Enlarge Photo Credit: David Williams

Jessica Pimentel of Orange is the New Black and Alekhine’s Gun on the Differences Between Being an Actor and Being a Musician


The MetalSucks Podcast with Chuck and Godless / Jabberjaw
There’s a long-running joke in the entertainment industry that all movie stars really want to be rock stars and all rock stars really want to be movie stars. Of course, many artists have attempted to work as both musicians and actors, but the majority of them fail. When is the last time you listened to a Bruce Willis or Eddie Murphy album for fun? Did you rush out to see the new movie starring Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong when it was released a few weeks ago? Excited about Mariah Carey’s next starring role, are you?

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. Take, for example, our guest on the latest episode of The MetalSucks Podcast, Jessica Pimental. Jessica not only plays Maria Ruiz on the hit show Orange is the New Black, but she’s also the vocalist  Pimentel, vocalist for the kick-ass metal band Alekhine’s Gun (who appear on Volume 4 of MetalSucks’ completely free compilation series, NYC Sucks).

So how does Jessica manage to successfully exist within both of these worlds when so many others have failed? Well, obviously, she’s very, very talented… but we suspect it also has something to do with her acute understanding of the fact that although acting and playing music are both performative, they remain very different jobs with very different requirements. As Jessica told us:

“With actors, we fall in love with the characters they play… but they’re not anything like most of their characters. For example, myself. If you were expecting to meet Maria from the kitchen, you’re not going to get that… and sometimes I see [disappointment] in [people’s] faces. If I’m speaking to them or I’m out of context, if I’m, for example, wearing a King Diamond shirt walking down the street… they want the illusion of you… Whereas the music is coming from you directly, the words, the performance is you, your freest self, which is kind of the opposite [end of the performative] spectrum… you have to open yourself up both ways, but you have to lose your self-consciousness [as a musician]… as actors, we get to hide.”

See what we mean?

But just because Jessica is actually great at both of her jobs doesn’t mean those jobs are easy! She described the time crunch that comes with trying to balance both the show and the band:

“Its been rough this year… season for, Maria was kind of in the forefront… [so] we’ve had to kind of adjust the writing process and rehearsal process around my ever-changing schedule. There’s no set schedule in television, especially if you’re dealing with a cast this large and things that are shot inside and outside. I don’t know from day to day what days Im working. I have kind of an idea, but that can change at any time. So the writing process has changed a little bit in the sense that we’re doing more sending things back forth over the computer, as opposed to sitting down… or we’ll wait ’til everybody has a couple of song ideas and then sit down at somebody’s house… as opposed to going every week and working on stuff… It’s a little more futuristic way of doing stuff I guess.”

Listen to our entire interview with Jessica here or below. Other topics of discussion include the pros and cons of meeting your heroes, how acting saved her from depression, and much, much more.

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