Author of 'Orange is the New Black' advocates for mental health

Piper Kerman attends event in Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. – The author behind the hit TV series "Orange is the New Black" is advocating for women and girls in Central Florida.

Most people have heard of Piper Chapman, the strong female lead of the hit Netflix series. The show premiered in 2013 with a female-dominated cast focused on the social imbalances, relationships and violence within the federal prison system. Chapman's story is an adaptation of the real-life imprisonment of Piper Kerman, author of the memoir by the same name.

What fans of the show may not realize is Kerman's family has deep roots in Florida.

"My grandfather was raised in West Palm Beach, my father lives in Volusia County. I am always thrilled to come on down here," Kerman said as she attended a convention in Orlando.

Her recent visit to Central Florida was to support the PACE Center for Girls, a nonprofit serving more than 3,000 women in 21 centers across the state of Florida.

"I think people in Florida need to know that it's rare to have a statewide organization like the PACE Center that does this kind of work with at-risk girls," Kerman said.

Kerman's keynote speech at the annual gathering addressed several of the risk factors for women to have contact with the criminal justice system, including struggles with mental health.

"If someone has mental health challenges, if someone is a survivor of trauma we want to make sure that they get the help, frankly, when they're kids," Kerman said.

The release date for the seventh and final season of the series has not been released. Many of the popular actresses were shown in a video posted to Instagram to announce the final 2019 season.

Kerman had a message for fans:

"Anyone who loves the characters on those Netflix shows and on 'Orange is the New Black,' needs to know that there are stories just like that taking place in their community, and people can get involved and get better outcomes," Kerman said.

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