‘Orange is the New Black’ stars visit Kent State to ‘Get out the Vote’

Brooke Forrest

“Orange is the New Black” stars Taylor Schilling and Kate Mulgrew visited Kent State to discuss the importance of voting in next month’s election during a ‘Get Out the Vote’ campaign stop at the Student Center on Friday.

After some waited in line for over an hour the room filled with people wanting to meet Schilling and Mulgrew, who play Piper and Red on the popular Netflix series about a women’s prison.

“They let us out of prison for one day, to come here especially to Kent State,” Mulgrew said in her opening remarks. “To solicit your pledges that you will vote for secretary Clinton on the day, if not before.”

The pair’s ‘Get Out the Vote’ visit was in affiliation with the Ohio Democratic Party and was one of numerous stops in a tour of Ohio.

“I’m so excited to be here. I’m so happy you guys care enough to be in this room with us and talk about voting.” Schilling said. “This is such an important election, so many things that I think impact my life so deeply and I’m sure impact all of yours are at stake and have the potential to be taken away.”

Though the visit was not endorsed by any candidate the pair not only urged students to vote for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton but to also to “vote democrat up and down the ballot.”

David Pepper, Ohio Democratic Party chairman, also spoke at the event. Pepper said that young people in Ohio were essential in electing and reelecting president Barack Obama and will be even more important in attempting to elect Clinton.

“The reason we are here today is because the same thing holds true right now, the young people of Ohio will play an enormous role in determining the president. We have to show up in big numbers.” Pepper said.

Freshman zoology major Samantha DeSanto was one of numerous young Kent State voters who attended the event. She said she originally attended because she loves the show, but also because she wanted to be motivated to get out and vote.

“I just wanted to see them in person, it’s really cool,” DeSanto said. “I think this visit is really good cause as you can see it gets people out. There’s so many people here. It gets people motivated and thinking about today’s issues and the need for voting.”

Schilling mentioned that for many people in the room is may be their first election and joked that it wasn’t hers.

“If it’s your first election it’s a damn good one to start in because there are things we could lose,” Schilling said.

The OITNB stars referenced guns, education, women’s issues, immigration and climate change and the issues most concerning to them this election.

The appearance lasted only about 15 minutes, but the pair utilized their brief time to speak about the importance of voting in what they described as an unusual and important election.

Following their remarks they allowed for a short Q & A and took some photos with attendees before they left for their next campaign stop.

Though many were pleased with their chance to see the OITNB stars in person, they wished the event could’ve been longer.

“I thought it was cool but I think it was definitely more focused on meeting the actors than on political stuff,” said Sarah Welton, freshman integrated language arts major. “I think these types of events get the word out about elections, but I think people probably remember meeting celebrities more.”

Welton said she attended the event to be more politically active and said she hoped it could help get the word out and raise awareness for some voting and political issues.

The Kent State College Democrats helped organize the event. Hana Barkowitz, College Democrats president and a junior public relations major, was pleased with how the OITNB visit went.

“I thought it went really well … it was a lot of fun and there was a great turnout and (Schilling and Mulgrew) seemed to be really impressed with us here at Kent State so that’s awesome,” she said.

Barkowitz said she thought they addressed some key issues including the importance of not only voting but voting democrat on the whole ballot.

“I’m really happy they came, they were awesome,” Barkowitz said. “They are doing really good work, they are using their fame and power for good and that’s really awesome to see.”

Contact Brooke Forrest at [email protected].