Adrienne C. Moore Talks ‘Orange Is The New Black’

Known for her carefree attitude and witty punchlines, Cindy “Black Cindy” Hayes, played by Adrienne C. Moore, is most likely one of your favorite inmates from the original Netflix series, Orange Is The New Black. Whether she’s sharing one of her hilarious anecdotes or putting her fellow inmates in check, you can always count on “Cindy” to bring the comic relief to any scene.

As the binge-watching begins, Adrienne shares that Black Cindy now goes by “Tova” and it’s just one of the many changes you’ll see this time around. According to the trailer, this season promises to keep viewers on edge as the minimum-security prison welcomes new inmates and addresses various issues within the system including race relations, overcrowding and more.

When Adrienne is not on the set of ‘OITNB’ or other TV and film projects, you’ll find her on stage. As season four of the hit series recently premiered on the popular streaming platform, she’s also starring in Taming of The Shrew at Delacorte Theatre in New York.

JET caught up with Adrienne to discuss OITNB’s most intense season, how the cast tackles their complex characters and why she loves giving back to aspiring young artists.

JET: What makes season four so intense?

Adrienne: I think when you have caged women and you’re making things more crowded, it intensifies everything. It’s like a little ripple in the pond and it becomes this great wave. Because there’s more [inmates] coming in, there’s more conflict when it comes to race, who’s in charge and who’s not, equality, prisoner’s rights and privatization. The heat is turned way up.

JET: OITNB touches on various topics including race, gender, sexuality and more. What’s challenging about bringing the script to life?

Adrienne: I think the challenge is always continuing to raise the stakes. The writers and the actors always want to stay current and topical. What I love about this show is that it does as much to entertain you as it does to educate you. You not only get this wonderful plethora of characters, but they’re all sending messages in their own different ways about what’s going on in our society. That’s one of the things I love about our show—it remains so current.

JET: Black Cindy is known for her sense of humor, but last season we saw a more serious side of her as she explored what Judaism meant to her. How do you tap into the different layers of Cindy?

Adrienne: I think it’s about tapping into me. There were so many parallels in odd ways. I always had this deep rooted belief that our characters choose us, we don’t choose them because I think life imitates art and vice versa. I trust this journey in my own life where I’m unfolding who Adrienne is. I’m interestingly working out a lot of these details through characters, and coincidentally I grew up in the South with a very religious upbringing. In the South, you were at the church pretty much every day of the week because something was always going on so it becomes ingrained in you.

Like Cindy and having that background, I understood there’s this fine line between religious dogma and relationship. That’s even been a journey finding out my own spirituality and what it really means as Cindy coins it so eloquently in her conversion speech, “Doing God.” To me, her learning as I was learning through my own personal journey, it’s really just the act of just doing God and not questioning or trying to define it and just do it and live it.

JET: Aside from acting on TV, you have a background in theatre. Can you tell us about Taming of the Shrew?

Adrienne: I’m so happy to talk about Taming of the Shrew! It’s an all-female cast with Janet McTeer, Cush Jumbo from The Good Wife, LaTanya Richardson Jackson and just a slew of just powerhouse, dynamic women. We are tackling Shakespeare and the interesting thing about Taming of the Shrew is the majority of the characters are all men. So the majority of these women are men in this play, and this process of getting Shakespeare under our tongue is no easy task. Then mastering or trying to figure out how to play a man has been a journey itself. We went through this physical and deplorable idea of what we thought men physically walk like and talk like, and then when we got this lesson on the idea men come from a place of, “I belong.” Women come from a place of, “Can I come in?” [Women] are always excusing and shrinking themselves so they don’t take up space, and men just take up space. With having an all-female cast makes it that much more exciting and powerful to experience.

JET: Speaking of theatre, you also work with the 52nd Street Project Theatre.

Adrienne: I love the 52nd Street Project Theatre! It’s an after school program for kids who want to be in the arts. I think it’s unfortunate that the schools are taking art out of the programs, but I’m so grateful that organizations like 52nd street Project Theatre exist. [52nd Street Project Theatre] not only provides dance, music, playwriting and costume development and anything involved with the arts, they also provide professionals who are in those specific industries to these students to mentor them and to encourage these students to create their work as well. So it’s this wonderful partnership that I am honored to be a part of. I started with them about 4 or 5 years ago and it’s an amazing program.

JET: Moving forward from OITNB, what roles are you looking to do and who would you like to work with?

Adrienne: That list is so long. I’m a great fan of Viola Davis. I’m a great fan of Cicely Tyson. I’m a great fan of Meryl Streep. I just feel like I’d say yes to anything because this is a journey. I want to direct and produce, so there are things that I’m hoping to delve into in my career. The possibilities are endless.

Season 4 of Orange Is The New Black is now available on Netflix.