Dayanara "Daya" Diaz is a main character and inmate at Litchfield Penitentiary. She is currently in Maximum Security. She is the daughter of current inmate Aleida Diaz. She served as one of the deuteragonists for the first five seasons before becoming the secondary antagonist of Season Seven. Daya is portrayed by Dascha Polanco.
Dayanara is introduced as a shy girl although she is a fierce protector of her family and is not afraid to stand for herself. She does not speak Spanish, which draws the annoyance of Gloria. This is possibly due to Aleida’s negligent parenting, as Aleida is bilingual and speaks Spanish often, as do Aleida's mother and Aledia's boyfriend Cesar. She has enjoyed drawing manga ever since she found a manga book in the trashcan at a young age. She proclaims the characters to be "more beautiful than Disney princesses". She is Puerto Rican.
Daya is shown to care deeply for her siblings - always cooking for them, disciplining them, and taking an interest in them and their activities. She attempts to reprimand Aleida for ignoring her children but is often ignored. She is eventually welcomed by the Latina inmates and they often enjoy teasing her, much to her annoyance. She initially holds an idealistic view on love, unlike her mother. In Season Two, after becoming pregnant by CO Bennett and deliberately seducing CO Mendez and accusing him of rape to explain her pregnancy, she begins to feel guilty for framing Mendez as the father of her child and constantly flips between wanting Mendez to walk away free and not wanting to get Bennett into trouble.
She has a much shorter temper during her pregnancy and is quicker to suffer impatience and irritation, which causes Bennett to compare her to her mother, much to Daya's displeasure.
When she is transferred to Max, after Aleida has been released, Daya begins to discover and nurture a much harder side to herself. After her murder of CO Humphrey and her transfer to Maximum Security, she starts getting regularly beaten by the guards. This leads to her developing an addiction to oxycontin, which she then starts bringing into the prison with Aleida's (reluctant) help.
Her addiction to oxycontin transforms Daya into a sociopathic gangster who is obsessed with power and the notoriety she gains in Max, willing to do anything for control, or a high. Daya no longer genuinely cares for her family, and only uses them to bring in more drugs into the prison for her business.
Dayanara has dark brown eyes, full lips and brown wavy hair with dyed blonde streaks. She is 5’5 and has a curvy figure.
For a list of episodes featuring Daya's flashbacks, see here.
Daya's father deserted her and her mother when she was two years old. As a child, Aleida sent Daya to a summer camp for inner-city children. Upon arrival, Daya cried for her mother to let her come back home with her and begged Aleida not to leave her. The camp lasted a month, and Aleida told Daya she intended to use that month to party and cater to her own needs, although Aleida was actually trying to make a better life for Daya by sending her to camp and found it hard to leave her. When Aleida came to pick Daya up a month later, she saw that Daya was actually having a fun and enjoyable time, and had become close with a camp worker named Stacy who had helped Daya with her art. Aleida, upset that Daya did not miss her more, threw her artwork and crafts away when they returned home and manipulated Daya into not wanting to return to the camp next year.
Daya and Aleida's strained relationship continued into Daya's teenage years ("Tied to the Tracks"). Daya had two close friends, Paolo - whom she had known since first grade - and Claire. One afternoon, Claire confessed to Daya that she had feelings for Paolo and wanted a relationship with him. Daya was not troubled by this until, a short time later, Aleida returned from the local bodega (where Paolo worked) and told Daya that Paolo had asked about her. Concluding that this meant Paolo had a crush on Daya, Aleida encouraged Daya to pursue Paolo no matter what Claire might feel for him. Daya took her mother's advice and tried to kiss Paolo at a party. Paolo strongly rebuffed Daya, saying that they had been friends forever and if something were going to happen between them it would have happened by now, and exclaiming he thought she knew he had feelings for Claire. In the aftermath of this incident, Daya seemingly lost both of her close friends - Claire being angry at her for trying to steal Paolo, and Paolo himself being too embarrassed to look at Daya - and blamed her mother for meddling in her life.
Throughout Daya's childhood, she was often left to watch over her four siblings while Aleida partied. After Aleida was sent to prison for taking the fall for Cesar's drug dealing, Daya assumed even more responsibility for her siblings. One time, they visited Aleida in prison, but Aleida took no interest in them or their lives, instead of asking if Cesar was cheating on her. She accused Daya of sleeping with him, which angered Daya. However, Daya later initiated a sexual relationship with Cesar in retaliation against her mother.
