the DVD, which includes not only the film, but a grief discussion guide co-written with social workers and grief experts from Cancer Support Community, the dream has come true. (Via Alysia Reiner)

For more information on how to get Reiner’s movie “Speed Grieving” go here.

For more on the Cancer Support Community, go here.

Follow Alysia Reiner on Twitter: HERE.


  1. I LOVE Orange is the New Black. I have been a fangirl since the first season came out and I binge-watched (yes, that’s what we’re calling it!) it in 2 days. This was an awesome interview. It is so interesting that Alysia Reiner first read for the role of Alex. I love getting little tidbits of info like this, it makes me look at the show and the people who play the characters in a whole new light, trying to imagine other people playing roles we can’t imagine anyone else playing after watching so much of the show.

  2. Obsessed with OITNB! I binged watched too. Great interview. Sounds like this part was made for her. I love her character too. Can’t wait for part 2!

  3. I just set the DVR, I have heard a lot about this show but always forget to watch when it comes on. I have heard it is a show I would like – hope so as there is not much out there lately to watch.

  4. Great interview – I hadn’t seen Reiner in anything else. I am a OITNB junkie – I go through a season in less than 2 days – it is so addicting. I got my Dad watching it In the second season, you got to learn a little more about Figueoro’s background and life….and just when you think you might feel sorry for her…BAM…she’s gone. That payback right before she exits is priceless.

  5. I love that we got to see another side of the character in the last few episodes of the second season. She wasn’t that bad a villain – she had a lot of difficult issues on her to end deal with too. Great, great acting from Alysia! She made us genuinely hate her. 🙂

  6. I just started watching this show, so I am not too familiar with her character yet. But you are right, she is tough as nails in the few episodes I’ve seen her in!

  7. I really need to watch this show. I have heard so many things about it and have friends that just rave about it. Loved the interview. Looking forward to part 2.

  8. I love this show. I am one the watched it in a weekend! I cant wait till the next season! I would love to interview Alex or Piper!

  9. Great interview. I’ve been completely obsessed with Orange is the New Black. I was so sad when I went through season two. Can’t wait to see what happens to her character…

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