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Samira Wiley    

Actress; Best Known for Her Role in "Orange is the New Black" & "The Handmaid's Tale"

From Washington, D.C., Samira Wiley is a graduate of Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Her parents are the co-pastors of Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ. Wiley's parents have been referred to as "pillars of the LGBT religious community," as the Covenant Baptist Church was the only Baptist church in Washington D.C. performing same-sex unions in 2007. Wiley herself identifies as lesbian.

Wiley studied drama at the Juilliard School in New York, graduating in 2010. She trained in theater performance and worked mainly in theater in her early career. In 2011, she played Maria in a production of Love's Labour's Lost by The Public Theater.

When the Netflix television series Orange Is the New Black came into development, she was told about the auditions by a friend from Juilliard, Marco Ramirez, who was a writer for the show. After she discovered that another Juilliard friend, Danielle Brooks, had won a role in the show, Wiley asked Brooks to rehearse lines with her to prepare for her audition for the role of Poussey Washington, the on-screen best friend of Brooks' character. Wiley's audition was ultimately successful; she appeared in all twelve episodes of the series' first season and was featured prominently throughout the second season. The darker and more violent plot of the second season allowed for the growth of Samira Wiley's character Poussey Washington. These evolved story lines lead to Wiley's prolonged screen exposure and ultimate development as a "fan-favorite." She was promoted to series regular for the third season.

Wiley's first major acting role was in the 2011 comedy film, The Sitter. In between seasons of Orange Is the New Black, Wiley filmed Rob the Mob, an independent crime film directed by Raymond De Felitta.

In 2014, Samira Wiley was named OUT100 Magazine's Ingénue of the Year. In February 2015, Samira Wiley was awarded the Human Rights Campaign's Visibility Award. According to the Human Rights Campaign's website, Wiley was always accepted and embraced by her parents, regardless of her sexuality, and to this she attributes her success.

In part, Samira Wiley won the 2015 Screen Actor's Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, along with numerous members of the cast of Netflix's Original Series Orange Is The New Black.


Interview: Actor Samira Wiley of Orange Is The New Black : Code ...

Samira Wiley has spent most of her career onstage and is used to filling in blanks about her characters. But she's reluctant to do so for her role on the hit Netflix ...

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