On her first day, she arrives at Litchfield along with Piper and Watson. Upon her arrival, she is slapped by her mother. Gloria Mendoza is assigned to be her mentor, but Daya is criticized by her for not being able to speak Spanish. Daya initially clashes with Maritza, who is Aleida's adopted daughter in prison. She is not fully welcomed into the group until she and Aleida agree to a truce. Daya threads her mother's eyebrows in exchange for being allowed to sit in on the games of dominoes.
Daya strikes up a romance with CO John Bennett which they must conduct in secrecy as relationships between inmates and COs are illegal. The two conduct their relationship by passing notes and drawings to each other and meet in a janitor's closet for sexual encounters. Daya discovers Bennett's prosthetic leg but assures him that his disability does not matter to her. Aleida discovers their relationship and tries to steal away Bennett as revenge for Daya's liaison with Cesar, but Bennett refuses Aleida's advances, much to Daya's relief. Daya eventually becomes pregnant and decides to keep the baby, which creates trouble for her and Bennett. If Bennett is revealed as the father, he would be imprisoned for rape as under the law, inmates are not able to give consent regardless of their willingness.
Bennett attempts to arrange for a furlough for Daya, which would give them a cover story for her pregnancy - they would explain that Daya has sex with someone outside of prison and thus Bennett would not be suspected as the father. However, Aleida points out that no one ever receives furlough and she works with Gloria and Red to a concoct another plan to explain Daya's pregnancy.
Eventually, they decide that Daya will seduce CO Mendez and collect evidence of the sex to claim Mendez raped her. This will provide a father for Daya's child and will oust Mendez and his drugs from Litchfield, which would benefit Red. Daya manages to interest Mendez by asking about his day but she fails to save the condom from their sexual encounter. Aleida, Gloria, Red, and Red's girls arrange it so Caputo walks in on Daya and Mendez having sex and their plan finally succeeds. Unfortunately, since Fig wants to avoid any more scandal, Mendez only receives a suspension.
Daya's pregnancy is still not common knowledge and she is helped by Gloria and Aleida, who compete to fill the motherly role in her life. She becomes irritated with Bennett for not taking responsibility as the father of her child. Daya also worries about the health of her child while she is in prison and Bennett attempts to appease her by smuggling her in fresh foods. She and Bennett fight off and on throughout the season and she becomes angry at Bennett when he throws Maritza in the SHU for attempting to blackmail him.
Mendez continues to send letters to Daya, which makes Bennett uncomfortable. They make up by Valentine's Day although their reunion's happiness is short-lived when Mendez returns to Litchfield. Daya begins to have second thoughts about naming Mendez as the father of her baby, claiming that she wasn't thinking straight when Red and Aleida talked her into the plan and doesn't feel comfortable sending an innocent man to prison. Eventually, she reluctantly gives a statement to Fig and Caputo that states Mendez as the father of her child. Fig harshly tells her that she has ruined a man's life for encouraging his advances, which causes Daya to feel even more guilt. "In my neighbourhood, real men stand up and claim their kids," she tells Bennett. Tired of Daya's fickleness, he asks her what she wants to do. "I don't know," she says, "but this doesn't feel good".
When Mendez is arrested, he asks Daya to wait for him and proclaims his love for her. Daya tells Bennett that even though Mendez is a horrible person, at least he is not ashamed of her, which prompts Bennett to confess the truth to Caputo.
Daya also joins the staff of Piper's Prison Newsletter, "The Big House Bugle", as a cartoonist. She makes comics about the Litchfield staff, where she portrays them as animals, which many of the inmates and staff find funny.
In Season Three, Daya's pregnancy is now common knowledge and accepted. Everyone, aside from the other Latinas, thinks the baby belongs to Mendez. Bennett, who proposes to Daya, immediately disappears after visiting Cesar. This causes a lot of distress for Daya, causing her to consider her options after Mendez's mother, Delia, offers to adopt the baby to keep the baby from turning out like Mendez. Delia comes and visits Dayanara to discuss the adoption. Daya informs her that Mendez is not the father after hearing that her own mother was trying to arrange monthly payments in exchange for the baby. Despite this, Delia is still interested in adopting the baby, wanting to raise a good, successful child to make up for how Mendez turned out. After Daya gives birth, Aleida lies to Delia, informing her that the baby was a boy and was stillborn, although the baby is alive and in fact a girl. She is sent to live with Aleida's partner Cesar. Shortly after, Cesar is arrested after a drug bust at his apartment. Daya's daughter is taken into Child Protective Services along with the other children in his care. At the end of Season Three, it is unknown what will happen to Daya's daughter, since Daya has approximately around 35 months left on her sentence, meaning her daughter will be nearly three years old when she is released from Litchfield.
