List of Orange Is the New Black characters

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Orange Is the New Black is an American comedy-drama series created by Jenji Kohan that airs on Netflix. It is based on Piper Kerman's memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison, about her experiences in a women's prison.[1] The series' protagonist is Piper Chapman, a woman sentenced to 15 months in a woman's federal prison for her part in a drug smuggling operation ten years before the start of the first season. It follows Piper's experiences in and out of prison along with the experiences of a diverse ensemble.[2]

Main cast[edit]

Piper Chapman[edit]

Taylor Schilling

Piper Chapman (played by Taylor Schilling) is a woman who was sentenced to 15 months in Litchfield Penitentiary for helping her former girlfriend Alex Vause smuggle drug money in Europe several years before the first episode. The first season shows Piper's journey through the prison system, beginning with her rough first week, during which she accidentally makes several enemies and struggles to adapt to life on the inside, as well as reuniting with Alex. In prison, she acquires several other nicknames throughout the series. "Crazy Eyes" calls her "Dandelion" because she is tall and blonde, "Pennsatucky" refers to her as "College," and Tricia refers to her as "Brain," because she is more educated than most of the inmates. Piper is assigned a bunk with Claudette, who treats her rudely at first, but eventually warms up to her. Piper is assigned to the Women's Advisory Council (WAC), despite not running and asking Healy not to put her on it. She works in the electrical shop at the prison and inadvertently takes a screwdriver from the tool crib and loses it. Her ambiguous sexuality is a source of amusement to her best friend Polly, and of frustration to her fiancé Larry. She is initially considered non-threatening by most of the other inmates. Although she does her best to have empathy and be helpful to others, she is often accused of being profoundly self-obsessed, and she only comes to realize that this might be true after being sent to prison. She becomes enemies with Tiffany after she ridiculed her religious beliefs, and ended up beating her severely after a failed attempt on her life at the end of the first season, knocking out all of her teeth.

In the second season, she is flown to Chicago to testify at the trial of Alex's former boss, Kubra Balik. After perjuring herself at the recommendation of Alex, Piper is returned to Litchfield to serve the remainder of her sentence while Alex is released on early parole for her testimony. After learning her grandmother is dying, Healy assists her in getting furlough to visit her, and then to attend the funeral, which aggravates some of the other inmates. She is also commissioned by a journalist and friend of Larry's to secretly investigate the prison's books, and later collaborates with Caputo to expose Figueroa's corruption, preventing Piper from being transferred to a prison in Virginia. She ends up breaking up with Larry, and after discovering that him and her friend Polly are having an affair, she asks them to report Alex to her probation officer. In the third season, Piper admits to Alex that she was the one that alerted her probation officer that she violated her parole, causing her to be sent back to prison. Piper ends up getting selected for a new work detail creating underwear for Whispers, a lingerie company. After being rebuffed on her attempt to show the company that they were wasting fabric and could make an extra pair of underwear with each sheet, she uses the extra fabric to start a used panty business with her brother Cal, recruits some of the other inmates to wear the panties, and uses Officer Bayley to smuggle the panties out of the prison. At first, she pays the women wearing the panties with ramen noodle seasoning packets, but is forced to give them money after Flaca threatens to cause a strike. However, as her business begins to succeed, she becomes darker and more ruthless, firing Flaca in retaliation for her instigation of the strike. This change in Piper's personality, as well as Alex's paranoia leads to the end of their relationship, and Piper starts a relationship with new inmate Stella Carlin and allowed her to tattoo the words "Trust No Bitch" on her arm. At the end of the third season, Piper discovers that Stella stole her money from her panty business to use as a financial cushion on the outside due to her pending release. Piper at first pretends to forgive her and allows her to keep the money, but later plants several contraband items (including a shiv and some marijuana) in her area and arranges for them to be discovered, causing Stella to be moved to maximum security, while facing an extended sentence. She uses this incident as a warning to the other inmates that may try to cross her.

In the fourth season, Piper has allowed the incident with Stella to go to her head, and she has become arrogant and overconfident, hiring her new bunk mate Stephanie Hapakuka as muscle. As a result, when Maria Ruiz tries to persuade Piper to recruit some of her new Dominican friends into her business, Piper is rude to her. Angered, Maria starts a rival business that quickly outperforms Piper's. Faced with the loss of her business, Piper convinces the new guard captain Piscatella to let her start an anti-gang task force, but the women that gather at her meeting mistakenly assume that she wants to start a white supremacist group. During a meeting with one of the COs, the women bring the used panty businesses to his attention (after Piper tried to downplay it), resulting in Maria being caught and Piscatella recommending that she gets three to five years added to her sentence. Despite her disgust with the white supremacist gang, she hangs out with them for protection from Maria's gang, but she is still kidnapped by Maria and branded with a swastika. She shows Red the brand while crying on her bed, and later shows Nicky and Alex while smoking crack cocaine in the garden. While high, Piper discovers that Kubra sent Aydin to kill Alex and she killed him after he failed. Later, she was able to get her swastika altered into a window, with the help of Red, Norma, and Alex, and she apologizes to Alex for not believing her during the branding. After the incident, she and Alex start having sex again. Piper tries to convince Piscatella to stop the increasingly draconian treatment of the other inmates by the guards, and when he refuses, she joins the protest to include standing next to Blanca Flores on the cafeteria table. When Aydin's remains are found, she tries to prevent Alex from confessing to Aydin's murder. After Bayley accidentally kills Poussey, she runs into him in the hall while he is trying to go to Poussey's friends to apologize. She tells him to let them grieve and that she will let them know he is sorry in order to prevent him from going to their cell block. At the end of the season, she discovers that Alex has written several notes with Aydin's full name on it and spread it around the prison. She convinces her to gather them up so that they can burn them, but shortly after they throw them into a garbage can and set them on fire, women participating in the riot kick over the can, spreading the papers all over the floor.

