Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Samira Wiley Talks 'Orange Is the New Black' and Black Lives Matter

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Samira Wiley Talks 'Orange Is the New Black' and Black Lives Matter

Article excerpt

Samira Wiley of 'Orange' on Black Lives Matter


TORONTO - SPOILER ALERT: This story discusses plot points from the current season of "Orange is the New Black" that's now on Netflix.

"Orange is the New Black" actor Samira Wiley's appearance at Sunday's Pride parade in Toronto couldn't have been more timely.

Wiley and several castmates appeared on an "Orange" float at the parade as the group Black Lives Matter Toronto disrupted the route to force Pride organizers to sign a list of demands.

Coincidentally, the current season 4 of "Orange" and its major plotline involving Wiley's character Poussey Washington are inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, she said.

"The death of Poussey has very much echoed the deaths of Eric Garner, Mike Brown and other senseless deaths caused by police and brutality," Wiley said in an interview the day after the parade.

"I'm really honoured to be able to be a part of a television show that's not afraid to tackle those issues."

Near the end of the season, Poussey dies when a guard at the women's prison accidentally suffocates her during a peaceful protest.

"It's heartbreaking the way that it happens," said Wiley, 29. "It happens so quietly and it happens in a way that goes so unnoticed.

"I think that that is symbolic that this is happening over and over and over again and there's not enough attention on it. No one's looking. No one's seeing."

Naturally, fans are reeling.

"People are really sad. People are really mad and I think people should be," said Wiley, "because this is actually going on in the real world ... and we're trying to bring awareness to that."

With her intelligence, good nature and educated family, Poussey was a beloved character who struck down stereotypes about people of colour behind bars.

"She really was a beacon of light and I'm going to miss her a lot," said Wiley, getting choked up. …

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