After years of fighting and hatred, Aleida and Daya finally hug and share a meaningful moment of reconciliation on the beach of the lake ("Trust No Bitch").
As of the end of Season Four, Daya's baby is still in foster care and Daya is still in prison. When Aleida is released early from prison, she promises to get her life together and get her and Daya's baby back from CPS, though Daya is doubtful that Aleida can actually achieve this. After Aleida is released, Gloria steps up to be Daya's mother figure in prison. Gloria attempts to keep Daya from associating with Maria Ruiz's group, sensing that only trouble will come of it, but Daya ignores her, saying that she wants to hang out with people her own age, not people that only tell her what to do. After inheriting her mother's old nail kit, Daya begins to paint nail designs in Sophia's old salon, which Maria's group has now taken over.
At the end of Season Four, a prison-wide riot breaks out following the news of Caputo's decision regarding Poussey's death. When Humphrey draws his gun, Maritza pushes him, causing him to drop it, and Daya picks it up. She first points it toward the white supremacist girls before turning it on the guards. She has Humphrey kneel and, cheered on by her fellow inmates of all races, points it at his forehead. The season ends on a cliffhanger, with the end result of the standoff not shown.
Gun in hand, Daya hesitates before shooting Humphrey and is visibly agitated at all of the yelling and chaos around her. Frustrated, she shoots first at the ceiling. Humphrey, in an attempt to garner Daya's sympathy, starts to speak to her in Spanish. This angers Daya even further (as she doesn't understand Spanish), and she shoots Humphrey in the leg. From that moment forward, Daya finds herself the unwitting leader of a full-blown riot, although it is actually Maria calling most of the shots. Maria offers Daya multiple chances to hand her the gun - and therefore abdicate the leadership of the riot - but Daya refuses. Mere hours into the riot, however, Daya is knocked out and the gun is stolen, but she does not know by whom.
Propped up by the more zealous inmates, Daya continues by simply pretending she still has the gun, which she achieves by making a gun shape with her hand in her hoodie pocket. But, after Gloria is "pantsed" by Leanne and Angie as a prank and the gun falls out of her waistband, Daya realizes it was Gloria that stole it all along. Angry and resentful at Gloria for trying to mother her, and wanting to escape the chaos indoors, Daya moves outside in the yard with Piper and Alex and a number of other inmates who are distancing themselves from the riot.
While in the yard, Daya tries to help beautify the prison with a mural on the garden shed, depicting a cartoon-ish CO Bennett. However, this respite from her role in starting the riot doesn't last long. After a TV interview with Judy King and Aleida, the media is alerted to the fact that a guard was shot by an inmate, leading to an impasse in the negotiations to end the standoff. Taystee, negotiating on behalf of the inmates, insists on amnesty for the rioters, but Natalie Figueroa, negotiating on behalf of MCC, refuses as long as the shooter remains at large. Confronted by Gloria and Aleida, Daya initially cannot come to grips with her own culpability in the shooting, but eventually realizes she has no choice but to own up to her actions.
Daya makes a final phone call to Delia Powell and confesses that Aleida lied about her baby being stillborn. Daya tells Delia the truth: that her daughter Armaria Diaz is alive and in foster care, and she wants Delia to adopt her and give her a normal life. Delia is taken aback but agrees. Before hanging up, Daya urges Delia to pronounce Armaria's name correctly and to give her space (that Daya never felt she herself had labuguen) to live her own life. After arranging for her daughter's future, Daya turns herself in - enabling negotiations for everyone else's amnesty to go ahead.
Daya's fate at the end of Season 5 is unclear, but it is heavily implied that she is sent to Max with an extended sentence after shooting Humphrey.
Dayanara is first seen in her maximum security cell in Administrative Segregation. She is a part of Suzanne's hallucinations due to lack of medication and is performing an interpretive dance with two guards. In reality, Dayanara is being beaten up by the maximum security guards, not for the first time, because of her role in killing Humphrey. Piper is in the adjacent cell and asks how she is feeling to which Daya replies that the guards might have broken her ribs this time. While in the Rec yard (locked in a cage), she is offered OxyContin from Daddy to help with the pain. Daya resists until the pain becomes too bad to bear. However, pain relief quickly changes to drug abuse and she begins snorting the pills to get high.
While the special agents are trying to frame the riots on the Litchfield inmates, Daya reveals that she took a plea for shooting Humphrey to avoid the possibility of a death penalty and is getting a life sentence.
