By: Josh Estrin.
With summer in full swing, much of the time is spent out of doors. However, there is still ample time to curl up on the couch or simply allow oneself to melt into his or her favorite chair and indulge in the guilty pleasure of “Binge Watching”. While not a new phenomenon, enjoying this digital gluttony has become both socially acceptable and, against the backdrop of an irregularly scheduled life, a great time management tool, too. Binging fills the gap that seems to forever widen between episodic television and the ability to keep up with a regularly scheduled program.
During a recent conversation with Jessica Pimentel, the actress known for her role on what has come to be recognized as one of the most compelling new series in a long time as well as the binge watcher’s Nirvana, Orange is the New Black. I had a chance to get to know this dynamic lady and quickly realized that she is a firecracker on and off the screen. Pimentel who co-stars in the hit Netflix series as Maria Ruiz, an inmate at Litchfield Penitentiary is part of the “don’t mess with the Latinas gang”. But this woman is so much more than a one hit wonder, and so full of surprises that she truly embodies all the unexpected twists and turns that has put her on the radar of a diverse audience; an audience long starved for the authentic writing and acting that appears effortless. The show, although set in woman’s correctional facility, somehow has the ability to capture the stories, emotions, desires, hopes, and dreams that cross all socioeconomic and political lines and focus on the thing that brings us all together and binds us by the common thread known as humanity.
Joshua Estrin: What is your favorite part about the summer months?
Jessica Pimentel: Being outside. I am all about outdoor living and New York City, the boroughs and my personal favorite place to be me, Brooklyn, allow for all the things that bring me happiness in life. Summer is filled with people, music, food, and fun. It is an explosion of diversity and a time for creativity. The weather allows me to take my time to enjoy all the sights and sounds that the world around me has to offer; to take them in and feel them fully. It inspires me as a person, a woman and an artist.
JE: As a “Brooklynite” what are some of your favorite places to enjoy the summer?
JP: I like good food. I like food that is inspired and inspiring. My good friend Chris Santos always delivers with The Stanton Social and Beauty and Essex. Brooklyn Social has a great vibe and Kimoto Rooftop is another of my go-to places for great food and a sense of community. Then there is the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, with is history, the views, and the mix of people all there to enjoy themselves which makes for a perfect day to simply reconnect and unplug.
JE: It would be impossible to have a chat with you without mentioning the 300lb orange gorilla in the room. Seriously though, Orange is the New Black continues to pull people in. The new season is just starting and so many of us feel we have been starved for new storyline long enough. What can you tell me about this season and why do you think the show has such mass appeal?
JP: Well this season will be full of twists and turns and offer more of the backstories. You know I can’t give away any secrets and in reality, that would simply ruin all the fun. This season will not disappoint as it continues to be a show that pushes boundaries not simply for ratings, but rather as a consequence of compelling writing that tells a story about a group of women whose struggles might initially feel foreign to many. Let’s face it, they are women, they are predominantly minority women and they are locked up. The magic is that the writing creates a bridge and audiences are transformed. So many people tell me they never imagined they could care so much about a character or group of characters on television and identify with women who on the surface appear to be so different from them. These ladies are polarized and have lived extraordinary lives. The connection comes beneath the surface and between the words, as I believe we have all suffered disappointments, made mistakes, and said and done things we’ve regretted. Clearly, we don’t all end up incarcerated, but in that setting, we are given a chance to see these people at their best and their worst and like it or not we see a great deal of ourselves. It is a remarkable cast and I feel lucky to be a part of this journey.
JE: What do you fill your refrigerator with as your summer staples?
JP: I like to eat healthy organic foods and keep it simple so I can enjoy the taste of the food as it was intended. Clearly, along with cold press juices and every vegetable you can imagine I have a special place in my home and my heart for Café Bustello.
Summer is here and with it comes the opportunity for some of the best food, fun and the chance to get outside and reconnect not only with those places we frequent, but to embrace a sense of adventure and wanderlust. As we step outside of our comfort zones and allow the magic of all that makes NYC diverse and slightly mysterious, we look to Manhattan and all of her sister boroughs as places to explore the hidden treasures and take us on a summer adventure along with time set aside for some good binge television.
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