Alex Vause[edit]

Laura Prepon

Alex Vause (played by Laura Prepon) – Alex is a former drug smuggler for an unspecified international drug cartel. Years prior to the beginning of the series, she took a sexual interest in Piper after meeting her in a bar, and gradually integrated her into the drug trade while they traveled the world living in luxury. Alex once convinced Piper to smuggle cash through customs at an airport in Europe, the crime for which Piper is doing time. Alex specifically named Piper during her testimony, which is what led to Piper's later arrest. After Piper broke up with her, Alex began using heroin, but cleaned up in prison. She states during an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting that being in prison is her "rock bottom" experience. Alex's mother had worked four jobs, and her father was a washed-up rock star. Alex tracked down her father and struck up a friendship with his drug dealer who subsequently became her industry contact in a drug cartel. Alex is not particularly broken up about being in prison, since she at least managed to free herself of her drug addiction. She admits to Piper and Nicky that she isn't sure what she'll do with her life when she gets out, as her only life skill is "moving massive amounts of heroin." She appears to have moments of depression, telling Nicky that she can no longer "get past the swirling darkness in her brain long enough to land on anything," and mentioning to Piper that upon entering prison, she was on anti-depressants, which she now trades for black eyeliner.

Alex is good at reading people and is perceptive, quite often surmising Piper's true feelings and intentions. During the second season, she double-crosses Piper and gives incriminating evidence at the trial of her former boss Kubra (after advising Piper to lie), earning herself an early release. When Piper calls her on the phone, she reveals that Kubra had walked free, and she is now in fear of her life. To Piper's dismay, when Alex visits, she reveals that she is planning to skip town and go into hiding. Wanting to get her old girlfriend back in prison with her, Piper secretly asks Polly to tip off her probation officer, causing Alex to violate her probation when he turns up to check on her, to find her brandishing a gun. In the third season, she returns to Litchfield, and despite finding out that Piper was the reason she was arrested, she restarts their relationship. This is short-lived, as the two break up again when Piper starts dating Stella. Alex becomes suspicious when Lolly Whitehall, a new inmate originally seen in Chicago, comes to the prison and she assumes that Kubra sent Lolly to kill her. Confronting Lolly in the bathroom, the two fight, and while choking Lolly, Alex discovers that she is just a paranoid prisoner that thinks the NSA is watching her. Alex ends up convincing Lolly that she is an undercover agent with the CIA in order to keep her from reporting their confrontation.

At the end of the third season, Alex is confronted in the greenhouse by Aydin Bayat, one of Kubra's enforcers, who has come to kill her. At the beginning of the fourth season, Lolly returns to find Alex and walks in to find Aydin garrotting her with his belt. Instinctively, she storms in, pushes him off of her and stomps him until he is unconscious and presumed dead. Later that night, she finds Aydin still breathing, and smothers him to death before dismembering his body and disposing of his remains in the prison garden the following morning with Lolly and Frieda. She is concerned with Lolly's actions, when she continues to insist that Aydin was a government agent, but she tries to stop Frieda from killing Lolly to silence her. Alex becomes consumed with guilt for killing Aydin, and tells Red about it. When Nicky returns from max, Alex declines a proposition for sex with her, but ends up smoking crack with her and Piper in the garden. While they were high, Piper shows her the swastika brand on her arm, and Alex tells Piper and Nicky that she killed Aydin. She helps Red and Norma turn Piper's brand into a window, while Piper apologized to her for ignoring her concerns about Kubra trying to kill her. After arguing with Piper about who would give Bayley a handjob in exchange for burgers, the two once again rekindle their relationship. When Aydin's remains are found, she expresses disappointment that his remains may not be identified. She attempts to confess to Piscatella, but is prevented from doing so after Healy turns Lolly in for Aydin's death. She starts spreading notes around the prison identifying Aydin, and after Piper discovers her planting a note in the garden, she tells Alex to gather the notes so she isn't implicated. At the end of the season, Alex and Piper attempt to burn the notes in a garbage can, but after they light up the notes, inmates participating in the riot kick over the garbage can, spreading the notes all over the floor.

Sam Healy[edit]

