‘Orange is the New Black’ star Lea DeLaria visits HPU


On April 17, High Point University had the distinct pleasure of hosting “Orange is the New Black” star Lea DeLaria for a performance in the Hayworth Fine Arts Center.

DeLaria’s comedic show was a commentary on how the LGBT community has transformed throughout the years and throughout her own career in the entertainment world. Her frankness and abrasive language can come off as strong at times; however, she makes people listen to what she has to say and is completely unashamed of showing how she feels.

DeLaria was the first openly gay comedian on late night television in the early 90s, with her appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show. Later that year, in December 1993, she hosted the first all-gay comedy special, Comedy Central’s “Out There.”

Over the past 20 years, DeLaria has starred and guest starred in a variety of television shows and movies, and she has also starred in Broadway and Off – Broadway productions. Additionally, DeLaria is a singer, and she has released multiple jazz albums.

Even though she has had to face so much adversity, she has changed the negative energy into something relatable and has made strides in furthering acceptance. When DeLaria enters a room, she makes everyone pay attention to her and what she has to say.

While she did use a lot of profanity, she did so with a purpose which in turn served to strengthen her point of view. DeLaria’s charisma is what truly makes her such an influential and popular leader. She is truly a transformational leader within the LGBT community in the entertainment business because she saw a need for change, developed a vision of what she knew should be the norms, and institutionalized the change. She is a force who has so much energy that it affects others.

Her interactive performance was hilarious and the Question and Answer portion of the night was great. Of course, the big question everyone wanted answered was to know something about the upcoming season of “Orange is the New Black.” DeLaria’s response was, “We have started filming it and I am in it.” She laughed and then said, “That is all that I can share because I want to keep my job.”

The atmosphere created within the audience was positively exuberant. DeLaria repeatedly put forth that there needs to be more acceptance of everyone in society and to not judge people on appearances or preferences. While society in general has made progress toward tolerance, there is so much more ahead that needs to be overcome.

The personal stories she shared were astoundingly real, from tales of homophobia that she has encountered to stories of empowerment recently. Her story in itself truly shows the distance in which society has progressed and how much more there needs to change. While Orange is the New Black is what brought DeLaria to High Point, her message was thoroughly impressionable. She was effortlessly light – hearted and did not take herself too seriously.

DeLaria will star in the upcoming season of “Orange is the New Black,” which will be released in June, and during her show on campus, she revealed that the show will also begin filming season 4 shortly after the current season is released. In addition, DeLaria will soon be releasing an album of jazz-style David Bowie covers called House of David, a project which she created through crowd funding.

It was an honor and a pleasure to have had DeLaria as a guest on our campus. The auditorium was full and the crowd was ecstatic to have such an amazing person come to campus and speak about something she is so passionate about. High Point usually has a great series of speakers throughout the year and their performances are ones that should not be missed.

Campus Chronicle
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