Emmy contender: ‘Orange’s’ Lorraine Toussaint on playing the ‘psycho’ Vee

Lorraine Toussaint’s ignorance about her “Orange Is the New Black” character turned out to be a blissful thing.

The veteran actress played Yvonne “Vee” Parker, a character introduced in the Netflix drama’s second season.

Vee is someone who is fearless in her ruthlessness. In the span of the season, she drove a wedge between Taystee (Danielle Brooks) and Poussey (Samira Wiley), manipulated her way into gaining the trust of Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba) -- only to turn her back on her -- and nearly killed Red (Kate Mulgrew) with a lock in the sock smackdown.

It’s a trajectory that Toussaint didn’t have an inkling would be ahead of her until her first day on set.


“If I had known half of what Vee eventually ended up doing, I probably would have thought that I couldn’t do it,” Toussaint said when she stopped by the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday for a live-streaming chat.

She continued: “I would have thought that I couldn’t do it, spiritually, psychologically, karmically. I wouldn’t want to have seen that going in. I would have been scared. It was actually a blessing that I didn’t know where I was heading until I was there.”

And while the flashback story lines often offer some redemption for what propelled the decisions made by some of the characters before they ended up in prison, Toussaint’s Vee didn’t really get that. And Toussaint found that interesting.

“It’s more deeply buried in her, you’d have to keep peeling a bit longer,” she said. “You’d have to keep peeling to find that.”

When viewers last saw Vee, she was slammed into by a van after escaping from the Litchfield Correctional Facility. But is she dead?

“She definitely took a hit, and took it well, I thought. Her eyes were still open. Now listen, according to [series creator] Jenji Kohan, Vee is dead. According to Lorraine, I know Vee. I don’t know how she’s dead. I’m a little afraid that she’s not dead .... I don’t feel like Vee is dead .... For the most part, she’s dead.”

For the most part?

“I don’t know what else to say.”


Not that her schedule wouldn’t be full otherwise. Toussaint has been keeping busy since she last suited up in her inmate uniform, appearing in the Oscar-nominated film “Selma” and landing a role as a police lieutenant on the ABC drama “Forever.” And she’s currently shooting a film in South Carolina.

Watch the video to learn more about Toussaint’s dive into Vee, the shenanigans that happen off-set of the large ensemble show, and whether she thinks Vee has shed a tear in prison.

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