Daya, from fear of being completely alone, begins a sexual relationship with Daddy, and, when the drug supply dries up, She makes a deal with Blanca to exchange drugs for receiving the condom for Blanca. They swap the items in Rec class but are witnessed by Charlene Teng and Marie Brock who follows Daya out and steal back the drugs while hitting her a bit. Daddy is upset and scared but Daya managed to save some pills. ("Gordons")
Later, she even concocts a new pipeline where she helps import drugs into the prison with her mother and CO Hopper, who is Aleida's new boyfriend.
Gloria is taken into C-Block and is bombarded by Daddy and Annalisa. Daya runs over and hugs her, telling Daddy that it is Gloria, who apparently she has been told a lot about. She makes Adeola and some friends move and Gloria notices she is high and worries for her with the new-found power.
Aleida visits Daya, and is confused as to why she is so sloppy, originally thinking she's tired. She realises that Daya is high and Daya faints, with Young asking if she's okay. Aleida just tells Daya to go get sleep and is left speechless. Daya later goes outside for kickball and throws a rock at a crow, almost killing it. Maria gets angry at her for this, as Daya is shocked. After Zirconia tells Maria that Piper got out, Daya says that's good for her. Daddy scolds her and she reminds everyone that Piper is the reason they're out there playing kickball. She later abandons the plan too, and plays kickball, being quite serious about it. Daya and Tiffany cheer when Adeola is knocked out.
By the close of Season Six, Daya has embraced a new "thug life" persona; as Daddy's partner, she wields a lot of influence and isn't afraid to use it. Hardfaced and manipulative, the Daya who entered prison at the beginning of Season One has all but completely disappeared.
Daya accidentally murders her girlfriend Daddy after spiking her drink when finding out she was cheating. However, she uses this to her advantage, insinuating to other inmates that is was intentional to spark fear and make them follow her.
Daya becomes a drug dealer and an addict. She enjoys being in charge and enlists her siblings for help getting drugs into the prison. Her behavior towards her siblings is in stark contrast to the way she treated them at the beginning of the series. She no longer cares about their true wellbeing.
In the final episode Daya reveals to Aleida that she is now working with her siblings. When her mother asks her why she changed so much, she implies that it’s because she knows how it feels to kill someone. Aleida tells her that selling drugs is something you do so your children don’t have to but Daya doesn’t listen or seem to care.
Aleida then karate chops her in the windpipe and begins to strangle her. It can be presumed that Aleida plans to kill her so she won’t corrupt her other children. Whether or not Aleida is successful in killing Daya is never shown, although actress Dascha Polanco opined that she does not.
- Aleida Diaz (mother)
- Eva Diaz (sister)
- Christina Diaz (sister)
- Lucy Diaz (sister)
- Emiliano Diaz (brother)
- Armaria (daughter)
- Jazmina (the first cousin once removed)
- Mama Lourdes (grandmother; mentioned)
- Cesar Velazquez (mother's partner; paternal figure)
- Unnamed Father (Estranged Father)
- John Bennett (ex-fiancé and father of their daughter Armaria)
- George Mendez (fake affair to frame Mendez as the father of her child; gets arrested for rape)
- Cesar Velazquez (her mother's partner; slept with Daya at least once in flashback)
- Domiga "Daddy" Duarte (inmate from max; deceased)
- Gloria Mendoza (mother-figure after Aleida leaves prison) - Gloria cares for her during her pregnancy, being much more motherly and caring than her actual mother. After Aleida has been released, she drifts away from Gloria, eventually falling in with Maria's gang. During the riot, Daya is angry towards Gloria for knocking her out and stealing her gun shortly after the shooting of Humprey. In Max, Gloria severes her connection to Daya after her failure to stop her from falling in with gangs, and eventually drug addiction.
- Maritza Ramos
- Marisol Gonzales
- Blanca Flores
- Tasha Jefferson
- Maria Ruiz
- Ramona Pidge
- Lorna Morello
- Annalisa Damiva
- Barbara Denning
- Thomas Humphrey (Daya shoots Humphrey after his systematic abuse of inmates)
- Tamika Ward
- C-Block inmates in general
- Teenage Dayanara in the Season Five flashbacks is portrayed by actress Dascha Polanco's real daughter.
- She is one of the several characters who appeared in all episodes of the season they weren't credited as a regular.
- She would be considered bisexual, as demonstrated by her sexual relationship with Daddy, but nothing has been confirmed yet. She states in Chocolate Chip Nookie to Gloria that she is "gay for the stay."
