Award-winning 'Orange is the New Black' has a local connection

A Fairfield County native with a connection to Aquarion Water Co. was part of a TV show cast that recently won a coveted Screen Actors Guild Award.

Germar Terrell Gardner plays corrections officer Charles Ford in the hit Netflix series “Orange is the New Black.” Cast members won in the Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series at the SAG Awards, televised nationally from Los Angeles on Jan. 25.

Gardner once worked part time for Aquarion Water Co. — where his mother was, and still is, employed.

He joined the cast of “Orange is the New Black” last year in what was supposed to be a single appearance. But the producers liked what they saw, and brought him on as a recurring character.

Creative writing class

Born and raised in Bridgeport, Gardner was introduced to the arts early by his father, who recited poems from Langston Hughes and the writings of W.E.B. DuBois to his children.

At first Gardner thought football would be his ticket to stardom. But then a high school class in creative writing changed his mind.

Gardner went on to graduate from college with a double major in print journalism and television production. After his part-time job at Aquarion, he took a position with WTNH News Channel 8 in New Haven, the ABC affiliate in Connecticut.

An audition notice

In 2011, while taking acting classes and honing his craft with the Alan Gordon Acting Studio in New York City, Gardner stumbled upon an audition notice.

It led to him being named to his first starting role, playing in an Off-Broadway production of August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “The Piano Lesson.”

In 2014 came the invitation to join the cast of “Orange is the New Black.” In December, he and the rest of the ensemble learned they’d been nominated for a 2014 Screen Actors Guild Award.

Gardner is now busy shooting the show’s third season, due for release on Netflix this summer.

About Aquarion Water Co.

Aquarion is the public water company for much of Shelton and many other Connecticut municipalities. It is a large property owner in the region, where it operates a reservoir system.

In Shelton, Aquarion — which includes the former Bridgeport Hydraulic Co. — owns and operates the Trap Falls Reservoir, Means Brook Reservoir and considerable watershed land.