‘Orange Is The New Black’ Actor Samira Wiley Dealing With Being A Role Model

Orange is the New Black star Samira Wiley has had her life change in a ton of different ways since the series first launched on Netflix. Samira Wiley isn’t the only one who has benefitted greatly from the popularity of Orange is the New Black, but the actress stands out from the pack thanks to her role as a bit of a role model as the show has gone on. While Wiley’s character started off as just another one of the punks that inhabited Litchfield, it’s clear there has been growth and change.

One of the things we learned about Poussey Washington was that she was a lesbian who seemed to have had problems finding the right kind of love. It’s the romantic entanglements Poussey got herself into that contributed to her landing in prison in the first place. Partly because of her lesbian character and because Wiley is a lesbian off camera as well, the actress has taken her role on Orange is the New Black and become a role model to other women who might feel as though they aren’t ready for the world to know they’re a lesbian yet.

One of the most popular shows on television or streaming on the internet these days, Samira Wiley wasn’t convinced when it first aired the show was going to have sticking power. Even if Orange is the New Black did take off, Wiley wasn’t sure she was going to be one of the characters who would be featured as much as she has through its three seasons. Sitting down for an interview with the New York Times, Wiley told the publication when she first got her Orange is the New Black gig, she kept her other job.

“I bartended the entire time that I shot Season 1 because I didn’t know if I was going to be in the next episode.”

Samira went onto explain she had a bad experience with another program where she had been a “recurring character” in her contract but “after the second episode, they never called me again. I’d thought I was the main character’s best friend.” It turns out she was not. While we have seen bits and pieces of Poussey’s story, we’re still not entirely sure why exactly she is in Litchfield. Orange is the New Black is set to launch its fourth season on Neflix on June 17, and it appears this is one of the storylines we’re going to see more of when it hits.

Wiley also says we’re going to see her character run into a role model of hers in the character of Blaire Brown, who will be playing a Martha Stewart-type criminal. It’s likely that Wiley’s character is going to find herself in a situation where her role model isn’t living up to what Poussey expected. The woman who brings Poussey to life seems to be well aware there is a danger of that happening in real life too.

To her credit, Wiley also seems to want to make sure that doesn’t happen to people who look up to her. In Orange is the New Black, there are plenty of times when the women have found themselves in situations where they might actually have been the victim. Wiley says she’s seen that with her parents getting dragged through the mud, but she doesn’t want people to think they did a bad job raising her. Wiley says she wouldn’t be the person she is today without their support, and she wants to give that kind of support to people she runs across.

“I have a responsibility as a potential role model that I take very seriously. It’s one thing to live my own life and know that I’m O.K. But there’s another thing I want to take on, and that is letting people know that they’re O.K., too.” Samira Wiley will attempt to live up to that potential on the upcoming season of Orange is the New Black.

[Photo by Bill Kostroun/AP Images]