‘Orange Is the New Black’ star Taylor Schilling stays fit with meditation and yoga

Taylor Schilling, star of "Orange Is the New Black," says she doesn't eat a restrictive diet but does try to keep things balanced.
Taylor Schilling, star of “Orange Is the New Black,” says she doesn’t eat a restrictive diet but does try to keep things balanced.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

She played Ben Affleck’s wife in the Academy Award-winning film “Argo” and the object of Zac Efron’s affection in the film adaptation of “The Lucky One.” But Taylor Schilling did not find fame until she put on an orange prison jumpsuit to star in the Netflix hit series “Orange Is the New Black.” Her character, Piper Chapman, is educated, affluent and unpredictable.

Schilling, 30, is up for a Golden Globe on Sunday, nominated as a lead actress in a TV comedy series (her second consecutive Golden Globe nomination); last year she also was nominated for an Emmy.

At 11, Schilling launched her acting career with a part in a school musical and has been honing her comic timing and improv skills ever since. In her latest film, “The Overnight,” about a playmate gone wild, Schilling stars opposite Jason Schwartzman and Adam Scott. The comedy premieres at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 23. And she and Peter Dinklage are in previews for an off-Broadway production of the Russian comedy “A Month in the Country.” With Season 3 of “Orange Is the New Black” about to begin, Schilling said the new episodes are “lighter, funnier and a bit wilder.”


Your schedule is hectic, but you seem calm. How do you do it?

Every morning I meditate for 10 to 30 minutes. And I make time to exercise. …I believe if you make an effort to be “still,” you are on the right track. It’s like going to the gym; whatever you do is better than nothing. … I also make time to read. If I’m feeling impulsive, I buy e-books. But I like real books. Turning pages is satisfying.

What do you do for exercise?

I practice yoga a couple of times a week. A year ago, I started doing Pilates. Sometimes I work out with a trainer. I do Spin classes but prefer going with a friend. Living by the Hudson River, every day I try to walk or run outside.

What foods do you choose or avoid?

I don’t eat a lot of sugar. I try not to get caught up in my appearance but to keep the focus on my insides. So I don’t do juice cleanses or fast. I don’t diet. I eat carbs. Usually, I eat three fairly balanced meals a day, plus two snacks. For snacking, I’m a big fan of string cheese or nuts. I drink a lot of water and sometimes green tea with a little lemon.


How have you bounced back from career disappointments?

Resilience has always been part of my makeup. As I get older, [I see that] the more normal my real life is, the more I can take risks and deal with the ups and downs … that come with my work. Having authentic relationships with people I can be myself around is important. Every day, no matter what I’m doing or where I am, I talk to my friends and people I love.

Your father is a former prosecutor. What does he say about you playing a felon? Do you watch your show with him?

The first day I got my jumpsuit that said “Property of DOC” [Department of Corrections], I sent him a picture. He texted back something like “Heart attack!”… He’s not a big fan of nudity. We don’t talk about it. We don’t watch together — nor will we ever.

Nancy Lloyd has also talked to Lucy Liu and Michael Strahan about their fitness habits.