Michael Harney

Sam Healy (played by Michael Harney) – Healy is an experienced Correction Officer and supervisor at Litchfield Penitentiary who has a Master of Social Work and acts as prison counselor to many of the inmates. He is initially presented as someone who, though rigid, genuinely wants to help the inmates under his care. Due to his preference for avoiding confrontation, Healy is contemptuously referred to as "Samantha" by Caputo, who feels that Healy is not tough enough on the inmates. Healy generally appears weary and often tells the inmates what they want to hear so they will leave him alone - he later admits to his own counselor that he is dissatisfied with his job, having gone into it with such idealistic notions of changing the world, but his experiences have left him cynical. Despite this, he still shows a sense of justice, such as forging evidence to show that Suzanne (who was going to take for the fall for an assault she did not commit) was in fact innocent. Healy has an outspoken personal vendetta against lesbians for unknown reasons, cautioning Piper at the beginning of the series not to be involved with lesbian activity. While early on he appears particularly sympathetic towards Piper and even acts biased in her favor, he increasingly dislikes her as he hears rumors of her alleged lesbian activities. His hatred of lesbians, first presented as a quirk, is later revealed to be a deep-seated pathological problem when he explosively sends Piper to solitary confinement purely because she was dancing closely with Alex. In season four, it is revealed that his hatred of lesbianism was imbued in him by his father, who believed that it was a disease akin to schizophrenia. His increasing disdain of Piper culminates in his acquiescence to Tiffany Doggett's attempt to murder her in the first season finale. During the second season, Healy makes amends with Piper, supporting her idea of a weekly prison newsletter and getting her a furlough to visit her dying grandmother. He also attempts to start a group counseling program with Tiffany, but cancels it due to poor attendance, further adding to his emotional exhaustion. At home, Healy is in a troubled and apparently loveless marriage with a Ukrainian mail-order bride, who speaks little English, and her mother. It is implied that Healy lied about himself to her on the Internet, and she is only staying with him because she has two years left until she gets her green card. In the third season, he enlists the help of Red to mediate between the two and bridge the language gap, however Red ends up lambasting his wife and defending Healy as a "good man." Following this, Healy and his wife appear to have split, while Healy then forms a closer bond with Red. It is also implied they have mutual romantic feelings for one another; but Red initially flirts with him so that she can be reassigned on her job in the kitchen, much to Sam's dismay. Later on, it seems that Red and Sam still has hidden feelings for each other, as evidenced on how they shared a look during Lorna Morello's wedding, and Red rejected the idea of developing their relationship, saying "their ships passed too late in the night," despite Sam's attempts to admit their feelings for each other. At times, Healy also finds himself at odds with new counselor Berdie Rogers and her alternative methods, feeling that she is encouraging the prisoners to engage in deviant behavior. In the fourth season, his backstory is further explored. His mother suffered from severe mental illness, causing frequent stress to young Sam. When she began electroconvulsive therapy, her erratic behavior subsided. However, she confided to Sam that she wished to stop the therapy, as they caused her to feel "fuzzy" and forgetful. Sam protested against this, saying that he preferred her medicated. Following this, his mother left the home and never returned, with Healy still uncertain of her fate decades later. This experience causes problems between him and the schizophrenic Lolly, with Healy believing that her confession to murdering a guard is a delusion, although it is completely true. At the end of the fourth season, increasingly dissatisfied with his job and unsure if he is able to be effective, he contemplates suicide by walking into a lake, but returns to shore when he hears his phone. Later, rather than returning to work, he voluntarily checks himself into psychiatric care, and is later seen in the facility while watching Caputo's statement on television. He made no appearance in season 5.

Claudette "Miss Claudette" Pelage[edit]

Claudette "Miss Claudette" Pelage (played by Michelle Hurst) – Miss Claudette is a very strict and feared inmate at the prison, she is often grumpy and holds her bunk-mates to very high standards. Her mysterious origins and fearsome reputation bred numerous legends, with some inmates humorously noting they never see her in the bathrooms. When Piper is assigned to share a cubicle with her, she reacts rudely due to her obsession with cleanliness and dislike of the messy situations Piper brings with her, but softens to her over time. It is later shown that Miss Claudette was inducted into forced child labor and sent to the United States from an unknown French-speaking country (possibly Haiti) to pay off a familial debt. She was brought to America by a boy called Jean Baptiste whom she develops a close friendship and later falls in love. Years later she ran her own illegal cleaning service using similar child labor. She kills a customer who beat and abused one of her cleaning girls, which is the basis for the rumor amongst the prisoners that she is in prison for murder. It is not clear if she was convicted for her business, the killing, or both. She also becomes heartbroken after Baptiste marries another woman.

Miss Claudette never gets mail, has not received a visitor in a decade of being incarcerated, and initially refuses help with her case as she has nothing to live for outside. However, when she receives a letter from Baptiste (whose wife has since died) she decides to appeal her conviction. Initially optimistic, her appeal is denied, and in a fit of anger she nearly strangles a prison guard in grief, and is immediately transferred to a maximum security prison with an extended sentence.

Galina "Red" Reznikov[edit]

Kate Mulgrew

Galina "Red" Reznikov (played by Kate Mulgrew) – Red is a Russian inmate who runs the prison's kitchen as the master chef and is the behind-the-scenes leader of the prison's white population. In her earlier life, she and her husband had migrated from Russia and ran a struggling restaurant in Queens, eventually getting involved with the Russian mafia bosses who frequented their establishment. Red angered the mob bosses by punching one of their wives in the chest (rupturing a breast implant) after being excluded by their group, but later impressed the same boss by offering sound advice that allowed her to swiftly climb the ranks of the organization. Red is feared and respected by most of the prisoners, and has a lot of influence with Healy. She is the closest to Nicky, whom she loves like a daughter, and is always accompanied by Norma and Gina who cater to her needs and work with her in the kitchen. Red runs a smuggling business out of her kitchen, using a food company she helped the Russian mafia set up, but refuses to import drugs of any kind. She actively uses her resources to help some of the inmates overcome drug addictions, although they have only "two strikes" before she abandons them because "Russians don't play baseball". When Mendez begins to force her to use her connections to bring in drugs, she hatches a plan to have him removed from the prison.

Red is initially pleasant to Piper until she unknowingly insults her cooking, and in response Red punishes her by starvation. Piper eventually repairs their relationship by making a lotion to help soothe Red's injured back. Red also has an odd obsession with a chicken that is allegedly seen on the prison grounds from time to time, as she wants to cook "real food" and also wants to absorb its "power." Towards the end of the first season, she's decommissioned from the kitchen by Caputo after he discovers Mendez's drug smuggling operation, which is blamed on Red. Caputo assigns Gloria as the new master chef, and the kitchen is then run by the Latina inmates. In an attempt to take Gloria and her "girls" out of the kitchen, Red sabotaged one of the ovens, causing Gina to get injured, thus straining her relationship with her friends severely. Red eventually becomes Piper's new roommate and befriends her, while at the same time she attempts to come to terms with her loss of friends and status, in the process befriending the "Golden Girls" — the older women in the prison.

