After Netflix rolled out Orange is the New Black’s fifth season, fans were treated to a flashback sequence featuring Daya as a teenager, and they were shocked the producers found someone who so closely resembled Daya’s older self. The scenes explored Daya’s relationship with her mother, Aleida, and the bad parenting skills she portrayed while raising her young daughter.
Fourteen-year-old Daya in OITNB was actually portrayed by Dascha Polanco’s real life daughter, Dasany Kristal Gonzalez, which explains the uncanny resemblance. Dascha, though only 34, had Dasany when she was only 18, which also explains why someone so young would have a teenage daughter.
The OITNB star told LatinaMagazine that having a daughter at 18 did make things a bit more challenging for her, but she still regards Dasany as her a blessing and her miracle baby.
Dascha explained to Cosmopolitan that she used to be embarrassed by the fact that her children have two different fathers because of the stigma that comes with it. The 34-year-old actress is also mother to 7-year-old Aryam. Originally, she was afraid she would become a statistic and the connotations that came with it, but now she embraces it, saying it is what it is, and sometimes things work out that way.
This isn’t the first time that OITNB has utilized family members for flashback sequences. Laverne Cox, who plays Sophia Burset, transitioned from male to female. Cox is also trans, and her character is supposed to be in prison for having stolen money in order to complete her transition from male to female.
In the first season of OITNB, Sophia is shown as her pre-transition self. Originally, they tried to make Laverne look more like a man through make-up, although they had a lot of trouble doing so. They auditioned several men for the role before she divulged that she actually has a twin brother to Jodie Foster, who was directing the episode.
Jodie had M. Lamar (her brother’s stage name) audition for the part, and he was hired for the role immediately, giving a serious sense of authenticity to Sophia’s pre-transition past.
For Dasany, Dascha’s daughter, this is her first foray into acting, though it might lead to roles down the line now that she’s made her debut on a breakout hit.
"That's right, young Daya is played by 16-year-old Dasany Kristal Gonzalez, the eldest of Polanco's three children, who was born when Polanco was just 18 years old. She told Latina magazine back in 2015 that it was hard to raise her daughter alone — Polanco's mother passed away shortly after Dasany's birth, so Polanco was on her own." That makes her character on the show so much more relative to her life!! <3
[Featured Image by Netflix]