Dascha Polanco

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Dascha Polanco
Dascha Polanco (47948022553) (cropped).jpg
Polanco in 2019
Dascha Yolaine Polanco

(1982-12-03) December 3, 1982 (age 38)
Alma materHunter College
Years active2011–present

Dascha Yolaine Polanco (born December 3, 1982)[1][2] is a Dominican actress. She is known for portraying the role of Dayanara "Daya" Diaz on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black.[3]

Early life[edit]

Polanco identifies as Afro-Dominican. She was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic,[4][5] and moved to the United States at a young age.[6] She was raised in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and Miami by her father, a mechanic, and mother, a cosmetologist.[7][8] Polanco is the oldest of three children; she has a brother and sister.[9]


Polanco aspired to be an actress from an early age but "always doubted auditioning because of [her] weight", so she completed a bachelor's degree in psychology at Hunter College.[8] After college she began working in the healthcare industry with the intention of becoming a nurse.[10][11] She was working in hospital administration at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx while studying nursing when she gained the courage to pursue acting again and registered herself with an acting studio.[8][11] She attended BIH Studios in New York, and while there was signed by the talent agency Shirley Grant Management.[12] Her first acting credits were minor parts in the television series Unforgettable and NYC 22.[13]

In 2012, Polanco was cast in the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black as Dayanara "Daya" Diaz, an inmate in a women's prison.[14]

In 2013, Polanco appeared in the independent film Gimme Shelter before returning to her role on Orange Is the New Black for the show's second season.[8] In June 2014, it was announced that she had been promoted from a recurring role to a series regular for the show's third season, which was released in June 2015.[15] She appeared in the comedy films The Cobbler and Joy,[6] and starred in the film The Perfect Match.

In 2018, Polanco had a recurring role in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, and in 2019, she had a recurring role in Netflix series, Russian Doll and When They See Us.

Personal life[edit]

Polanco has two children, a daughter and a son.[9][16] Her daughter portrayed a younger version of Polanco's character in the fifth season of Orange is the New Black.[17]



Year Title Role Notes
2013 Gimme Shelter Carmel
2014 The Cobbler Macy
2015 Joy Jackie
2016 The Perfect Match Sheila "Pressy" Wells
2018 MFKZ Luna (voice) English dub
2019 The Irishman Nurse
2021 Samaritan Post-production
In the Heights Cuca Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
2011 Unforgettable Estella Episode: "Trajectories"
2012 NYC 22 Fan #2 Episode: "Firebomb"
2013–2019 Orange Is the New Black Dayanara "Daya" Diaz 81 episodes
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2014, 2015)
2018 The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story Det. Lori Wieder 3 episodes
2019 Russian Doll Beatrice 4 episodes
2019 When They See Us Elena Episode: "Part Three"
2019 Evil Patti Hitchens Episode: "3 Stars"


  1. ^ Polanco, Dascha (December 3, 2015). "I'm just grateful for another year of life. May I be blessed with health and staying true to who I am. #ismellgood #itsmybirthday". Instagram. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  2. ^ Rosenberg, Rebecca (December 3, 2015). "'Orange Is the New Black' star busted for allegedly punching teen girl". Page Six. News Corp. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  3. ^ "'Orange Is the New Black's' Latinas – The Hollywood Reporter". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. November 22, 2013. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  4. ^ "Dascha Polanco. Talento dominicano en Hollywood".
  5. ^ "Dascha Polanco". Ecartelera.
  6. ^ a b Rothaus, Steve (May 2014). "'Orange Is the New Black' co-star Dascha Polanco to be guest Friday at Aqua Girl VIP, dance events". Miami Herald. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
  7. ^ Santos, Orlando (August 18, 2013). "Cinco dominicanas en la serie del momento: Orange Is The New Black". Diario Libre (in Spanish). Retrieved June 13, 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d Ortiz, Erik (September 11, 2013). "Dascha Polanco returns to 'Orange Is the New Black' for second season". New York Daily News. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
  9. ^ a b Trivino, Jesus (July 21, 2017). "Dascha Polanco is Latina Magazine's June/July 2015 Cover Star!". Latina Magazine. Retrieved April 28, 2015.
  10. ^ Terrero, Nina (August 15, 2013). "Dominican actress Dascha Polanco talks Netflix series "Orange is the New Black"". NBC Latino. NBC. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
  11. ^ a b Smouse, Deborah (July 11, 2013). "Meet Actress Dascha Polanco". All Things Girl. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
  12. ^ "Exclusive Interview: OITNB's Dascha Polanco (Daya Diaz)". OITNB.com. Netflix. March 23, 2014. Archived from the original on November 9, 2016. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
  13. ^ Greco, Patti (August 3, 2013). "OITNB's Dascha Polanco on Daya and Bennett, Doodling Penises, and Her Johnny Depp Crush". New York. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
  14. ^ Rapp, Ilana (July 15, 2014). "Actress Dascha Polanco Tells Us About Life Before and After Netflix's Orange Is the New Black". Huffington Post. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
  15. ^ Thomas, Kaitlin (June 12, 2014). "Orange Is the New Black Promotes Dascha Polanco to Series Regular". TV Guide. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
  16. ^ Greco, Patti (July 21, 2017). ""Orange Is the New Black" Star Dascha Polanco Wishes She Could Tell Off Haters". Cosmopolitan Magazine. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  17. ^ Thompson, Eliza (July 21, 2017). "Young Daya Looks So Much Like Dascha Polanco Because She's Dascha Polanco's Daughter". Cosmopolitan Magazine. Retrieved June 21, 2017.

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