Beth Dover Talks 'OITNB' Season 6 & The Importance of Voting & Activism (Exclusive Q&A)

Beth Dover has played a myriad of on-screen characters, from Shari in Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (as well as Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later) to Blanche on Another Period. However, you might know Beth from another one of her currently-running character portrayals—as Linda Ferguson on Orange Is the New Black. And we get it: you’ve already stayed up until midnight on Friday just to watch the entirety of Season 6 the moment Netflix updated its streaming queue. (We did the same, and there’s no shame in admitting it.)

Aside from portraying the cunningly confident Linda in OITNB, Beth is also an avid proponent for voting and exercising your right to vote. When she isn’t on set, she uses her free time and her social media platform to share noteworthy causes and issues, and she has some equally notable advice for fellow activists who want to use their voices to amplify the causes that impassion them. Beyond her spoil-free OITNB-related conversation, Beth Dover told us about the importance of voting, activism and the vital role that different forms of activism can take.

 

Get on out there y’all! #vote

A post shared by Beth Dover (@bethdover1) on

Her Campus: You portray Linda Ferguson in OITNB and in season 5, Linda got caught up in the Litchfield riots. At the end of the season, the prison guards still think she’s a prisoner and cart her off to max. Do you feel Linda has grown as a character from her time in the riot?

Beth Dover: I mean, she's certainly seen what the prison system is like up close and personal, and she’s had her eyes opened to the injustices and all of what's been happening. The new season takes place about a week after they all get on the busses, so we'll see what happens then, whether she takes that in a positive direction or negative direction. We'll see how that goes. She's certainly affected by it. But whether that makes her a good person or a bad person, we’ll see.

HC: Definitely. It'll be interesting to see where she takes her persona from here.

BD: Definitely. I think you guys won’t be disappointed with the new season. I just saw the first episode. We just had a screening of it a couple days ago in New York, and the first episode is so good. It's going to be a really strong season, I think.

HC: Is there anything that you're most excited for viewers to see this season?

BD: I think what's exciting is that we're going to be dealing with issues of maximum security prisons this season. So you're going to see a lot of, obviously, this regular cast, but you're going to see a whole new group of characters, a whole new set of circumstances, and there are going to be power struggles and all of that. It's going to be exciting. Kind of season 1 vibes in the sense that it’s a whole new prison—you’re kind of learning the ropes with everyone.

HC: The trailer shows your character in Litchfield Max getting her head shaved by a guard. Do you think spending time in max as a misidentified prisoner could influence Linda’s opinion of the MCC in the future of the series?

BD: I believe it probably could. I believe Linda is mad and is very mad, I’ll just say that.

HC: I would be, too. Do you think that Linda might continue to work with the MCC and use her competency at her job to ultimately help reform Litchfield to benefit the prisoners from the inside?

BD: She may. I know that Linda can't stay in that prison forever. She will be at some point get out. So, you'll see, you'll see how she deals with MCC in this season for sure.

HC:  That'll be exciting, kind of her reclaiming her power in a different sense, too.

BD: I believe, so. She will be reclaiming her power. She’ll be reclaiming her time.

HC: If you could give Linda any piece of advice through her journey, what would it be?

BD: Any piece of advice? Oh, man, that's a hard question. As an actor, it's hard for me to be like, ‘Okay, Linda’s a villain.’ So I have to have to have empathy for Linda. I try to justify her actions. You know, she's a survivor. You know, she really cares about her ambitions. I think my advice for Linda is to relax a little bit, to be a little bit more open to life coming at you slowly, and to be gentle with yourself. But she's not going to take my advice. She's, you know, she's Linda.

HC: Yes. Definitely. She’s stubborn, so advice might not be the best approach to her.

BD: No, no, no, no, no, Linda, she's not gonna take any of our advice.

HC: Have you learned anything about yourself from your time portraying Linda or any of the characters throughout your career?

BD: Well, Linda and I are very different people. But, I have learned I am a little uptight. I'm able to access her incredibly uptight nature because I think I also can be a little uptight, so I’ve realized that about myself. I try to chill out a little bit. You know, I don't make as many lists. I'm very much a Virgo, so I make a lot of lists. So I can get a little uptight, so I gotta chill out.

HC: But learning that about yourself can help you focus on those aspects of your life, as well as your astrology.

BD: Sure, absolutely. But, you know, on the other hand, I do get a lot of parts that kind of require me to be able to access that. So, I don't want to get rid of it entirely. You know what I mean? Actually owning it—it's just apart of my personality.

HC: When you aren’t on set, you're known for lending your support to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. Do you have any advice for college-age women who might want to get involved in advocating but might not know where to start or might be afraid of the time commitment?

BD: I feel like whatever you can do: vote. No matter what, vote. And vote for your progressive candidates and vote in your smaller elections. There's an organization that I'm a part of called The Hometown Project, where we go down to the smaller towns and kind of get out the vote in those elections. And, if you can get $5 a month to whatever organization that speaks to you, then do that. Social media for college-age people is a big thing. Let your friends know that that they should get out to vote, and there's a vote happening. I think I was scared, too, to be ultra political because I thought, ‘Oh, do I know enough?’ And it’s like, ‘You know what: yes, you do.’ Just get out there and let your voice be heard.

HC: And I think, kind of abolishing that sort of self-made gate-keeping where you think, you know, ‘I might not know enough to vote or I might not know enough to vote in the smaller elections in my town,’ can kind of help breed more activism in younger people.

BD: Absolutely. And it's important, especially right now, not to be apathetic to what's happening because we're living in some pretty dark times at the moment. I think there is hope, and I think it's you guys. It’s the young people voting, and it's incredibly important that you guys are political. I mean, young people are the future, to quote Whitney Houston. I didn't mean to do that, but it's true. 

HC: Definitely. Definitely. Because voting can enact change in whatever way that is.

BD: That's what we got to do. Absolutely, get out to vote for sure.

HC: You also use your social media platform to amplify and retweet important issues from Hurricane Harvey to gun laws. How do you think women can use their social media to bolster issues that they're passionate about?

BD: Well, my friend started this organization called Drain the NRA with about five other women from a mommy group—I have a two-year-old—that I'm also a part of. It has become such a big thing—like we protest outside of companies that give money to the NRA, that give member benefits to the NRA. We go out there and we protest outside and we post it, even if it's a protest of 30 of us, we post it on our social media. That gets the word out to other people. You know, these companies, like True Car, have stopped giving member benefits to the NRA and that's because five women from a mommy group on Facebook got together and said, ‘This is crazy. I don't want my children to live in a world where there's such an easy access to guns.’

You can make a difference [by] coming, and telling people can make a difference. Also, don't get overwhelmed by the causes. You should choose the causes that are the most important to you and really focus on that. Maybe you feel overwhelmed by all the different things, so choose the things that are important to you, and really try to make a change in that way.

HC: Absolutely, it’s better to focus your energy on something you're really passionate about, rather than something you're more apathetic about.

BD: And different people have different levels of activism that they're comfortable with. Some people don't like crowds, so they don't want to march, but maybe they can call their representatives on the phone, maybe they can sign petitions. We can give money once a month to Planned Parenthood. Whatever you can do is great.

HC: Absolutely. That kind of shows that activism is this multifaceted definition and there's no one way to be an activist.

BD: For sure. You don't have to win the activist award, just do the best you can. Try to change the course of history if you can, but in whatever little way you can.

Orange Is the New Black Season 6 is currently streaming on Netflix.