Samira Wiley is an American actress and model best known for playing Poussey Washington in the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black.
Let’s find out more interesting facts about her!
1. Samira Denise Wiley was born April 15, 1987, in Washington, D.C.
2. She is a graduate of Burgundy Farm Country Day School and Duke Ellington School of the Arts.
3. Her parents, Christine and Dennis W. Wiley, are the co-pastors of Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ.
4. Wiley’s parents have been referred to as “pillars of the LGBT religious community,” as the Covenant Baptist Church was the only Baptist church in Washington D.C. performing same-sex unions in 2007.
5. She has two siblings: Aiyana Maat and Joshua Wiley.
6. Wiley studied drama at the Juilliard School in New York, and graduated in 2010.
7. She trained in theater performance and worked mainly in theater in her early career.
8. In 2011, she played Maria in a production of Love’s Labour’s Lost by The Public Theater.
9. When the Netflix television series Orange Is the New Black, based on Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name about her experiences of being incarcerated in a women’s prison, came into development, Wiley was told about the auditions by a friend from Juilliard, Marco Ramirez, who was a writer for the show.
10. After discovering that another Juilliard friend,Danielle Brooks, had won a role in the show, Wiley asked Brooks to rehearse lines with her to prepare for her audition for the role of Poussey Washington, the on-screen best friend of Brooks’ character.
11. Wiley’s audition was ultimately successful, she appeared in all twelve episodes of the series’ first season and was featured prominently throughout the second season.
12. The darker and more violent plot of the second season allowed for the growth of Wiley’s character, whose evolved story lines lead to Wiley’s prolonged screen exposure and ultimate development as a “fan-favorite.”
13. She was promoted to series regular for the third season.
14. The fourth season revolves heavily around her character.
15. Wiley’s fiancée, Lauren Morelli, is a writer on the show.
16. Morelli wrote the 12th episode of Season 4, which featured Wiley’s character.
17. Wiley’s first major acting role was in the comedy film The Sitter (2011).
18. In between seasons of Orange Is the New Black, Wiley filmed Rob the Mob, an independent crime film directed by Raymond De Felitta and released in March 2014.
19. Wiley has modeled for Maniac Magazine, appearing on the cover and in an editorial of the 2014 September/October issue. She was pictured modeling “a series of bold, chic, high fashion looks.”
20. She was also featured on the cover of 2014 edition of OUT Magazine along with Sam Smith, Ellen Page, and Zachary Quinto.
21. In 2014, Wiley was named OUT100 Magazine’s Ingenue of the Year.
22. In February 2015, she was awarded the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award.
23. According to the Human Rights Campaign’s website, Wiley was always accepted and embraced by her parents, regardless of her sexuality, and to this she attributes her success.
24. Samira Wiley won the 2015 Screen Actor’s Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, along with numerous members of the cast of Netflix’s Original Series Orange Is The New Black.
25. She is openly lesbian.
26. Wiley made public her engagement to her partner, and “Orange is the New Black” writer, Lauren Morelli on October 4, 2016.
27. Samira Wiley and Danielle Brooks, who play Taystee and Poussey, are real life best friends who attended Julliard together.
28. She was still working in a bar during the first season of Orange Is The New Black and only left her job after customers started to recognise her and her friends urged her to quit.
29. Lauren Morelli, Samira’s partner, realised she was gay whilst writing for Orange. Lauren wrote in an open letter: “In Piper and Alex, I’d found a mouthpiece for my own desires and a glimmer of what my future could look like.”
30. She has an incredible singing voice, which can be heard when she sings “Amazing Grace” in the season one finale of Orange.
31. She’s a binge watcher, telling Essence that she watched a season of House of Cards in less than a week.
32. Samira says she was more worried about speaking German correctly than getting naked on Orange.
33. Her idol is Regina King. Regina tweeted Samira about a reference to her from the show, and Samira got all cute and star struck.