Meet the Real Alex From Orange Is the New Black

Catherine Cleary Wolters breaks her silence about the hit Netflix series

By Chris Harnick Apr 15, 2014 5:05 PMTags
Cleary Wolters, Orange is the New BlackClaudia Susana exclusively for Vanity Fair

Meet the real Alex Vause from Orange Is the New Black: Catherine Cleary Wolters.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, the ex-felon broke her silence about her relationship with Piper Kerman, the hit Netflix series from Jenji Kohan and the major differences between the two. Laura Prepon plays a version of her on the series.

The 51-year-old, who is called Nora in Kerman's book, said there are some major differences between what really happened and what the Netflix series depicts. Namely sex.


The two never got it on in prison and only spent five weeks in the same facility in Chicago when they were both in town to testify against a co-conspirator. When they encountered each other on a flight, Wolters said Kerman refused to speak to her. However, they eventually made peace in Chicago.

Wolters told Vanity Fair of Kerman's decision to tell her story (or a version of it) on TV, "That takes balls the size of Oklahoma." Still, she said the story isn't "about a fun ride through some old familiar haunt," it's real, it's her "nightmare" and the stress is oh-so real.

"But I watched, and of course I'll watch the rest," she said. "I can't help it. It's a great show. The actors are incredible, the story line is interesting, and come on, who doesn't want to see Donna from That '70s Show have lesbian sex?"

Jill Greenberg for Netflix

Kerman responded to Wolters. "The relationship between the characters in the Netflix series, Piper Chapman and Alex Vause, is fictional," she told Vanity Fair. "I did have the opportunity to make peace with Cleary in Chicago, to relinquish any sense of blame for her, and to work through my ideas and emotions about forgiveness and responsibility…I am exceptionally grateful that our odd chance meeting in Chicago happened, and I wish Cleary a very happy life moving forward."

In an interview about Orange Is the New Black, Prepon said she asked to meet "the real Alex," but was told she couldn't.

"She is MIA, girl. I do not know where she is. And it's kind of like...we don't talk about the real Alex—I don't know. I did want to meet her, but they were like, ‘That's not possible.' So I don't know where the hell she is," Prepon told Vulture.

When asked if she was given a reason, Prepon said no. "Honestly, even though we're based on the real people, the thing about our show is they really let us do our vision of these women," she told Vulture. "I know that I look nothing like the real Alex, whereas Taylor, you can see the resemblance between her and the real Piper. But also with Taylor, Jenji was like, ‘We're doing your version of Piper. Don't worry about trying to be Piper Kerman.'"

The new season of Orange Is the New Black premieres June 6 on Netflix.