“Orange is the New Black” viewers were introduced to Taryn Manning’s self-proclaimed Christian disciple/prison inmate Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett nearly halfway through the critically acclaimed Netflix original series’ first season, and the meth-mouthed bible-thumper quickly became a fan favorite.
(Warning – this story contains spoilers if you have yet to complete “OITNB” Season 1! Seriously! You’ve been warned.)
While Pennsatucky preaches Christianity with every word, does she really believe what she spews to her fellow inmates at The Litch? Has she seen the Biblical error of her abortion-heavy, shotgun-toting ways?
In a new interview with AccessHollywood.com, Taryn answers some of our burning “OITNB” questions.
AccessHollywood.com: Is Pennsatucky really a Christian? Or is it all an act?
Taryn Manning: She’s a born-again Christian – she became a Christian. One thing that the writers did tell me last season is that she obviously comes from a background where she didn’t get much [attention]. She seeks validation, so she’s very radical. I believe she was radical in everything she did – from having six abortions to like, doing what she did to get [put in prison]. She’s just a radical, extreme person. So I think, yeah, she latched onto [religion]. It kind of gave her the sense that she could be somebody through that. I think she believes it, but I don’t really know if she knows what she’s talking about. She loses faith rather quickly when she feels let down, but that’s just somebody who doesn’t probably really know what they believe in. She’s a little lost. She’s a confused girl.
(Another warning – serious spoiler alerts ahead.)
Access: Are the pro-life activists who are sponsoring her defense aware that she was in the clinic to have an abortion? That she wasn’t there to shoot the medical staff in the name of the unborn?
Taryn: I don’t know for sure, but I feel like they don’t know that. I feel like they just think she shot up [the clinic] and they were like, ‘YEAH!’ – which already is weird in itself. It’s like, she killed somebody, guys! What’s wrong with you? So again, it’s these radical Christians that brought her under their wing – the ones that just throw Jesus Christ on you [and believe that] if you’re not saved by him, you’re going to hell. They brainwashed her.
Access: Is she anti-abortion now that she’s Christian?
Taryn: Yeah – for now. The one thing for me is like, in my mind, she loves men. She is not into gay shenanigans, with or without the prison system. I just don’t see her going there. She’s very much a girl. She doesn’t look great, but she definitely loves her men. That’s something that I always want to [stay] true to.
Access: Which Season 1 scene was the most emotionally challenging or uncomfortable for you to shoot?
Taryn: This whole role has been challenging. My mom has two sisters and one of them married a black man, so I have black cousins. I am so not racist, I’m not against gays. When my mom read the script, she was like ‘Are you sure? Are people going to dislike you?’ And I’m like, ‘I’m acting!’ This is such a character on so many levels. So that whole [aspect] has been challenging. Sometimes morally for me, I’m like, ‘Ugh! I have to just completely disconnect from Taryn.’ She is completely a designed character with no trace of me – well, [except for] my voice and stuff like that. The whole thing has been challenging. Probably one of the most challenging things is I’m not Christian. I very much believe in God, I’m very spiritual, I meditate, chant and do stuff like that. So, it’s almost like as if I was playing a doctor – just learning medical terms. For me, learning these prayers and executing them and giving them justice, in a sense, I want people to believe she’s read the Bible like, four times. So I’ve been going to church. I watched YouTube videos, I’ve read three books in the last couple of days that are by Christian authors – the knowledge, its changed my life, to be honest. I feel so enlightened by the things I’ve learned and I feel like I’ve been educated on religion. It’s just been really cool on many levels and very challenging. And just trying to keep her from becoming too much of a caricature and keeping her sincere and authentic within this crazy mold.
Access: If Pennsatucky had to sleep with one of the prison guards/staff, who would it be?
Taryn: I think it would be Pornstache [Pablo Schrieber]. I think she likes her a man. I personally think he’s hot! I like his mustache. He puts it on – and this is all love, he knows [how I feel] – and I’m like, ‘You’re so cute and weird in that mustache!’ We get along really well, Pablo and I. I just think that because there’s so much strife between [Pornstache and Pennsatucky] I could see them folding one day. He’s just perverted.
Access: And Pablo’s so creepy good as the sociopath rapist who took Mariska Hargitay [as Det. Olivia Benson] in the most recent ‘Law & Order: SVU’ season finale!
Taryn: I recently just watched that to re-watch him. He’s incredible. We get along so well – he’s so kind to me. He’s watched me do scenes and literally hugged me and [has] been like, ‘You’re on another level.’ I’m like, ‘You’re on another level.’ We just have that good camaraderie [of] good, supportive, seasoned actors. He’s sees the training in me and I see it in him. We just get along really well, you know? It’s really cool.
Access: Will we be seeing more of Pennsatucky’s backstory in Season 2?
Taryn: Yeah, I’m thinking [so]. [They’re] so careful with [what they tell us… but I feel it in my heart that they’re wanting to really dive into what makes this girl tick. Like when did she like, lose her mind? Was it the drugs? Was it the way she was raised?
Access: Which ‘OITNB’ actor is most unlike their character?
Taryn: Crazy Eyes! [Uzo Aduba] is such a girl. She looks nothing like that – she’s such a girly girl. She always has the cutest dresses on. When I first saw her out [of character] I was like, ‘You’re gorgeous!’ She’s nothing like her character. She is an incredible actress – I can’t even take it! She’s so nice and she’s been very supportive of me. We get along really well… When we [first] started filming she was heartbroken over a guy and I was too. We ended up sitting at lunch together and talking about our heartbreak and we were like, ‘We’ll get through it.’ It’s just cool. We get together and we’re a bunch of girls on set and we all talk at lunch and there’s just a lot of love and support. It’s cool.
“Orange is the New Black” Season 2 is currently in production. A premiere date has yet to be announced.