My TV character is my role model: ‘Orange Is the New Black’ star

Orange Is The New Black S4
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By Ankit Sinha

New Delhi–With a bevy of shows focussing on hard-hitting content, ranging from drama to fantasy to high-octane action, there seems little doubt that international television is enjoying a “golden age” in the present era. Actress Samira Wiley, who essays Poussey Washington on prison drama series “Orange Is the New Black”, agrees and says she is “happy” to be working on the small screen at this stage.

Samira Wiley Orange is the New Black
Samira Wiley
Orange is the New Black

Wiley’s character is one of the most beloved on the award-winning Netflix TV series, which is set to enter its fourth season on Friday. She says there are many “amazing” writers who pen scintillating scripts for shows.

“I tend to agree that quality on television is really high,” Wiley told IANS in an interview over phone from Los Angeles.

“It starts with the writer’s room. You have a lot of amazing talent among people who write for television. Especially talking about ‘Orange Is the New Black’, when we started a few years ago, a vast majority of us were just new talent. The team of writers cast a bunch of newcomers… But I am happy to be working in television at this stage,” added the 29-year-old actress.

Based on the best-selling memoir “Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison” by Piper Kerman and created by Jenji Kohan, the Emmy-award winning TV series is set in a fictional prison in Litchfield, New York, where Wiley’s character is one of the inmates.

Wiley’s character gets a lot of praise for her flamboyance and it is even easy to find a lot of women fans showering praise on her on YouTube videos and across social media.

How does she handle stardom and the fact that her character Poussey and her, as Wiley, are separate identities?

“I always tell people, as an actor, the one on the screen is me. At the end of the day, Poussey is an individual identity. It is just a character I play on television. Honestly in my own life, when I think about how I want to be a better person, Poussey is my own role model,” Wiley asserted.

“It is so amazing to be able to be an actor and embody a character which people really love, and feel it is real. It is an honour to be able to bring something to life along with the cast of ‘Orange Is the New Black’,” she added.

As an African-American actress, Wiley feels “lucky” to have been cast in a show as racially diverse as “Orange Is the New Black”, and says she is yet to deal with issues related to racial discrimination — a debate that erupted at last year’s Oscars.

“I feel naive about that because my first job is ‘Orange Is The New Black’, which is one of the most diverse shows on TV. I am very lucky to land this show. It is not anything that I have to deal with right now in my career.

“Everyone nominated and winning awards on our show are people of colour. I know something needs to be done, but I am not the best person to answer this question because my world is very diverse,” she added.

Wiley is a lesbian and is in a relationship with “Orange” writer Lauren Morelli. Does she feel that as a popular figure in showbiz, she can spread awareness about the LGBT community?

“I try to take my platform where I am very seriously, and understand that everything that I say can be printed somewhere. I just want to make sure I am responsible, put my words and know — even if I may not be the authority on a subject — that people are listening to what I and other actors are saying,” she noted.

As for the fourth season of her show, she says it’s “dangerous, thought provoking and sexy”.

“I feel it will be our best season yet… It is just good television. I am excited for pushing the boundaries.” (IANS)


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