The 1 Reason OITNB's Amanda Fuller Connected With Badison, Despite Her Being a "Monster"

For Amanda Fuller, playing Orange Is the New Black's season six big bad, Badison, was a serious test: a test of her confidence, a test of her ability to handle criticism, and of course, a test of how magically (and rapidly) she could perfect a Boston accent. We sat down with Fuller, who opened up about all things Litchfield, and how — despite being so unbelievably different from her character — she really connected with her. OITNB fans were introduced to Badison, the tough inmate who takes no prisoners, during season six. Ahead, find everything that Fuller had to say about Badison and some hints about what's next for her character.


As someone with three older brothers, and a self-proclaimed "goodie two-shoes," Fuller's role as Badison was a difficult but necessary challenge of her own character. "I think it's really important for anyone, whether an actor or not, to constantly be looking into yourself and finding other parts of yourself and growing in ways. For me, playing other people helps me do that," she shared. "[Badison] gave me opportunity. This is not something that I would ever think that I could even tackle."

Tackling different characters is what she does best, but playing a bully was new. "I don't really lead with that in my real life, so it's fun to explore. I also have three older brothers, so I'm used to fighting back and being snarky. But it's also scary, because people don't like bullies. I don't like bullies. I don't know anyone who does. Any character that I play — I've played victims; I've played murderers; I've played psychopaths; I've played bitchy cheerleaders — I'm used to having to attack characters that may not be so likable. I think God puts me in that position a lot. I don't know why, because I really like to be liked. I'm a very insecure person."


Not only did playing the bully completely bring Fuller out of her comfort zone, but by connecting with the character on a deeper level, she admits that Badison truly inspired her to be more secure as a person. "I feel like [Badison's] an incredibly insecure person, and that's where all that comes from. I think that's why I could connect with her, and feel like I could be in her skin even though she expresses it in very different ways," Fuller explained. "But to give myself permission to be that bold and that confident, even if it's just fluffing the feathers that aren't really there, just owning that and leading with it and committing to it in a way that is not so comfortable for me; it was really fun and good for my growth as a human being, even though that sounds odd because she's such an awful person."

Fuller says she's a "pushover," and is working really hard "to have more of a backbone" in real life, but her on-screen character does that to a new level. "If she weren't stuck in prison and didn't have the path that she had that led her there, then those wouldn't be such horrible characteristics to have. Just specifically in her circumstances and the cards that she's been dealt, and the way that she's dealt with people, it's reared its ugly head, and she's turned into this monster of a person."


Fuller is the first person to admit that her character is "an awful person," but she wants viewers to give Badison another chance. We know it's pretty difficult to renege judgments on someone who literally breaks another inmate's nose for entertainment, but Fuller wants us to consider the circumstances and understand that Badison herself is struggling. "It's hard for me because everyone wants to be liked, including Badison, and even though I don't think she's making the right choices in her life, I have a connection with her," she said. "When people attack her, it's hard for me not to be defensive. I want to be like, 'Yeah, I get it. I know she's a bully, and she sucks in that way,' but also, it's because she needs friends. She's alone and she's scared, and that's human to me."

In fact, Fuller thinks that one of the biggest problems is people attacking Badison for her hurtful actions, creating a vicious cycle of hatred. "Maybe don't hate her so much. Maybe the point is to learn that being hateful doesn't help. Maybe we could try to understand these kinds of characters," she said. "It's good to react to them and have a strong opinion, but compassion is also key in life. Maybe if Badison were more understood, she wouldn't be so awful. It's hard for me not to be defensive. But, I also totally get hating on her."

For Fuller's own real-life struggles with insecurities, she had to understand that the "roar of hatred" following Badison's debut was "the point of the character."