Upon discovering a disused sewage drain in the prison greenhouse, Red restarts her smuggling business and reunites her shattered circle of friends. She has history with Vee, a returning prisoner who had befriended her when Red first went to prison years before the series began, only to be violently beaten by Vee who tried to take over her smuggling operation. Vee's appearance in the prison puts Red in competition with her. Following repeated threats from Vee against Red's girls and her family outside prison, Red attempts to strangle Vee during a blackout, but can't bring herself to finish the job and instead agrees to a truce. However, Vee sneaks up on Red in the greenhouse and beats her violently with a sock with a padlock inside, sending her to the prison hospital. She at first keeps her silence to the authorities about Vee as her attacker, preferring instead to plot her revenge, but has a change of heart after speaking with Sister Ingalls.

Throughout the second season, visits from her son reveal that Red's family business is failing and the family itself is having money troubles. When Piper is granted furlough, Red asks her to stop by the shop, and Piper sees the business is closed down. Upon returning to prison, Piper lies and tells Red that the business is doing well. Red eventually discovers that Piper lied about the business's prosperity and berates her for attempting to cover it up. After divorcing her husband for failing to keep the business open, Red starts a friendship with Healy and uses this to get back into the kitchen. Healy convinces Caputo to let her back into the kitchen, but shortly after she takes over the kitchen, it is revealed that MCC has begun to order prepackaged foods as a cost-saving measure, severely diminishing the quality of the food and limiting her ability to cook traditional meals.

In the fourth season, Red is distraught when she discovers that her new bunkmate has sleep apnea, and snores very loudly. This, together with the new breakfast timetable, severely affects Red's ability to sleep. She makes numerous attempts to silence her bunk mate, and eventually resorts to taking sleeping pills. In addition, she finds herself having to assist Alex, Lolly and Frieda in covering up Aydin's death. She is overjoyed when Nicky returns from max. However, shortly afterwards, some of Red's possessions disappear, and she later discovers that Nicky had stolen them to fund her relapse into drug addiction. She finds Nicky sitting on the floor in the showers and is heartbroken, feeling that she failed Nicky, and that her harsh policy on drugs contributed both to Nicky's relapse and to Tricia's death. After Nicky agreed to sober up again, Red went to the drug dealers and threatened to tamper with their food if they sell drugs to Nicky just in case. After learning that Piper was branded with a swastika, she helped alter it to a window. When Aydin's body is found, Red is one of the first suspects, and Piscatella deliberately prevents her from sleeping in an attempt to force a confession. In response to the death of Poussey, Red tells her family to start building a new garden, as the last had been destroyed to make room for a new building, to keep them busy and out of trouble.

Larry Bloom[edit]

Jason Biggs

Larry Bloom (played by Jason Biggs) – Larry is a Jewish freelance writer trying to establish a journalism career, and Piper's neurotic and arrogant fiancé. He is blindsided at the beginning of the series when his then girlfriend Piper reveals to him her former life as a lesbian who smuggled cash for a drug cartel 10 years ago. Larry is initially ardently supportive of Piper, and proposes marriage to her before she goes inside. As the series progresses, he begins to cool toward her, becoming frustrated when he learns that Piper's former lover is in the same prison and that she didn't tell him about it. Later on, he begins writing a newspaper article titled "One Sentence, Two Prisoners" about the experience of having a fiancée in prison. This article is published in The New York Times and allows him to move up in the journalistic world. He is close to his parents, who are strongly opposed to his marriage plans. After a conversation with Alex, Larry's repressed neurosis gets the better of him, and he breaks off his engagement with Piper. During the second season, he begins an affair with Piper's best friend Polly after becoming a more supportive partner than her husband, who was frequently gone for trips. Shortly after this, Larry and Polly reveal the affair to Piper and asked for her blessing in their relationship. At the end of the second season, Piper asks Larry and Polly to arrange for Alex to be thrown back in prison for violating her probation. Although Larry expresses doubts, Piper is able to appeal to Polly who agrees to help. He was not seen at all in Seasons 3 and 4. In Season 5 he appears in a flashback episode that reveals he has a tattoo of the Kool-Aid mascot on his butt. When Piper mentions him to other inmates during the riot, one of them notes she's never heard his name and has no idea who he is.

Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren[edit]

Uzo Aduba

Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren (played by Uzo Aduba) – Suzanne is a mentally unstable inmate with a violent history, however generally passive and friendly. An African-American, she was raised by an adoptive middle class white couple who later had another daughter named Grace during Suzanne's childhood. For her race and mental illness, Suzanne was often shunned by her parents' community and her little sister's friends. Her parents tried to provide her with the best care growing up, but, despite their love, Suzanne felt pushed by her mother to accomplish things that she was afraid to do.

Suzanne is a lesbian who develops an obsession with Piper when she first arrives at Litchfield, giving her the pet name "Dandelion" because of Piper's blonde hair. She is initially portrayed as creepy and unpredictable due to her obsession with Piper, stalking her around the prison and submitting a request to bunk together. After being rejected, she urinates in Piper's cubicle. As the show progresses she acts more like a regular inmate, and is revealed that despite her mental illness, she is rather intelligent with a flair for reciting literature and poetry verbatim, often writing her own compositions. She received her nickname "Crazy Eyes" due to her tendency to widen her eyes when she talks. Suzanne is unaware of why exactly people call her "Crazy Eyes," but it is shown that she is hurt by the nickname. During the second season, it emerges that she gets stage fright, and on the night of Piper's altercation with Tiffany, had come outside in the midst of a panic attack, and mistaking Piper for her adoptive mother, punched her in the face, inadvertently making it look like a more even fistfight, saving Piper from severe punishment.

