Summer did not hesitate to chuck the deuces this year, disappearing like a thief in the night as fall emerged almost without warning. For the most part, the transition is exciting. The crisp air and autumn leaves on the ground serve as a constant reminder that the holiday season is not too far away.
At the same time, there’s a feeling of eeriness in the air. With the COVID-19 pandemic lingering in the background, it’s difficult to know what to expect from the coming months, especially with the flu season swiftly approaching. Medical experts are weighing the possibility of a twindemic, as COVID cases in some areas have already begun to trend upward, and as a result, they are urging people to get the flu shot. Joining that choir of voices is Emmy Award-winning actress Samira Wiley who has partnered with Walgreens to spread the word. Here’s what she told us about the importance of prevention this year.
MN: Tell us about your partnership with Walgreens.
Samira: I’m super excited to be partnering with Walgreens for their flu campaign this year, which is ‘Defend your crew against the flu.’ Especially this year, with COVID, getting vaccinated against the flu is something small that we can do. All you gotta do is go to Walgreens and get that flu shot. With the healthcare system right now, thinking about the flu being around at the same time as COVID, it can really overwhelm the healthcare system. So I really think that this is a small thing that we can do to make sure that we, and all of our crew, are all good.
MN: Some people are reluctant about getting vaccinations, such as the flu shot. What would you say to them?
Samira: I’m a strong believer in science and medicine. I’m a diabetic. If I don’t get my flu shot every year, I could experience a lot of complications. Of course, I’m not the only person that needs to be getting the flu shot. It’s a community-wide thing and hopefully, a nationwide thing. We should all be getting the flu shot so that not only am I protecting myself or my immediate family but in getting that shot I may also be protecting you and your children who may have an immunodeficiency. Even with COVID, we’re looking for a vaccine for COVID and one thing that I think about that could be happening at the same time is the flu. We’re already overwhelming our healthcare system with COVID, but going to Walgreens and making sure that we get that flu shot could really, really protect us and put an ease on the healthcare system and society. Similar to washing our hands to prevent the spread of coronavirus, getting a flu shot is just another step on that same ladder.
MN: It’s been a few years, but I still can’t get over Poussey’s death on “Orange Is the New Black”
Samira: Just thinking about the way Poussey died, it’s so tragic. That was four or five years ago and it’s still so relevant to the world that we’re living in. That’s kind of sad. It’s still happening to people in our world.
MN: What was your reaction when you learned of Poussey’s demise?
Samira: When it comes to me and my journey with that show, learning about that was real shocking. I had been on this show for four years with my castmates, whom I consider my sisters, and all of a sudden, it was going to end. You know, not because of anything I did or a job that I got. It was just a decision that was made for me and without me. Ultimately, I think it was a very impactful episode of television, but it was very, very, very hard for me.
MN: In a past interview, you shared that your character on “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Moira, helped inspire your inner activist. How so?
Samira: Being able to play a bunch of different characters is wonderful for me. I feel like I am able to learn more about myself in learning about them. Moira is someone, who from the very beginning, was out front. She’s at the women’s march giving speeches. She is never one of those people who is going to be second-guessing ‘Should I be speaking up?’ In doing that day after day on set as Moira, I just started to think about the things that I care about. My relationship with social media before this role was not really in touch with the activism part. Now, I understand that I have a voice and platform. All of these things just coincided with me playing Moira, understanding who she was and in tandem with that, understand who I am.
MN: You’re very passionate about voting. What would you tell someone who on the fence about voting this year?
Samira: When I think of voting, I think of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’ I think of those women, they do not have a voice and we do have a voice. The voice that we have is our vote. We need to understand that this is our country. It’s not just something that we’re living in. The politicians are not people whom we had nothing to do with how they got in power. We have the power to put those people in those positions of authority. I just really think that one thing that we can do is to vote to exercise having a voice and having a say with what happens with our lives.
MN: I also wanted to ask about the importance of those smaller local elections.
Samira: I’m so glad you brought that up because it is something that we don’t talk about. We have this awareness every four years and we just focus on who the commander in chief is. But really, when it comes down to what happens day-to-day, a lot of that has to do with your local government. It’s important to understand who is making those choices in your own neighborhood. I wasn’t even in tune with that until recent years, but it’s so important to get involved with that. It’s easy to feel like, I don’t have a say and these things are just happening to me but just some small research can really, really change you and it can really make people feel empowered. These people work for you. Elected officials work for us, but it doesn’t always feel like that, but a way to feel like that is to participate in getting them elected into office.