Beth Dover is used to making people laugh. Her training in improv comedy has informed much of her career. However, for the last five years, she's been tapping into a much darker side to play a character audiences love to hate. As Linda Ferguson, the cutthroat prison executive on Orange is the New Black, Dover has shed a light on the villainy within corporations that can negatively impact people's lives. The final episodes of the hit Netflix series will be released on July 26, and Beth Dover promises that her OITNB character makes Season 7 even more intense than previous seasons. Dover talked to Elite Daily about the show's final season, what she really thinks about her character, and how Orange is the New Black has changed her life forever.
Villains come in different forms and this one comes in a power suit and heels.
Dover originally had no idea her character Linda would stick around for more than one season. Originally written to only appear in Season 4, Linda was introduced when the show's prison was bought by the corporation PolyCon. But once the writers got to know Dover and her sensibilities, they decided to flesh out her character and have Linda stick around. Linda even spent all of Season 5 in Litchfield Penitentiary itself when she hid out and pretended to be a prisoner during the riot that lasted the entirety of the season.
"Originally I was just playing her as a sort of socially tone-deaf, regular kind of lady," Dover tells Elite Daily. "Then to see who she ultimately was and who she ultimately became, it’s been a really fascinating journey."
After Linda's time as a fake prisoner, she becomes even more dedicated to claiming and maintaining power. Season 6 sees Linda running operations at Litchfield with an iron fist, and in the finale episode, Linda reveals her new plan to boost PolyCon revenue: Open and run a series of immigration detention centers. It provides a hint at what's to come in Season 7.
"The detention centers definitely are going to be dealt with this season," Dover says. "The series is tackling immigration issues this season, for sure. I can’t get too specific on the details of it. But it is intense, I can say that."
Orange is the New Black has never shied away from dealing with important socio-political issues, like the privatization of the prison system. Linda's actions demonstrate a lot of those issues, and Dover is happy to shed a light on them through her character.
"Villains come in different forms and this one comes in a power suit and heels. They don’t always look menacing and that’s important to realize," Dover explains. "But if it brings to light issues that are happening in our actual society — the problems that we actually have with the prison system and immigration — and if that’s the character I have to be [to] show how things need to change, then I’m happy to do it."
Dover's time on Orange is the New Black has had a big impact on her real life. Over the past five years of working on the show, she's grown close with her castmates and has become inspired to take a stand for positive change in the real world.
"I’ve gotten to meet some of the best people and gotten to do something that I feel is important work and be on a show that I feel has really changed the cultural conversation surrounding so many issues," Dover says. "And I’ve gotten to be friends with people and be more politically active with them."
Orange is the New Black will be over soon, but Dover isn't straying too far from Netflix. Next, she'll be starring in the Netflix series Medical Police, a spinoff of the Adult Swim comedy Children's Hospital, which she also starred in. That show will have Dover returning to her comedic roots. But before that, audiences can see Dover in all her villainous glory as Linda when Orange is the New Black returns for its final season on July 26 on Netflix.