Having first premiered on the streaming platform in 2013, the critically acclaimed series, which has often been credited for laying the groundwork for Netflix originals, is set to conclude with its final batch of episodes in late July.
"After seven years, I think this is a family," Polanco, who portrays inmate Dayanara "Daya" Diaz, told Us Weekly about OITNB's approaching conclusion. "It's bittersweet."
Polanco, whose character had ended Season 6 at Litchfield Max facing life in prison following the death of CO Thomas Humphrey, went on to describe the mood on set during the final days of filming.
"Crying, laughing and just a moment of, like, self-realization that you realize time flies and we have to live more in the moment," she recalled. "There was a lot of food. Eating away your feelings."
Production on the series officially wrapped back in February, with series creator Jenji Kohan taking to Instagram to mark the bittersweet occasion.
"That's all she wrote... [OITNB] [Bye]," she captioned a photo of Danielle Brooks, aka Taystee, holding a sign that reads "That's a wrap."
Although at the time Netflix had not announced an official premiere date for Season 7, it was revealed in May that the final set of episodes was set for a Friday, July 26 premiere, with the final season tackling Piper's life out of prison as well as the issues still plaguing those remaining behind bars.
"Piper (Taylor Schilling) struggles with life on the outside, while life in Max, as corrupt and unjust as ever, goes on without her," an official synopsis reads. "Taystee's (Danielle Brooks) friendship with Cindy (Adrienne C. Moore) still hangs in the balance as her life sentence looms, Gloria (Selenis Leyva) and her kitchen staff are confronted by the hard truth of Polycon's newest profit stream, while others chase drugs or dreams and grapple with the reality of their place in this world."
As for what Polanco plans to do now that her time on OITNB has come to an end, she said that she's "been auditioning. I'm out there and it's the hustle."
"That's the hustle of this game. You just never know what's next!" she said. "There's moments of 'OK, now my career's in the next step,' and then there's moments of like, 'Oh my God!'"
Orange Is the New Black Season 7 premieres on Netflix on Friday, July 26. Seasons 1-6 are currently available for streaming.