'Orange Is the New Black' Cast Fetes Premiere of Emotional 4th Season: "We Have to Celebrate"

The Netflix prison dramedy will "rivet you, unsettle you and change you," assures one castmember, while another suggests grabbing tissues when the new season drops at midnight PT.
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Cast of 'Orange Is the New Black' at the NYC premiere

Hours before the fourth season was set to drop on Netflix, the Orange Is the New Black cast was in high spirits for its New York City premiere, which doubled as a reunion since their shoot six months ago.

"I literally keep jumping all over the carpet because I want to hug my friends!" Jackie Cruz told The Hollywood Reporter outside the SVA Theatre in Chelsea on Thursday night. Jessica Pimentel echoed before the bash at the Top of the Standard, "Some of us don't even get to work with each other on set, and when we do, it's four in the morning and we're dirty and moody. Here, we're happy and laughing and looking our best, and we get to party all night."

The upbeat mood of the ensemble cast in attendance — including Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Natasha Lyonne, Taryn Manning, Laverne Cox, Samira Wiley, Dascha Polanco, Lea DeLaria, Diane Guerrero, Laura Gomez, Vicky Jeudy, Nick Sandow, Michael Harney and more, as well as creator Jenji Kohan — is a stark contrast to the heavy topics they tackle onscreen, including the prison system's treatment of mental illness and timely issues like Black Lives Matter.

"Jenji Kohan is not just a fluffy, thoughtless, silly little girl who wants to write and get famous in Hollywood. This is one of the most provocative and inquisitive minds I've ever encountered, and she's going to legitimize her own imagination," reflected Kate Mulgrew. "She's going to force you to contend with these issues in a way that's going to rivet you, unsettle you and change you."

Likewise, the creator and showrunner told the audience before screening the first episode, "I'm so excited to unleash this on the world and see how they react. We're already starting on season five and it's bananas."

Yael Stone, Adrienne Moore, Alysia Reiner and more castmembers wore a silver ribbon in solidarity with the victims of the Orlando tragedy. "This week more than ever, we need these conversations," said Cindy Holland, vp original content, Netflix, in introducing the episode. "We need these tears and we need the laughter that the series can bring us."

Despite such an emotional season and its untimely release, Uzo Aduba sees value in an optimistic perspective. "We have to celebrate — a bittersweet one, but one that honors the work and its pretty tough hurdles with as much heart, focus and commitment as we can," she told THR. "And more than anything, people will see current and topical issues rub up against creativity and artistry."

For fans ready to binge the particularly dark season at midnight PT, Mulgrew shared insightful advice: "Take a deep breath and let it go, which is what we're cautioned to do before we give birth. Something like that is about to happen."

Likewise, Samira Wiley warned with a big smile: "Get ready — with your tissues!"

Season four of Orange Is the New Black dropped at 12 a.m. PT/3 a.m. ET on Netflix Friday, June 17. Follow THR's complete OITNB coverage, including interviews with the cast, here.

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