Dominican-American actress, Jessica Pimentel, has a leading role on the hit Netflix series, Orange Is The New Black, a recurring role on Person of Interest, is the lead singer of Alekhine’s Gun and is a classically trained violinist. In other words, anything Jessica touches surely turns to gold. This gorgeous and talented graduate of La Guardia High School for the Performing Arts has worked very hard in the entertainment industry, paying her dues and gaining well-deserved success.
Inside Puerto Plata had the opportunity to catch up with this incredible talent and learn more about what drives Ms. Pimentel.
We were shocked to hear that prior to OITNB, you were considering putting acting on hold. I bet you are glad you held out a little bit longer. Can you tell us about your OITNB audition process and how you came across the role?
Jessica: I had auditioned for Orange, but for a different part. I had been called back a couple times, but didn’t get the part. I really didn’t think it was going anywhere, since I did not get the part. I was also auditioning for another show and I didn’t get that part either. I felt like I was done with acting and that I was never going to make it. I was tired and told my manager I wanted to take a break. I was considering taking a well-paid job with Microsoft at this point.
My manager said she had one last audition for me, and it was for Orange, but it was for a different part, a character named Maria. I was like, [laughing] “Of course it is, another Latina part”. Then she told me that Maria was pregnant, and I was like, (laughing) “Of course she is, another pregnant Latina part”. And then she told me that Maria is pregnant and in jail, and I was like, [laughing] “Of course, pregnant, Latina and in jail”. Typical stereotype. When I auditioned I didn’t expect anything to come out of it. I thought it was a good audition, but didn’t want to get my hopes up. A day or two later, I got the part and started working almost immediately.
Now that season 3 is out (and amazing), OITNB fans were shocked and saddened when Yadriel made it clear he would not be bringing Maria’s daughter back. How did you draw such raw emotion on this subject? You did a phenomenal job!
Jessica: Thank you so much. Pepa is Maria’s reason for living. It is her hope that gets her through. I believe we all have some kind of hope that gets us through difficult times whether it’s your faith, the love of a child, a promise of a reward at the end of the road… [Yadriel] took her hope away.
Jessica sees similarities between her character, Maria, and her own mother. “They’re both tough yet sweet”. From an early age, Jessica’s mother, Loida, encouraged her to always work hard and think big, which is exactly what Jessica has done. Upon learning of Jessica’s SAG nomination, her mother remarked, “I told you you’re going to make it”.
How do you feel season 3 differed most from the other two seasons?
Jessica: I really loved all the layers of interaction and the mingling of people who never spoke before. I think this season is beautiful. I am so proud of it.
Aside from acting, Jessica is a violinist and metal and hardcore musician extraordinaire. We asked Jessica when her musical talents began.
Jessica: I started as a classical violinist at a very young age. I literally would eat, sleep and breathe violin.
While attending her performing arts junior high school, Jessica enrolled in an acting program, which gave her a break from her intensive music regimen. However, while at La Guardia High School for the Performing Arts she found out that she was experiencing nerve and tissue damage in her hands and wrists, which led her to audition for, and get accepted to the full theater program.
Alekhine’s Gun is an amazing metal band. What do you feel has been the secret to your success?
Jessica: I don’t want to do anything other than what I am doing. I feel the key is to absolutely LOVE what you do. Be true to yourself and your integrity. Listen to your heart and have patience and remember there is no finish line. The ups and downs are all part of the journey
If you had to choose between music or acting, what would your choice be and why?
Jessica: I couldn’t choose one over the other. I love them both; they are both such a large part of my life and who I am.
You have a very impressive acting range. What are some roles you would like to see yourself playing in the future?
Jessica: I would love to get into some darker roles; some Sci-Fi and Thriller type of roles.
Since you are so incredibly busy with your acting and music careers, when you do find spare time, and how do you like to spend it?
Jessica: For Orange Is The New Black, I work a few days and then I’m off a couple days, so I am able to use the time I am off to recover, and also review the next script.
You have been very involved in several charitable causes. What causes in particular would you like to shine a light on?
Jessica: The Women’s Prison Association does amazing work in helping women get their lives back after jail. Meeting the staff and the women they help has been key for me to help create the role of Maria. These women are true heroes and role models.
Are there any projects you are currently working on that you can share with us?
Jessica: Season 4 [of Orange Is The New Black] is already filming!!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Jessica: I don’t…. I just see today. And today I am the luckiest woman on earth.