When Yvonne "Vee" Parker enters the prison and forms an African-American gang, Suzanne falls for Vee's charms and maternal influence, being exploited into becoming Vee's "muscle." While zealously loyal to Vee, Suzanne violently beat or threatened any inmates who crossed her, almost acting on command. Later, Vee attempts to coldly trick her into taking the fall for Red's severe beating, as a distraught Suzanne believes she may have done it unconsciously due to her violent history. During the third season, she is encouraged by the new counselor Berdie Rogers to be more creative, causing her to start writing several science fiction erotic stories that become a hit among the women in the prison. Suzanne reveals that she has no sexual experience and is completely naïve in regard to sex, having never actually had a girlfriend before, and that the stories are based on other sources. Eventually, the stories make their way to the staff, causing Rogers to get suspended. Meanwhile, Suzanne becomes nervous upon discovering that one of her fans, Maureen Kukudio, is interested in her romantically. Suzanne backs out of a possible sexual encounter, but is later seen forming a close bond with Maureen towards the end of the season.

In the fourth season, Suzanne becomes put off when Maureen turns out to be quite strange, and abandons her in the woods. For most of the season, she and Lorna attempt to find out who is defecating in the showers, before Nicky eventually deduces that it was Angie, and that she was doing it to smuggle drugs inside the prison. Through her conversations with Lorna, Suzanne is eventually convinced that she gave up on Maureen too quickly, and eventually approaches her to suggest they give the broom closet another go. Maureen agrees, but deliberately leaves Suzanne unsatisfied in retaliation for abandoning her in the woods. When Aydin's remains are discovered, Suzanne is one of the suspects because of her history of mental health problems, and is taken for questioning. In flashbacks, Suzanne lives with Grace and her boyfriend Brad. She works as a greeter at a hypermarket and befriends Dylan, a young child. When Grace and Brad leave for the weekend, she goes to the park, sees Dylan, and brings him to her apartment to play video games. Dylan became scared and called 911, and while fleeing from Suzanne, he climbs out of a window and falls off of the fire escape of her apartment.

While in the waiting room, Maureen approaches, seeking a reconciliation, but Suzanne goes and sits elsewhere. She then gets into a verbal dispute with white supremacist inmate Kasey Sankey after laughing at her when Officer Humphrey pulled her chair, and he immediately tries to escalate it into a full-on fight. Kasey declined to do so, but an embittered Maureen volunteers to fight Suzanne instead. In the subsequent fight, Maureen accidentally takes her taunting too far, and Suzanne violently tackles her to the ground and proceeds to beat her severely, before she is eventually dragged off. The incident unhinges Suzanne, and shortly afterwards, when she takes part in a non-violent stand-in in the prison canteen, the sight of Humphrey causes her to go into a full-on meltdown. Officer Bayley attempts to restrain her and take her to psych, inadvertently making Suzanne become more erratic. Poussey attempts to intervene, and is pinned to the ground by Bayley's leg while at the same time attempting to wrestle with Suzanne. As a result, Poussey is suffocated and dies on the canteen floor. Traumatized by the event, Suzanne attempts to deal with it by piling books on top of herself in order to find out what it felt like not to breathe. She eventually attempts to do so by pulling several bookshelves on top of herself, but luckily, a grieving Brook happens to be nearby, and she quickly alerts the COs. Suzanne is taken to the medical facility, where she discovers that her neighbor in the next bed is Maureen.

Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson[edit]

Danielle Brooks

Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson (played by Danielle Brooks) – Taystee is the black representative on the WAC. She works in the prison library. With coaching from Poussey and a makeover from Sophia, Taystee is paroled from the prison. However, as she has been in institutions most of her life and finds it hard to adapt to the rough life she finds outside the prison walls, she re-offends in violation of her parole and is subsequently sent back to prison. Following her return, she is assigned to the recently vacated bunk of Miss Claudette as Piper's roommate.

Taystee is quite intelligent and well-read, with a strong ability to remember information and an aptitude for business and mathematics that initially helped her become involved in Vee's drug ring. Owing to her time spent in the prison law library, she has accrued a wide knowledge base with regard to the law. Taystee's childhood was a rough one, spent in foster homes, and she was eventually taken in by Vee to help with her heroin business. She has known Vee on the outside for 15 years, and becomes a member of her prison gang in the second season. Eventually, when Poussey's actions damage Vee's business, Vee decides to cut her losses and appease her by expelling Taystee from the group. Finally seeing Vee for what she really is, Taystee later rallies the other black inmates to turn on her former idol. During the third season, Taystee finds herself becoming the leader of her group and ends up having to be the one to keep them in control. Later on in the season, she helps Poussey save Brook Soso after a suicide attempt and welcomes her into their group.

During the fourth season, Taystee finds herself being assigned as Caputo's secretary. She uses her new position to influence some of the decisions Caputo makes on behalf of the inmates, to include convincing him to play The Wiz during movie night. She also convinces Caputo to give her a wristwatch, which none of the other inmates have, and it is later broken by one of the guards. While Caputo was gone, she successfully guessed his computer password and used his computer to surf the Internet. After Poussey died, she was devastated, but refused to take the day off from being Caputo's secretary, offering to call the police for him and trying to convince him to call Poussey's dad. Unknown to Caputo, she was present during the press release announcing Poussey's death and was angered when he stated Bayley wasn't being arrested and when Caputo failed to mention Poussey's name. Following this, she went through the halls shouting that Bayley was being let off, causing an uprising among all of the inmates.

