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The hardest thing was probably keeping it a secret from everybody else. I definitely needed the time and am grateful and thankful for all the executive producers being able to understand how delicate and sensitive this situation was. It's a huge moment in our show, something I've been a part of for so long, and fans go crazy for Orange Is the New Black, man. That's always my family, but to know I can't just count on going to a set every day that's like that ... I'm so happy I knew the whole season what was going to happen because it really did help me take my time with the scenes and take my time with the girls there, just knowing, Alright this is the last time. I will try to do different things now, movies, or other TV shows, or whatever comes my way. I feel like I really am talking about somebody I lost. Also, just standing up for herself in season two against Vee. Poussey's journey might be over, but Samira's is not.Nobody else in the cast knew until the script came out. That must have been very hard because you guys are so close. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. They made sure I was okay throughout the whole process. After the season comes out they want to come up to you on the street and talk to you about what happened and wrap you up for a bit.
She could have actually pulled herself up and got out of there. She did find love, and it was a great relationship. I wouldn't be talking to you, I wouldn't be able to be in magazines and newspapers and have my family be proud of me because my face is on TV. You talked about how hard it was to go and share with Danielle what was happening.
In the next episode, we're reminded of how she landed in prison, and it's nothing! The thing that's really crazy is that is somebody's real story. When this happens to her in the end, it's like, No, come on. I wouldn't have any of this stuff without Orange Is the New Black. What was it like filming the final scene where she throws herself on the floor with Poussey?
We know Poussey Washington’s federal crimes were trespassing and selling less than half an ounce of marijuana.
We know that when she was arrested she was less than two weeks from starting anew in Amsterdam, attempting to rebuild her life after the gun incident with the Army commander in Germany who caught Poussey and his daughter together.
Meaning that it wasn't one, formal sit-down conversation we all had about it. The way she dies is excruciating to watch and process. She's so much the heart of the show, the beautiful smile, she really wants to help, she's smart. Some people who love Orange Is the New Black don't know what "Black Lives Matter" is. You want to see everybody's face that you've seen from the beginning when you have a moment like this on a show with a character that's been there from the beginning. We hadn't had a day like that on set since maybe first season, when we were all in there rapping together in a circle. But they gave me Poussey's best-night-ever backstory. I feel like that's what they're doing with this last episode. Let's take this last episode and just celebrate who this person was. Don't nobody on Orange Is the New Black ever look in the camera, alright. And they were like, "No, she wants you to look straight into the camera." I was like, This is ridiculous, because we had done it a lot of times just me looking off.
It just happened to be like, "Did you finish the script? That's one of the reasons why they wanted to do it. Fortunately or unfortunately, they definitely succeeded. They don't have a black friend and they don't have a gay friend, but they know Poussey from TV and they feel just like you said — you feel like you knew her. My phone blew when people read that script because [that's when the] cast found out. A night in New York, getting lost, and dancing with drag queens. What about the very last moment when you looked into the camera with your big old smile? So we were on set and we were doing it over and over, and then somebody comes over and they're like, "Jenji said look in the camera." I'm like, Jenji said what?! I was like okay, this is just the genius of Jenji Kohan, I guess I’ll do this and then she'll see or everybody will see later it don't work.
And now we’ve seen her young life come to a tragic, violent end at the hands of a prison guard. [.] Moments on that TV show coincide with moments from my own life.
Wiley told Vulture she’s very sad to leave a series she loves so much, but proud that creator Jenji Kohan chose her to be a symbol of the Black Lives Matter movement in the world of When in the production process did you learn that Poussey would be dying? Poussey, she's a young woman growing up in prison, and Samira is a young woman growing up in an environment she's not used to that much either — and that's this whole fame thing.
They also let me know, even though I didn't have a script, what story was trying to be told in terms of "Black Lives Matter." At the end of the day, I honestly feel pretty honored to be able to be the person or the character or the actor they entrusted with the responsibility of bringing this story to light and bringing this story to a bunch of people in whatever parts of America or whatever parts of the world where this hasn't really permeated their world yet. When you finally did get the script and everyone knew, were there a lot of conversations about the parallels that the writers were trying to draw to "Black Lives Matter" and "I Can’t Breathe"? I don't know if I have the emotional strength to stop on the street and talk about me being dead. Sometimes people don’t understand that your character and who you are as a person are two different things. Those monks were some troopers for real because they didn't have on any coats and it was in the middle of winter. Did they just want to leave us on a happy note with her? I remember one of my castmates right after she read the script, she texted me or called me and said, "Let's have a drink and go mourn her life." It didn't sit right with me.