Orange Is The New Black (OITNB) fans were devastated when they learned the character “Poussey” played by Samira Wiley wouldn’t be returning behind the bars of Litchfield prison. Luckily, if you’re a fan of Hulu’s A Handmaid’s Tale you now that Wiley is back to playing the endearing, ride-or-die accomplice that she’s known for, once again among a cast of women facing some dire circumstances.
Wiley recently shared with Bustle how she feels about her character “Moira” which the site describes as a “fierce, seemingly unbreakable woman trapped in a dystopian future” and how much her parents helped prepare her for the role:
“With the roles that I have played on Orange is the New Black, and now on Handmaid’s Tale, they’re these strong women, especially Moira. [She] has a very strong sense of self, which is something that I have because of my parents.”
“They’re just people of integrity, and I think that that spills over into my creative process, just wanting to be someone who has some artistic integrity. I think I get that from them.”
The second season of the show will air on April 25 and Wiley shares that it was hard for her to get through scripts from season one because the character’s behavior was such a departure from her own:
“I struggled as Samira with the script because I just couldn’t justify how [Moira] would leave her, you know what I mean? She’s her best friend, she’s like ride or die, all this stuff. I just couldn’t understand.”
She shares that castmate Elisabeth Moss helped her make sense of the character’s actions:
“She was basically like, I feel like that’s actually the ultimate act of love, because you staying here is only going to get both of us almost killed, and you leaving is giving us hope that maybe you can do something else and bring it back to us.”
“I ultimately figured out that it was out of love.”
Love is an emotion that Samira has no issue tapping into. The 31-year-old married writer Lauren Morelli last March in Palm Springs, California. The pair met when Morelli was employed as a writer for OITNB. Morelli has expressed that she identified as heterosexual at the time and was married for two years to her husband. A year after working on the show she had fallen in love with Wiley, eventually divorced and her husband and the pair have lived happily ever after ever since.
When it comes to life at home with the couple, Wiley admits she wears the domestic crown:
“I am a full-on housewife. Straight up.”
You probably won’t find her in the kitchen, but Washington D.C. native shares she takes pleasure is feeding the couples’ dogs and stocking the fridge. Wiley says the idea of domesticity stabilizes her in a career that often takes her from Los Angeles, where the couple resides, to Rhode Island where she is working on another project, to Toronto where A Handmaid’s Tale is filmed. She says living In NYC at one time she had a sense of community, but since then things have changed:
“I had a real community when I lived in New York, and a lot of them are starting to move here now to L.A., but it doesn’t feel the same yet.”
“It’s hard to make friends as an adult.”
Wiley who can often be found rocking a radiant smile and can appear to have it all figured out admits that what makes what she has with Morelli so unique, is that her wife has taught her to be comfortable with herself:
“My wife is actually somebody who helped me be comfortable with who I am and I just thank God so much that she did because it’s so freeing to be comfortable with myself.”
Wiley’s parents, Drs. Dennis and Christine Wiley, were co-pastors of a progressive Baptist church that was one of the first in Washington, D.C. to marry LGBTQ couples. She shares the journey to live her life out as a black, lesbian woman has been one of steady progress:
“This journey of me being comfortable with my own sexuality paired with being in the public eye has been a really interesting and trying [one] for me.”
“It started out with me not embracing who I was before all this fame stuff happened, and being afraid that Hollywood was going to typecast me if people knew that I was gay.”
Like The Chi creator Lena Waithe has expressed in many statements, Wiley feels it’s important that young, queer people of color see themselves represented on TV and film:
“When I was little, I didn’t know I was gay, but I knew I wanted to be an actor, and Angela Bassett was the person I looked up to because she was the one I could see doing it.”
“I want to be able to be that person that people can look up to and say, ‘She’s doing it, I can do it, too.’”
You can read more about Wiley and her upcoming role in the crime thriller Vault in the exclusive Bustle interview here.