‘Orange is the New Black’ star Natasha Lyonne to speak at Northwestern


Source: "Orange is the New Black" on Facebook

Actress Natasha Lyonne portrays Nicky Nichols on the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black.” Lyonne will come to Northwestern on Saturday as NU Hillel’s winter speaker.

Olivia Exstrum, Campus Editor

Actress Natasha Lyonne of the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” will speak at Northwestern on Saturday as NU Hillel’s winter speaker.

The event will be held at 7 p.m. in Ryan Family Auditorium. Tickets will go on sale Monday at 10 a.m.

Lyonne is known for her roles as Nicky Nichols on “Orange is the New Black” and Jessica in the 1999 film “American Pie.” She has made guest appearances on “Weeds,” “New Girl,” “Law and Order: SVU” and “Girls.” Lyonne has also performed in a variety of plays.

A native of New York, Lyonne grew up Orthodox Jewish and spent time in Israel in childhood. Both of Lyonne’s maternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors.

“We try to choose an individual who both offers experience in the entertainment industry, as well as a captivating Jewish story,” said SESP senior Brian Lasman, vice president of Hillel and co-chair of the organization’s speakers committee. “We try to balance the Jewishness and the celebrity factor. We thought she brought both of those to the table.”

Lasman said although the speaker decision is made internally, the committee is considering engaging the student body more in future selections, possibly through a survey.

Hillel president Julia Rudansky, a Weinberg senior, said the committee has debriefing sessions after speaker events to gauge what went well and what could be improved. She said Hillel makes a “wish list” of the speakers it wants.

Although A&O Productions co-sponsored last year’s speaker event, which featured actor James Franco, Rudansky said Hillel chose to put on this year’s event independently.

“We thought this year we were in the position to do it independently and find someone that brought all we were looking for in one speaker candidate,” she said. “I think that in certain spheres, Natasha is seen as a high-profile person in a popular show and I think she’s sort of on the brain right now.”

Lasman said he thinks both Jewish and non-Jewish students will be interested in seeing Lyonne.

“We think they will be interested in hearing about how an individual like Natasha balanced her Jewish identity with also being a Hollywood celebrity,” he said.

This story was updated at 11 p.m. Sunday.

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