Samira Wiley On The Real-Life Inspiration Behind Poussey's Big 'Orange Is The New Black' Moment

"This happens in real life, and people are so upset."
Samira Wiley as Poussey Washington on "Orange is the New Black."
Samira Wiley as Poussey Washington on "Orange is the New Black."

WARNING: This post contains lots of spoilers for "Orange Is the New Black" Season 4. 

After a somewhat slow-burning first half, Season 4 of "Orange Is the New Black" took a dark turn and things got intense.

Fueled in large part by power-tripping prison guards, the season involved plenty of fighting, blood, misogyny, racism and "Fear Factor" -style torture. But the most shocking twist in Season 4 was the death of Poussey Washington, played brilliantly by Samira Wiley. 

In an interview with Variety, the actress opened up about her devastating plotline -- which she kept secret for an entire year -- and called fans' reactions "sort of shocking." 

"People come out in waves on the internet. And they would never do or say things like this in real life. But people are pissed," she said. "People are either really, really, really upset and mad and angry and threatening to do something violent, or they’re profoundly sad and wrecked."

Wiley, who hadn't even watched the episode at the time of her interview, added, "I knew that people were going to have a really big emotional reaction. I mean, it’s a devastating scene, so I think I was anticipating the sadness. But the way that some of these fans are so angry and mad, and just the things that they’re saying, is sort of shocking." 

Poussey's heartbreaking death may have come out of nowhere, but Wiley made sure to note that it wasn't just for shock value. The heartbreaking scene has since sparked discussions about themes of racism and the Black Lives Matter movement in the show's fourth season.

"This is not thoughtless. It is a senseless death, but it’s not a thoughtless decision on the part of the show," she said. "It echoes so many deaths that have happened in the last year, even. Eric Garner. Mike Brown. This happens in real life, and people are so upset." 

Wiley explained that she doesn't want fans to be angry at the show but rather the fact that Poussey's tragic fate is a reality for many people.

"I want them to be upset this is a thing that happens in real life," she said. "I’m hoping that they direct that toward what’s going on in the real world, and are not just upset at the show for reflecting what’s happening in real life."

Along with showrunner Jenji Kohan and the rest of the cast, the actress wished to "start a conversation" with the show's big twist. 

"The conversations on set were mirroring, I think, the conversations that are happening now by the viewers," she said, adding, "The fact that people are talking about it, the fact that people are having big, huge, emotional responses to it, I think that that means we did our job well."

To read more from Wiley's interview, head to Variety



"Orange Is The New Black"