The New Yorker 9: Selenis Leyva

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Born in Cuba and raised in New York City, actress Selenis Leyva is well known to television viewers for her breakout role as “Gloria Mendoza” in the hit series “Orange Is the New Black.” Her television credits include a recurring role on “Law & Order: SVU” and guest starring roles on “Blue Bloods,” “The Good Wife,” “Girls,” “Elementary,” “The Following,” “The Sopranos,” and “Third Watch.” On the big screen, Leyva is often recognized for her roles in “Sex & The City 2” and the critically acclaimed “Maria Full of Grace,” as well as for voiceovers in the hit animation films “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” “EPIC,” and “Ice Age: Dawn of Dinosaurs.”

In true NYC style, this single mom to a 12 year old daughter gives back to several charitable organizations, including her role as an ambassador for the Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research. She is also actively involved in the fight for LGBT rights. Here are a few of this award-winning actress’ favorite things about her hometown.

  1. Best thing about living in NYC?
    The different cultures, great museums, endless nightlife, and array of restaurants.
  2. Favorite restaurant?
    I love Sarabeth for a great brunch.
  3. Favorite neighborhood?  
    Soho … I could walk all day up and down the streets going into stores and taking mini breaks at cafés.
  4. The best part of my job is… 
    I get to tell a story! We have been able to give voices to incarcerated women and still entertain people. I get to work with the most amazing group of people currently in Hollywood. The actors, writers, directors, and crew on “Orange is The New Black” are all priceless.
  5. A visit to New York isn’t complete until…
    …you take a stroll through Central Park.
  6. Subways or cabs? 
    If you are visiting, take the subway! It’s an experience.
  7. Best advice you’ve ever received?
    It’s not how fast you get there, it’s how long you last! It’s a great reminder when I get restless.
  8. One “must-have” beauty item?   
    A good tinted moisturizer.
  9. How do you define beauty?
    Beauty is confidence! Always hold your head up high!


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