- Dayanara is one of many inmates that serves as one of the main antagonists of a season.
- Dascha Polanco, the actress who plays Dayanara Diaz, revealed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that Daya did not die at the end of season 7. "They made it very clear to me that I don’t die," she tells THR. "I thought that she did. But the writers told me, 'She doesn’t die, but she gets knocked out really good.' And I realized it was going to be left as that question."
- Daya was one of allegedly four characters that were considered to be killed off in season 4; the showrunners ultimately decided on the character of Poussey. Daya's death, were it to have been written into the season's story arc, was to symbolize the shortcomings of Aleida as a mother.
- "Fuck diamonds, I got spinach!"
- — Dayanara Diaz, Hugs Can Be Deceiving
- "'Cause thinking about shit fucks you up."
- — Dayanara Diaz,How To Do Life
- "She wasn't gonna say nothing. You think she's trying to get my baby daddy locked up so he can't provide?"
- — to Bennett in Comic Sans
- "Fucking C.O's, y'all pieces of shit."
- — Dayanara Diaz, pointing a gun at Thomas Humphrey in Toast Can't Never Be Bread Again
- "I didn’t think it through."
- — Dayanara Diaz, Gordons
- "I don’t fucking speak Spanish."
- — Dayanara Diaz, Riot FOMO
"I Wasn't Ready"
|Orange Is the New Black: Season One|
|"I Wasn't Ready":||"Tit Punch":||"Lesbian Request Denied":||"Imaginary Enemies":||"The Chickening":||"WAC Pack":||"Blood Donut":|
|"Moscow Mule":||"Fucksgiving":||"Bora Bora Bora":||"Tall Men with Feelings":||"Fool Me Once":||"Can't Fix Crazy":|
|Orange Is the New Black: Season Two|
|"Thirsty Bird":||"Looks Blue, Tastes Red":||"Hugs Can Be Deceiving":||"A Whole Other Hole":||"Low Self Esteem City":||"You Also Have a Pizza":||"Comic Sans":|
|"Appropriately Sized Pots":||"40 Oz. of Furlough":||"Little Mustachioed Shit":||"Take a Break From Your Values":||"It Was the Change":||"We Have Manners. We're Polite.":|
|Orange Is the New Black: Season Three|
|"Mother's Day":||"Bed Bugs and Beyond":||"Empathy Is a Boner Killer":||"Finger in the Dyke":||"Fake It Till You Fake It Some More":||"Ching Chong Chang":||"Tongue-Tied":|
|"Fear, and Other Smells":||"Where My Dreidel At":||"A Tittin' and a Hairin'":||"We Can Be Heroes":||"Don't Make Me Come Back There":||"Trust No Bitch":|
|Orange Is the New Black: Season Four|
|"Work That Body for Me":||"Power Suit":||"(Don't) Say Anything":||"Doctor Psycho":||"We'll Always Have Baltimore":||"Piece of Shit":||"It Sounded Nicer in My Head":|
|Appears||Appears||Credit Only||Appears||Credit Only||Appears||Appears|
|"Friends in Low Places":||"Turn Table Turn":||"Bunny, Skull, Bunny, Skull":||"People Persons":||"The Animals":||"Toast Can't Never Be Bread Again":|
|Orange Is the New Black: Season Five|
|"Riot FOMO":||"Fuck, Marry, Frieda":||"Pissters!":||"Litchfield's Got Talent":||"Sing It, White Effie":||"Flaming Hot Cheetos, Literally":||"Full Bush, Half Snickers":|
|"Tied to the Tracks":||"The Tightening":||"The Reverse Midas Touch":||"Breaking the Fiberboard Ceiling":||"Tattoo You":||"Storm-y Weather":|
|Appears||Appears||Credit Only||Credit Only||Credit Only||Credit Only|
|Orange Is the New Black: Season Six|
|"Who Knows Better Than I":||"Shitstorm Coming":||"Look Out for Number One":||"I'm the Talking Ass":||"Mischief Mischief":||"State of the Uterus":||"Changing Winds":|
|"Gordons":||"Break the String":||"Chocolate Chip Nookie":||"Well This Took a Dark Turn":||"Double Trouble":||"Be Free":|
|Orange Is the New Black: Season Seven|
|"Beginning of the End":||"Just Desserts":||"And Brown Is the New Orange":||"How to Do Life":||"Minority Deport":||"Trapped in an Elevator":||"Me as Well":|
|"Baker's Dozen":||"The Hidey Hole":||"The Thirteenth":||"God Bless America":||"The Big House":||"Here's Where We Get Off":|