Orange Is the New Black season four has been out for a week. You've probably made it all the way through the season (at least once). If you haven't, turn back now.
If you've made it this far down, you know the devastating fate that befell Samira Wiley's fan-favorite character Poussey Washington and the chaos that ensued. After the inmates of Litchfield staged a peaceful protest against Piscatella (Brad William Henke), he ordered the correction officers to remove the inmates from the tables and get them back to their rooms. Bayley (Alan Aisenberg) was attempting to remove Poussey, which prompted Suzanne (Uzo Aduba) to struggle with him. The result? He accidentally suffocated Poussey.
Since the season has been out there, living on the Internet for people to react to, Wiley's been hearing from fans.
"Man, people are upset, people are mad, people are pissed, people are confused. It's a whole big mess," she told E! News with a laugh.
But she's happy they're upset. Read on to find out why.
I know you've had to keep this secret for over a year. At any point did you have a conversation with Jenji [Kohan] or the writers to find why it had to be your character?
Oh yeah. Actually, we had a conversation about like that. They felt like they couldn't really tell the story with a character that didn't have such a strong moral compass, like Poussey did, and such a bright future ahead of her. You could imagine Poussey's life outside prison, you could imagine her succeeding and to have that cut short, it wouldn't have the same impact if there was a character whose future wasn't as bright as Poussey's. They wanted it to hurt. And it hurt. [Laughs.]
Have you seen the last two episodes?
I have not seen those episodes yet. I'm not ready to watch them yet.
What was it like filming your last day?
Oh gosh, oh man. It was—my last actual day on set, I must say, wasn't as emotional as my last day on—because my last day on set was away from the actual prison set with my backstory. We were out somewhere else. It didn't necessarily feel like it was my last day on Orange. I remember the last day I did on episode 12, though, was my last day on the prison set and that, that really felt like there was some finality afterward. I remember taking some things, they let me take some things from set like my costume. Oh god, I'm going to cry right now thinking about it. It was pretty emotional having that day.
This has been your life for four years. You guys have been together—I know you guys do long days. I can't really imagine what that was like. It shows that you've made a family together.
Absolutely. I'm just so thankful we had episode 13 just because I left episode 12 feeling so broken and so sad and like I said, to have my last day at what was my home for four years. To be able to have a celebratory episode to celebrate Poussey's life and in a way to celebrate all my time on the show was great, to be able to have that last [episode], because if I didn't, I don't know, I might be depressed right now.
I was struck by so many of the reactions to the death, like Norma singing to Soso. Seeing that just broke my heart. And Taystee in the episode where she just crumbles to the ground. I read that wasn't scripted.
Danielle [Brooks] is such an amazing actress and I think there are so many parallels in that scene of our journey together and our life. When I first told her about it, she was shocked and we cried together first before we did the scene, we cried together afterwards and we cried through it. I haven't really experienced anything like the chemistry Danielle and I have on screen and the journey we've been able to take together. It's something really, really special.
You told her before everyone else, correct?
I told her and Uzo at the same time before everyone, yes.
That must have been a cryfest.
We definitely had a bottle of wine there. We needed that to get through it.
I've seen mixed reactions from fans. Like you said, people are pissed and upset. What do you think it says about the system that's in place?
Well, No. 1 I think it says that people are often unaware of what's going on right under their noses. They're so upset, which is great. People are so upset, but at the end of the day it is a TV show. It's fiction, but we are trying our best to reflect what happens in the world every day and the fact that people are up in arms is great. I hope it can translate to them being up in arms about what's going on in the real world.
What was the toughest part of keeping the secret?
Oh man, probably the toughest part about keeping the secret was with people who weren't on the show, like my closest friends who aren't on the show. I'm trying to talk to them about my life, I have plans to move from New York to LA or whatever, and I'm talking about that and they're like, ‘What do you mean? What about the show?' [Laughs.] I had to come up with this web of lies to help cover the secret. It was difficult, that was hard.
You're going to You're the Worst, which I love, and it's a different world.
No, it's completely different. I've already filmed a couple of days on it already and it's completely different, but it's amazing. The creator of the show [Stephen Falk] used to write on Orange. He actually wrote my backstory in season two and the cast is amazing there. They're embracing me in such a wonderful way and holding my hand through it because I'm definitely new to this, but I'm figuring it out and I'm having a great time.
As a fan of the show, is there anyone's backstory you are still dying to know?
There's also a lot of people I want to know more about their backstories, like even Taystee. I want to know more about her, I want to see her like maybe before Vee came into her life. They can go so many places, you know what I mean, with these backstories, with different part of people's lives. Honestly, I'm excited to be a viewer next season and to not really know or expect what's going to happen and just sit back and watch.
We've talked about fan reaction. To you have a message to fans now that they've had a week to let it sink in.
I know people are upset about the show. I want them to know, No. 1, I'm OK. Samira's OK. I want everyone to be excited to see where the show goes next. I want people to be upset, but I want you to be upset because this is a thing that happens in the world, you know what I mean? I want the anger to go in the right place and not just be pissed at Orange Is the New Black, but be pissed that this is a thing that happens in the world we live in.
Orange Is the New Black season four is now streaming on Netflix.