Nicole "Nicky" Nichols[edit]

Natasha Lyonne

Nicky Nichols (played by Natasha Lyonne) – A former drug addict, now Red's most trusted assistant, Nicky is witty and acerbic, with a loud mouth. She swiftly befriends both Piper and Alex, expressing curiosity about what happened between the two of them outside of prison. She is estranged from her mother, a wealthy but extraordinarily selfish socialite who now lives in Brazil. When she was a child, Nicky was raised by a nanny and lived in a separate house from her mother. This estrangement was what initially led to Nicky's drug addiction. Upon arriving in prison, Red had helped her through her worst bouts of cold turkey. For this reason, Nicky has disowned her mother, and now looks up to Red as a mother figure, to the point where she openly calls her "mom" in the presence of other inmates, and Red in turn openly treats her as if she were her daughter. Nicky was involved in a friends-with-benefits relationship with Lorna until Lorna broke it off, which Nicky is bitter about for some time, but she later develops a brief interest in Alex. Nevertheless, Nicky continues to make numerous attempts to get back together with Lorna throughout the series, suggesting that her feelings for her may be romantic. Nicky has a scar on her chest from having heart surgery as a complication of a bacterial infection in her heart, which came from using a dirty needle. Having been clean for two years, Nicky uses sex with the other inmates as a coping mechanism, becoming something of a nymphomaniac in the process. During the second season, Nicky stages a sex-based point scoring competition with Big Boo, during which Nicky even makes advances on Officer Fischer. She gets revenge on Vee for Red's slocking by stealing her stash of heroin, causing her to again face her addiction. In the third season, she attempts to get the stolen heroin out of the prison. She decides to work with Luschek so he could sell it on the outside and split the profits with her. During a surprise inspection, drugs are discovered under Luschek's desk and he blames her for it, causing her to get sent to max. On her way out, she exchanges brief goodbyes with Lorna and Red, and as the prison van pulls up at the facility, Nicky expresses her satisfaction to Tiffany that she will never be able to hurt them or anyone she cares about again, lamenting that, even after kicking her drug addiction, she may never lose her self-destructive tendencies. In Season 4, Nicky is surviving in Max, and celebrates three years sobriety. She is initially shown ending a fling with Stella Carlin after discovering that she is using drugs again, but shortly after, falls off the wagon and starts using them herself. She has also been sending Luschek hate mail, and angrily castigates him when he comes to visit her, attempting to apologise. Eventually, with the help of Judy King, Luschek secures her return to the regular prison, and she has an emotional reunion with Red and Lorna. However, as a result of her relapse, she begins to steal from Red to purchase drugs from the various dealers across the prison, and at the same time makes numerous failed attempts to convince Lorna to restart their relationship. When Red confronts her and breaks down in tears at watching her adoptive daughter destroy herself, as happened with Tricia, Nicky reluctantly agrees to clean herself up again. Unbeknownst to her, Red uses her influence to get all of the prison drug dealers to cut Nicky off, while Pennsatucky provides her with emotional support. She concludes the season clean, however admits to Lorna that she is unhappy and a 'junkie addict liar'.

Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett[edit]

Taryn Manning

Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett (played by Taryn Manning) – Doggett is a former drug addict (meth) originally from Waynesboro, Virginia. Her nickname is a reference to "Pennsyltucky," a slang term for poor rural areas in central Pennsylvania. Tiffany has very bad teeth due to drug abuse, and initially appears to be a fundamentalist Christian. Frequently preaching about God, her religious rants are often laced with racism and hostility. She also caused the ceiling of the prison's chapel to collapse when she tries to hang an oversized cross from an overhead pipe. For a period of time, Tiffany believed that she was blessed with "faith healing" abilities, after being tricked by the other inmates, and eventually gets sent to the psych ward when she attempts to forcibly "heal" a visiting paraplegic juvenile delinquent. Despite this, it is revealed Tiffany was sent to prison for shooting an abortion clinic worker in broad daylight for making a snarky comment about her having had five previous abortions. The local press believed that it was instead because of her religious beliefs – leading to her receiving funding, support, and even a fan base from some pro-life religious groups.

Tiffany dislikes Piper after she is placed on the WAC committee despite Piper not having run for the position, and also has a long-running hostile relationship with Alex, with the two of them clashing frequently. Although it is Piper who gets Tiffany released from the psych ward, Tiffany declares a violent vendetta against Piper, eventually attempting to kill her after Piper rebuffed her religious beliefs, but instead Piper beats her up badly. After the beating she appears to have gotten over her vendetta, presumably because Piper's beating allowed her to get a new set of porcelain teeth at the expense of the prison. Tiffany loses her religious fervor, becoming more easy-going and moderate in her beliefs after attending regular counseling sessions with Healy. Nevertheless, her old friends are now unafraid to stand up to her, and abandon her, leaving her on her own. Ultimately, she finds an unlikely friend in Big Boo, who has also been abandoned by her friends, and Tiffany subsequently cuts her hair short on Boo's advice.

After the prison's van is stolen, Tiffany replaces Lorna as the prison's van driver and begins a friendship with Charlie "Donuts" Coates, a new guard who initially seems friendly but exhibits unsettling behavior when they are alone. Later, after Coates gets reprimanded by Caputo and put on probation for missing count, he rapes Tiffany in the prison van. Through flashbacks, it is shown she has a warped view of sex due to her upbringing, having prostituted herself for six-packs of soda, and that she was repeatedly raped in the past to the point she no longer fights back. At one point Tiffany had developed a non-abusive romance with a boy called Nathan, but the relationship ended after he was forced to move away with his parents to Wyoming. Big Boo - now her closest friend - devises a plan to get revenge for Coates' actions, but they decide not to go through with it. In order to prevent future rapes, Tiffany fakes a seizure while driving and gets off van detail. However, she sees that Maritza Ramos is her replacement, realizing that she may have provided Coates with a more naive and vulnerable victim.

