Orange Is The New Black: 15 Actors Who Look Shockingly Different From Their Characters

Orange is the New Black - Diaz

Orange is the New Black has evolved from a show that followed around the one privileged blonde girl to a show that provides the perspectives of several interesting inmate within the prison facility.

The show has won many awards. The entire cast has won Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy three times at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Uzo Aduba, who portrays Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren, has won Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series at the Primetime Emmy Awards, and Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series at the Critics Choice Television Awards. The show has also won awards in casting.

Relying heavily on its cast, Orange is the New Black follows a diverse group of characters within a women’s prison facility in upstate New York. These actors do an amazing job of fully embodying their characters, so it’s difficult to imagine what they look like when they're not on the show.

Most of the actors look nothing like their characters, with many of the actors having exaggerated looks while on the show. There are a few actors in particular who stand out.

Here are the 15 Orange Is The New Black Actors Who Look Shockingly Different From Their Characters.

15 Taryn Manning (Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett)

Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett has evolved more than anyone else throughout the Orange is the New Black series. She previously had long hair, messed up teeth, and really liked meth.

Since then, Pennsatucky has become more focused on self-growth and her relationship with the guard (who raped her). While Pennsatucky is a lot more than this, she sure has gotten better-- and maybe a bit worse-- as the series has progressed.

Pennsatucky is portrayed by the well-known actress, Taryn Manning, who has been in many other shows and movies. Manning has been in 8 Mile, Hawaii Five-0, and Sons of Anarchy.

In real life, Manning looks neither like Pennsatucky before she changed, nor after she changed. Instead, Manning is much more blonde and a lot more edgy.

14 Pablo Schreiber (George "Pornstache" Mendez)

George "Pornstache" Mendez is portrayed by seasoned actor Pablo Schreiber. Since being a regular on Orange is the New Black, Schreiber's been in American Gods, 13 Hours, and The Brink.

While Pornstache hasn't truly been around in a while, he’s popped up now and then. After doing his time in jail, the sketchy and corrupt correctional officer was last seen in season 5 living with his mom. His cameo showed him still pinning over Dayanara Diaz and wanting to see their baby.

Pornstache wasn't a nickname given by coincidence. On the show, he looks like a porn star from the 1970s, and acts like one too.

In real life though, he has a much more modern look and his facial hair is certainly less creepy. Schreiber undoubtedly went full out to pull off Pornstache’s signature look.

13 Laura Gómez (Blanca Flores)

Blanca Flores is known for her crazy ideas, insane actions, and bushy eyebrows. Having started out as a minor character, Blanca has blossomed into a major one, with her own backstory and unique place at Litchfield.

She's stood up to guards, and decided to start a rebellion that consisted of her not showered for days on end. She also got Red incredibly high "vitamin pills." She's done a lot, and her character most likely isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

In real life, Blanca is portrayed by actress Laura Gómez whose eyebrows aren't bushy at all. It seems like a minor thing, but that one modification makes her look much different from the character she plays on Orange is the New Black.

In season 5, Blanca is given a makeover. Even then, she still doesn't look anything like she does in real life.

12 Kate Mulgrew (Galina "Red" Reznikov)

What would the show be without Red? She's the "prison mother" of many of the women that Orange is the New Black follows.

With her colored in eyebrows, bright red lips, and shocking red hair, Red has been a staple at Litchfield Penitentiary for a long time. You’re likely to see her busy cooking in the kitchen or helping Nicky stay clear from drugs.

Galina "Red" Reznikov is portrayed by well-known actress Kate Mulgrew. You might have seen her before on Star Trek: Voyager, or in The Black Donnellys and Warehouse 13.

In real life, she doesn't have bright red hair and her makeup isn’t as intense. Mulgrew also doesn't have the Russian accent in real life either. Instead Mulgrew looks well put together and professional.

Red is always up to something, so don’t expect to see Mulgrew’s character written off anytime soon.

