On Monday, actor Laura Gómez of Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black" told Cheddar "reality sometimes is too harsh to deal with, so fiction does the job."
Her comments follow the release of the hit show's seventh, and final, season on Friday, which sees the character she plays, Blanca Flores, navigate an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center.
"I think we have been doing this from the get-go, which is bringing these important topics to the table. But now — right now — we're living through this reality, which is [the] immigration crisis that we're going through," said Gómez. "We're going through an administration that is really demonizing immigrants."
Her character's story comes amid a larger effort by the show to incorporate immigration into its criminal justice and incarceration-oriented plotlines.
"I feel like we are here — I am here, as an immigrant myself — saying there's a rhetoric around this that is not right and is a little bit of divide-and-conquer. I think the show is humanizing these stories, and making us look directly into those issues, and making us confront it," she explained.
Last week, the show's staff announced the creation of the Poussey Washington Fund, a fund that will support several non-profits working on immigrant justice and criminal justice advocacy, including the Immigrant Defenders Law Center and Freedom for Immigrants.
Poussey Washington is the name of a beloved character on the show played by Samira Wiley who, at the end of the show's fourth season, is killed by a corrections officer.
"To use this fictional character to help real issues — and people are really living through those circumstances — is part of the power of the arts," said Gómez.
On Monday, Carolina Paiz, a writer and executive producer on the show, published an essay for Buzzfeed that described a trip to a detention center that the show's writing staff took. She explained why OITNB's focus has expanded to include immigration.
"What we saw there that day inspired an important part of our final season. But it also changed us. While we came in with wildly differing opinions on immigration, we all left stunned by what we'd witnessed, agreeing that it didn't stand for our American values," she wrote.