Lea DeLaria Says She Couldn't Afford to Go to the Doctor Before Landing Her 'OITNB' Role

The comedian, actor, and jazz musician talks to SELF about living with type 2 diabetes.
See the video.

Comedian, actor, and jazz musician Lea DeLaria is widely known for her role on the hit Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. DeLaria's character, "Big Boo," is a spitfire who's as frank as she is compassionate. And in a recent interview with SELF, DeLaria reveals herself to be much the same way.

Though the video is less than five minutes long, DeLaria manages to touch on a variety of topics—her unexpected 60-pound weight loss and subsequent decision to get plastic surgery, her affinity for tattoos, and the fact that she's experiencing a hot flash as the interview is being filmed. Much of the focus of the video, though, has to do with DeLaria's experience with type 2 diabetes.

DeLaria explains that she spent about a decade of her life avoiding the doctor—not because she was afraid of it, but because she couldn't afford it. She was juggling a few jobs at the time, and she didn't have health insurance. "For a period of about a decade, I didn't really go to the doctor," DeLaria says in the video. "If I was sick or didn't feel well—I couldn't afford it."

After finally being able to get insurance because of her recurring role on OITNB, DeLaria was able to go in for a physical. It was there that she learned that she had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes—a chronic condition that impacts the way the body metabolizes sugar. DeLaria says that because she hadn't known about or treated her condition until that point, she was essentially "knocking on death's door" when she finally made it to the doctor.

Thankfully, that's no longer the case. "I always have to watch [my diabetes]. I have to be there for it. I have to take my medication. I have to eat right," she says. "Now, I can just have a piece of cake every now and then if I feel like it."

Watch Lea DeLaria's video interview in full above.