11 Adrienne C. Moore (Cindy Hayes)

Adrienne C. Moore portrays Cindy Hayes on Orange is the New Black. She has a signature look that includes her hair being pulled up and into two sections, essentially two pigtail pompoms.

It's such an iconic look that Caputo recognizes Cindy just from her hair in a tabloid picture of her kissing Judy King. Her character has also evolved throughout the series, as audiences have watched her struggle with her daughter, who doesn't know Cindy is her mother, and her serious transition into Judaism (though it was originally just for the food).

Moore has made minor appearances on other shows such as 30 Rock and Blue Bloods. Netflix did a crossover once where Moore appeared as Cindy Hayes on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

When she's not on set, Moore changes up her look, especially when it comes to her gorgeous hair.

10 Julie Lake (Angie Rice)

Julie Lake is a Yale graduate who had previously worked with Orange is the New Black writer and producer, Nick Jones, before auditioning for the part of Angie on the show. Angie has never been the brightest, but she's always been funny when alongside her best friend, Leanne Taylor.

Angie has many characteristics that relate to her drug habit, especially when it comes to her teeth. Her teeth are dark, stained, and rotting. The teeth are fake, however.

Julie Lake looks pretty normal in real life, especially when you compare her to the character she regularly portrays-- particularly her teeth, which are pearly white. Lake has been in a few other minor onscreen roles, but she’s mostly a stage actress when she’s not playing the meth head for the Netflix show.

9 Selenis Leyva (Gloria Mendoza)

Selenis Leyva plays mother figure Gloria Mendoza on Orange is the New Black. Her character tries to keep her family together while behind bars. Her look isn't the most glamorous-- while she does wear some makeup most of the time, Gloria doesn't go as crazy with her look as some of the other inmates at Litchfield.

In real life, Leyva isn't afraid of a little lipstick and has rocked many different hairstyles. She's made an appearance on Veep, lent her voice to the Ice Age films, and will be in the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming movie.

Leyva is known for public her support of the LGBTQ community and their rights. She has talked about her sister, who is transgender, in several interviews.

8 Yael Stone (Lorna Morello)

On Orange is the New Black, Yael Stone plays Lorna Morello who has strong Italian roots and an annoying New York accent.

Her character is always wearing too much makeup, even at inappropriate times. There was a brief time where Lorna had given up all hope, and had thus even given up on her makeup routine, but this didn’t last long.

Yael Stone doesn't wear the type of makeup that Lorna does, and instead opts for subtly. Stone does have an accent, though, just not a New York one. She's originally from Australia.

Even after five seasons, Lorna is still crazy. Yael, however, has it pretty together. She has a handle on her makeup routine and is pretty fashionable.

She's been in a few other television series including Deep Water, Spirited, and will be in the upcoming mystery drama, Picnic at Hanging Rock, alongside Game of Throne's Natalie Dormer.

7 Nick Sandow (Joe Caputo)

Caputo is the one character at Litchfield who is not an inmate, but has managed to stay relevant throughout the series.

Orange is the New Black would be nothing without the unorganized prison life and the staff who help keep it this way. When MCC takes over Litchfield, things only get worse for Caputo. He forgets that the inmates are people and ends up being held hostage after Poussey's devastating death.

In real life, Nick Sandow looks almost like his character Joe Caputo, except for one thing: the mustache. In the real world, Sandow chooses to nix the mustache for either no facial hair or very little.

He's had minor appearances in both television shows and movies including Law & Order: Special Victims UnitMeadowland, and Zarra's Law.

6 Kelly Karbacz (Kasey Sankey)

Kasey Sankey is a somewhat forgettable character, which is saying something since she's a major part of the "white power" group that Piper started at Litchfield.

Portrayed by Kelly Karbacz, Kasey doesn't do much other than hate on people who don't look one hundred percent white.

The major physical difference between Karbacz and the character she portrays is that Karbacz actually smiles and shows joy, whereas Kasey is overly intense and negative.