The moment Badison appeared on my TV screen, I thought to myself, Wow, this girl was either born and raised in Boston, or she's been studying Mark Wahlberg monologues for her entire life. Neither of which are correct, by the way, which is why you can imagine my feeling of surprise upon hearing Fuller's natural, California-born voice equipped with plenty of R's during our conversation. She explained that she "focused every moment" she could on researching the accent. One of her favorite accent inspirations: Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone. Ryan, combined with a whole lot of YouTube videos and crew members from Boston, helped Fuller nail the accent.

"We have YouTube. We have people, real people, videoing themselves all the time, and putting it on the internet for everyone to see. I used those sound bites, and just had them in my ears all the time," she explained. "It's funny because that accent is a touchy subject. Because it's so bold, but there's a lot of Bostonians that are like, 'That's not what we sound like,' and it's true. There are a lot of people from Boston that don't sound anything like her. But there are also some people from Boston that do, in certain areas, and I have the proof of it. She also has kind of an obnoxious personality, so you combine that with the accent and it's a lot. But that's who she was, and I had to say, 'F*ck it,' and go for it."

She added, "We had some crew members from Boston on the show, and they were my champions. They knew I was uneasy about the whole thing, because it's terrifying." Fuller said the crew members would reassure her of how she sounded and share stories about people they knew who had the same accent, which definitely helped. "I don't tend to play such bold characters, so it was just really fun."


Whether you watch the show leisurely over a few weeks, or binge every episode the minute it comes out and become fully invested in the actors' personal lives, one thing is clear: the cast and crew are a very special group of people. The drama that goes on behind bars is nonexistent in real life, and the off-screen relationships can attest to that. Entering the close-knit cast as a new inmate has potential to be intimidating and isolating, but Fuller described it as "magical."

"They're the best," Fuller said of the cast. "They have this kind of strength to them that is almost magnetic. They're used to welcoming people in and just immediately treating you like family. It was interesting for me because I've worked with Laura [Prepon] before, and we have a lot of mutual people in our lives and all these weird connections. It was kind of a trip. We were like, 'This is surreal. What is happening here?' It was not a full-circle moment that I ever anticipated, but it was really nice to have that connection from before, and just made it a little bit easier." Ironically enough, Fuller played Prepon's younger sister on That '70s Show.

She also credits the other season six additions for her positive experience. "I came in with this group of incredible women that were all also newcomers to the show and there's a camaraderie in that. We were instantly bonded, and they're just all just truly magnificent women," Fuller said. "It was authentically blissful to be around them all the time and play with them. I think the regulars who have been there a long time feed off of that. It was magical. It was the best possible version of what I could ever imagine."


Orange Is the New Black is one of the few shows to tackle a spectrum of issues important to women, specifically incarcerated women, and the show does it in such an honest, raw way. For Fuller, being part of something so powerful "means everything."

"Orange was the first show to give so many women such diverse characters to play, and to really have diversity in their casting and actually having these authentic portrayals of real people in challenging situations. They do it in such a clever way that's entertaining and funny, but also heartfelt and true," she told us. "To be a part of that, I'm so grateful. It felt like a dream come true. I've been acting since I was 8 years old; I grew up in the traditional sense of how being a female actor is. It's all about your looks, and it's all about being as pretty as you can be. Or, it used to be. So I'm having to retrain my brain now for the better. To embrace who I am, and all the flaws and assets that that might be. Orange paved the way for that to be possible, and to be working with those people on the ground level was a huge gift."


Despite not being able to reveal much about what's next for her character, Fuller has high hopes for Badison. "I had initially thought last season if something happened to Carol and Barb, Badison would be number one. She would pick up the dirt and be like, 'Yeah, now it's all about me,' and it didn't really end that way," she explains. "That was a little bit surprising for me, but it could go anywhere."

"We could find her utterly alone, or we could find her struggling to get to the top, or we could find her at the top and everything's just turned into chaos. It was so smart the way they left it, because it opens the door for anything to happen . . . but I hope she doesn't kill herself." Well, we agree with Fuller there.

Badison is a vicious bully struggling with her own inner demons, but we're absolutely looking forward to more of her ridiculous one-liners, and exploring her character on a deeper level in season seven.