In season 4, Tiffany remains worried that Coates is raping Maritza, and continues to avoid him. Over the course of the season, Coates becomes perturbed when Tiffany continually acts coldly and angrily towards him, and eventually confronts her to ask why. She responds by asking him whether he is having sex with Maritza, and when he is confused by the question, she tells him that she wants to make sure he is not raping her, as he did with her. Coates is genuinely shocked by this disclosure. He later offers her an apology, and Tiffany decides to accept and forgive him. Unfortunately, this costs her her friendship with Boo, although she later makes amends and convinces Boo that she forgave Coates for herself, and not for him. Later, when Coates tells her that he is planning to quit his job, due to the horrors that he has witnessed at the prison, she tries to persuade him not to go, and kisses him. He initially returns it, but stops himself from initiating sex, telling her that he does not want to make the same mistake again, and that he is leaving anyway.

Dayanara "Daya" Diaz[edit]

Dascha Polanco

Dayanara "Daya" Diaz (played by Dascha Polanco) – A Puerto Rican inmate with artistic talents. She is the daughter of Aleida Diaz, with whom she has a strained relationship, as her mother often ignored her and her sisters as young girls in favor of going out and partying. Daya is often criticized by her fellow Hispanic inmates because she cannot speak fluent Spanish. She develops a romantic relationship with prison guard John Bennett and becomes pregnant with his child. Knowing that Bennett could be imprisoned for her pregnancy, Daya joins forces with Red to trick Mendez into having sex with her so that he can be blamed for her pregnancy. During the second season, she is shown to be increasingly hormonal and emotional due to the pregnancy, a contrast from her sweet demeanor in the first season. She begins to believe that Bennett should serve time for her pregnancy in order to allow them to be together and raise their child after they are both released.

In the third season, Bennett proposes to her, and she expects for them to have a relationship after she is released. However, after a meeting with Cesar, Bennett appears to abandon Daya and the baby. Distraught and hopeless, she decides to give her child up for adoption to Mendez's mother Delia. Instead, Aleida tricks Delia into thinking the baby died during childbirth, while in reality the child was given to Cesar. However, Cesar's home is soon raided by the DEA and Daya's child is taken away. Daya is concerned about the fate of her child during season four, after finding out Cesar was sent to prison, and is worried that her child will get lost in the foster care system. With her mother being released, she decides that she wants to start hanging out with women closer to her age, resulting in her going to the salon and working with Maria and her group, in spite of the concerns of Gloria Mendoza who promised Aleida that she would take care of Daya. At the end of the fourth season, she is in the middle of the riot that was started when Taystee informed the rest of the inmates that Bayley wasn't arrested for Poussey's death. Officer Humphrey attempts to pull out a smuggled gun and is pushed over by Maritza, causing it to fall in front of Daya. She grabs it and orders Humphrey and Officer McCullough to their knees, while most of the other inmates present loudly cheer her on and urge her to shoot Humphrey.

Lorna Morello[edit]

Yael Stone

Lorna Morello (played by Yael Stone) – A hyperfeminine and often racist Italian-American inmate, with a strong accent that inexplicably mixes regional features from both New York City and Boston.[3] Lorna is the first inmate that Piper talks to, since she was in charge of driving the van that transports inmates, and she helps Piper acclimate in her first few days. She had a casual sex relationship with her friend Nicky Nichols, but broke it off due to feelings that she was cheating on her "fiancé" Christopher. It is eventually revealed that Christopher was a man whom she had obsessively stalked and threatened at the same time that she was running a mail-order scam, and the reason she was in prison. Lorna also gets caught in the middle of Pornstache and Red's drug-smuggling operations. When she is left alone during a driving errand while Miss Rosa is at a chemotherapy appointment, she drives to Christopher's house and breaks in. While there, she takes a bath wearing his fiancée's wedding veil and falls asleep, waking up just in time to escape before she is seen. Christopher suspects her for the break-in, and later visits the prison to confront and threaten her, finally shattering her obsessive delusions. At the end of the second season, Lorna allows Rosa to steal the van after finding out that she only had a few weeks to live so that she wouldn't die in prison. In the third season, she becomes depressed and lonely after being relieved of her duties as the van driver. To cope, as well as to get extra commissary money, she decides to start writing to multiple men. After visiting with several different men, she starts a relationship with a man named Vince "Vinny" Muccio. As the two get closer, Lorna manipulates Vince into gathering some of his friends and beating Christopher up. Eventually, Lorna and Vince get married in the prison's visitor center and they consummate their marriage in the visitor's snack room. In season 4, Lorna is angered when nobody has any reaction to the news that she is married. It is soon pointed out to her that she actually knows almost nothing about her new husband, and she realizes that it may well be true when she is asked what his favorite color is and cannot answer. She later discovers while talking to Vinny on the phone that he lives with his parents, but is not perturbed. Nevertheless, she begins to annoy and disturb the inmates with her open phone sex conversations, including in the visiting room. She is overjoyed at Nicky's return from max, but declines when Nicky tries to convince her to restart their relationship. In the later part of the season, she begins to suspect that Vinny is cheating on her with her sister, despite her having asked her sister to go and visit him herself, and ends up angrily accusing both of infidelity. Subsequently, when Red pairs her with Nicky to search the grounds in order to keep them busy, she has to fend Nicky off once again, but eventually confesses through tears that she is destroying her relationship and is powerless to stop herself.