There are other differences too. In real life, Karbacz is a lot more put together than the character she plays on Orange is the New Black. When she's not working for Netflix, Karbacz has made appearances in Get SmartLaw & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Do No Harm.

5 Natasha Lyonne (Nicky Nichols)

Nicky is one of everyone's favorite characters in Orange is the New Black. As the junkie who can't seem to stay clean, it's difficult not to love Nicky.

Portrayed by seasoned actress Natasha Lyonne, Nicky is complex, funny, and stands up for herself, even when she's wrong. Known for her large amount of unkempt hair and sunken eyes, Nicky has a very specific look.

In real life however, Lyonne manages to keep her hair on lock down. The largest difference between Lyonne and the character she plays on the show is that her character is supposed to look like a former, then current, junkie. Drugs can change a person's body and Nicky's physical features have reflected this.

Besides Orange is the New Black, you've probably seen Lyonne in American Pie, Portlandia, and Girls.

4 Danielle Brooks (Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson)

Danielle Brooks might be known for her role as Taystee on Orange is the New Black, but she's also done a lot more besides just this.

She has lent her voice to The Angry Birds Movie, has been in Netflix's Master of None, and has played Sofia in Broadway's revival of The Color Purple. 

Just like Pennsatucky, Taystee evolved as the series went on, having made a major change after the death of Poussey, though it takes her a long time to accept that her best friend is gone forever.

Taystee becomes the mom figure of her group once Vee dies. She starts wearing the muumuu type of dress that all the older women in the prison wear, and begins to devote her time to taking care of Suzanne.

In real life, Brooks looks a lot younger. She tries different looks with her makeup and has a fantastic wardrobe.

3 Francesca Curran (Helen "Skinhead Helen" Van Maele)

When Francesca Curran got the call to audition for the Netflix original seriesOrange is the New Black, she originally thought it was a joke.

Curran is a trained actress who had long blonde hair and no tattoos. When her agent reached out to her about the role as the skinhead, it took her some time to realize that he was serious.

Curran went in for the role and nailed it. She only auditioned twice. Two days after she finished auditioning, they called her in so they could shave her head.

Curran hadn't ever had a television role before, so her acting career has started out with a splash. For the past two season, she’s played Helen, a skinhead who is part of the "white resistance" group that was accidentally started by Piper.

Curran doesn't have a unique storyline all to herself yet, but she greatly adds to the group that she's in, and (hopefully) it's only a matter of time before we seen her background.

2 Dascha Polanco (Dayanara Diaz)

When Dayanara first arrived at the Litchfield prison, she became pregnant after starting a relationship with prison security officer John Bennett. She continues to be relevant, and has had a major role in Orange is the New Black's fifth season, where she is the first one who gets ahold of the gun.

Portrayed by actress Dascha Polanco, Dayanara is supposed to be a young woman in her twenties. In reality, Polanco is thirty four years old. Her daughter portrays the teenage version of Dayanara on the show.

Polanco is known for being fabulous in real life. She always looks on point and fresh, while the character she portrays is an artist who cares more about what she puts on paper than what she does with her hair.

Since landing the part on Orange is the New Black, Polanco has starred opposite Jennifer Lawrence in Joy and Adam Sandler in The Cobbler.

1 Uzo Aduba (Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren)

Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren is by far the best, most complex character on Orange is the New Black. The actress who plays her, Uzo Aduba, is amazing at what she does.

Aduba didn't even audition for the part of Suzanne originally. She first went in to audition for the role of Watson, the track star. After she landed the role of Suzanne instead, it turned out that she wasn't even supposed to be a regular on the show.

However, she impressed producers so much that they kept her on past the two episodes that she was originally meant to be in.

In real life, Aduba is a renowned Broadway actress. She also played Gilda in The Wiz Live! on NBC back in 2015.

While on the show, Aduba has to portray Suzanne as though she's a six year old child inside a grown woman's body. Outside the show, Aduba can be her real self, and it urns out that her real self is incredible.


Which Orange is the New Black actor shocked you the most with their real look? Let us know in the comments!

More in Lists