Out actress Samira Wiley stars as Poussey Washington on Orange is the New Black, one of the few regular androgynous lesbian characters that have been on television ever. But it’s her sensitivity and her heartfelt friendships with the other inmates that have us crushing on Poussey, heartbroken for her when Taystee (Danielle Brooks), doesn’t share in the romantic feelings she has for her best friend, and hopeful when a new possible relationship with Soso (Kimiko Glenn) springs up in Season 3.
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for ELLE
We talked with Samira during the Netflix day at the Television Critics Association Press Tour where she shared what she could about what we can expect from Poussey and co. in Season 4 this summer, including thew new character (and Martha Stewart-inspired) Judy King (Blair Brown).
AfterEllen.com: What kind of themes are going on when Season 4 returns?
Samira Wiley: I think we pick up where we left off, at the end of Season 3. We’ve got just busloads of new inmates being bussed into the prison. There’s just bunch of new characters and a bunch of new bodies–just bodies everywhere. It sort of starts there and keeps going. What can you imagine happens when you have all of these people in a small space? You’ve already got, you know, people in the prison. Also as viewers, you know that “OK, this is a clique.” You know who trusts who and where the alliances are, basically.
AE: What about Poussey and So-So–is that happening?
SW: Um, I mean like, I’m really hoping that something happens. Yeah! I think we’ll see what happens with them. We get some screen time together. #Pousoso!
AE: How does Tasystee-Poussey friendship change this season? Do you share a lot of scenes together?
SW: Yes, I think ever since Poussey got it in her head that, you know, it wasn’t going to be that kind of relationship– but I honestly think Poussey and Taystee are the closest thing to sisters. They are everything for each other; they are even more than sisters. Sometimes they are even each other’s mothers. They are as close as you can get. We were talking earlier [on the panel just about Larry not being as much of the show anymore, and having that sort of be a part of that, as the result of your world getting smaller when you go to prison; the macro of the entire world just gets choked in these four walls. And so I think that Poussey has been in prison for two, three years now so her word has gotten smaller for a long time even before the show started. So, because of that, really, Taystee is her world, and all the other girls as well. But they’re still in it to win it, Poussey and Taystee. They’ve got a great relationship. But it’s always complicated.
AE: Last season we saw when Ruby Rose came in, how that shook things up. Do you anticipate that people will react the same way to the new characters as well?
SW: Judy King is such a great character. I hear Blair [Brown] say all the time, “Wait, I have to say that? She does that now? OK! Judy is so surprising, so out there. It’s like “Who is this woman?” You do not have her pinned down, to the very end. I’m still like “Who is she?” I think the interesting thing is that we learn so much about other characters as new characters come in.
AE: Is there a chance for romance for her in Litchfield?
SW: There’s always chance for romance! Always chance for romance. Are you kidding? The prison’s her oyster!
AE: Were there any personal challenges for you this season?
SW: For me, Samira? I think that there are always, with every season, because of the talented writers that we have, there’s always something that ends up being challenging and ends up, I don’t know, changing you in a way as a person, whether that’s just critical thinking about, “Oh my god, I never thought about this way.” But I think that just the four years I’ve been able to play Poussey has really, really helped me grow up, and help me think about things differently. And I will say, actually, definitively this season more than any other, definitely, I’ve learned more this season from her than any other season and there were some things that happened this season that I think are life changing.
AE: Speaking of writers, do you get to give any input to Lauren? Like “Hey, when you’re in the writers’ room, I’d love to…” Does she tell you anything she’s writing?
SW: No, no. We don’t really talk about the show. There’s a sort of like a “don’t talk about the show” thing. So yeah, that’s all I have.
Orange is the New Black returns for Season 4 on June 17th.