Orange is the New Black’s Alysia Reiner Speaks on Behalf of Women’s Prison Association

by elizabeth on April 7, 2014

Many thanks to LTYM NYC 2012 cast member, Alysia Reiner, and current star of Orange Is The New Black for writing this post about our 2014 cause, WPA.

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What does it mean to be a good mother? What would you do for your child?

These are questions I have asked myself many times, will spend a lifetime continuing to ponder, and I imagine questions many mothers ask themselves.

Doing LTYM in 2012 was one of the most terrifying yet freeing experiences in my life. Terrifying  because I admitted the secret I thought made me a really sucky mother, that it felt like my sweet husband was now madly in love with another woman (my baby daughter) and vice versa, and how painful that was.  Freeing because in confessing these feelings first to my fellow LTYM performers, and then to a huge audience, I got so much support, understanding and relief, that the feelings truly passed after that. Sharing my fears and truths, hearing all these amazing women do the same, allowed me to actually feel like I might just be a pretty good momma after all.

And then I booked Orange Is The New Black. In the beginning to research this world and my character, I learned of the Women’s Prison Association, and their spectacular work in helping support women in prison and their families.  Those questions of what is a good mother and what would you do for your child came reeling back. Are you still a good mother if you have stolen to put food on the table for your baby, and are now in prison so you can’t pack your child’s lunch because you are living in a cell?

What I love so much about the WPA is that they don’t judge a woman for why she’s in prison, they ask the more important question: How can we help these women be the best mothers they can be? How can we help take care of these kids while their moms are away? How can we support these women to have the best possible chance for success when they get out, so they never have to go back again.?

Playing a ‘villain’ like Fig, while being a mother myself, I felt karmically compelled to find a way to give back to this world in a way Fig never does, and the WPA seemed a perfect recipient. I met Suz Summerall of KIRAKIRA jewelry through the incredible Claudine DeSola and Caravan Style Studios. I shared my vision with Suz, she shared in my enthusiasm, and before you can say recidivism, we had a plan. We designed a locket with the WPA’s mission etched on the back, and 100% of the proceeds go to the WPA.

YEP 100% of the profits.

Its been featured in LUCKY, COSMOPOLITAN, Refinery29, and many more. I think it makes the perfect Mother’s Day gift and after reading this post I hope you agree.

We all know that ‘it takes a village’ and for me, in trying to answer what it means to be a good mother, I’ve learned that a part of the equation is asking another question: What can I do to help other mothers be the best they can be?

Working with the WPA on this locket and working with LTYM help me feel part of an incredible community of moms who are doing their best. Both organizations give me more compassion, patience, and so much hope.

I invite you to join me the WPA & LTYM in buying a locket and in sharing that hope!

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Amy April 7, 2014 at 4:15 pm

I am so proud that one of our alum’s passion projects has become our LYTM NYC charity for this year. I think ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK has done so much to open all of our eyes to the realities of women in prison– why they are there, what they deserve from us once they get out– and I am so happy that you, Alysia, brought us together with WPA.

Jennifer May 6, 2014 at 1:47 pm

I agree with Amy. It’s a perfect partnership.

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