Gloria Mendoza[edit]

Selenis Leyva

Gloria Mendoza (played by Selenis Leyva) – Red's opposite number among the Hispanic and Latina inmates, though with no organized crime connections. She is a mother of two boys. She organizes domino games and looks out for the other inmates, either by giving advice or by performing Santeria spells (which she refers to as "Catholic plus") for them. She is often critical of Daya's inability to speak Spanish but still accepts her as one of her own. Despite this, she tricks Daya into drinking a concoction that makes her feel sick, at the request of Aleida. When Red is put under investigation after her smuggling operation's cover is blown, Gloria becomes the new head cook, and some inmates prefer her breakfast cooking. Red tries to sabotage Gloria's kitchen operations, but fails to discourage her replacement. At the end of the first season, it is shown that Gloria is starving out Red in a similar way that Red did to Piper at the beginning of the series. During the second season, her backstory reveals that she was a frequent victim of domestic abuse. As she was planning to run from her abusive boyfriend, she was arrested for fraud for allowing customers to exchange food stamps for money at the store she ran and keeping some of the money for herself. She is shown as compassionate and easily susceptible to other's feelings, as she forgave her boyfriend repeatedly, and fell for Vee's charms at the beginning of the season. Upon learning that Norma is plotting to poison Vee, Gloria convinces her to use Santeria to get back at her instead. She also spends the initial part of the season competing with Aleida to be a motherly figure to Daya, but after embarrassing her in front of Bennett, she realizes that it is a job they both do well. In the third season, she is upset after discovering that her son is becoming disrespectful and is failing his classes. She demands that he comes to visit with his homework every week and asks Sophia to allow him to ride with her son when he is doing his weekly visits. After Sophia cuts off the relationship in response to what she saw as Gloria's son being a bad influence, the two have a confrontation in the bathroom, resulting in Sophia pushing Gloria to the ground. Gloria quits working in the kitchen and later feels guilty because Aleida started spreading rumors about Sophia that caused her to get attacked in her hair salon and put in the SHU allegedly for her own safety. In the fourth season, she is shown working with Sister Jane Ingalls to get Sophia out of SHU. When Sophia returns, Gloria attempts to make amends with her. Before Aleida is released from prison, she tells Gloria to be a mother figure to Daya and to keep her out of trouble. Gloria is clearly concerned when Daya begins spending time with Maria's crew.

Cindy "Black Cindy" Hayes[edit]

Adrienne C. Moore

Cindy "Black Cindy" Hayes (played by Adrienne C. Moore) – A bubbly, laid-back and perpetually cheerful inmate, 'Black' Cindy is seen often with the other black inmates. During Taystee's time on the outside, she is seen more frequently joking around with Poussey. Her back story is explained more in the second season, where it is revealed that she worked for the TSA and occasionally stole items from the luggage of travelers. It is shown that she also had a nine-year-old daughter named Monica who was raised by her mother under the pretense that Cindy was her older sister. She is shown to shirk her responsibilities; in one instance, she took her daughter out for ice cream, only to leave her in the car for hours after she spontaneously decided to hang out with some friends. In the third season, she decides to pretend to be Jewish as a response to the inferior food quality resulting from the budget cuts so she can get better tasting kosher meals. After the prison brings in a rabbi to discover who is really Jewish and ends up being outed as a faker, she decides to convert for real and completes her conversion by performing a ritual immersion, using the lake behind the prison as a mikveh. In the beginning of season four, she gets involved in an escalating turf war with her new inmate, Alison Abdullah, who is an observant Muslim, during which the two frequently trade barbs about their respective religions. However, they begin to get along and Abdullah joins Cindy's group of friends.

Joseph Salvatore "Joe" Caputo[edit]

Nick Sandow

Joseph Salvatore "Joe" Caputo (played by Nick Sandow) – One of the administrative officials in the prison. Caputo is initially portrayed as a sleazy character who believes in keeping the inmates dehumanized and who masturbates in his office immediately after his first encounter with Piper. Later, it becomes clear that he genuinely seeks to rehabilitate the inmates and run the prison properly and ethically. He doesn't tolerate corruption, inefficiency, and sexual exploitation, later telling Bennett while berating him for impregnating Daya that he masturbates to control any urges to sleep with one of the inmates. It is shown through flashbacks in the third season that Caputo's desire to do the right thing has always been met with ingratitude and bad results for him. Prior to working at the prison, he quit his band to raise his girlfriend's daughter - who was conceived with one of his band-mates while they were separated - only for them to become successful while he got stuck in a low-paid job in the prison service, and his wife selfishly left him for her daughter's father. Throughout the first season, Caputo appeared to have romantic feelings for the new recruit to the staff, Susan Fischer. However, when she did not return the feelings, Caputo became upset and fired her during an argument. He is easily the most competent of the prison staff, being more than capable of dealing with crises without being appeasing or oppressive – on one occasion, upon finding out that there is a hunger strike in the prison, he goes to the strikers directly and tells them straight that most of their demands are either unreasonable or are being resolved independently, without then sending them to the SHU. In addition, he is unafraid to challenge people who are being unreasonable, routinely lashing out at Figueroa for her austere methods, and Healy for his lesbian witch hunt. He also plays bass guitar in a band called "Side Boob," and attempts to grow plants as a therapeutic hobby. Caputo is also seen to be very ambitious, and desired to move up the ladder to eventually become warden. When Piper finds evidence of Figueroa embezzling funds from the prison, Caputo uses it to force her resignation and he becomes the new assistant warden.

Although Caputo wished to be seen as a more providing and kinder warden that his predecessor, he soon learned that Litchfield was to close with the prisoners transferred and all the staff fired. Desperate to save his job and those of his co-workers, he convinces Figueroa to give him details on how to make Litchfield desirable to the Management & Correction Corporation, a private investor. This works, and although Litchfield is saved, Caputo became a figurehead who reported to Danny Pearson, the son of one of MCC's senior executives, and is forced to endure severe budget cuts like low-quality pre-packed food and his staff being reduced to part-time while under-qualified staff with minimum training were brought in to fill the void, resulting in many serious mistakes. Around this time, Caputo begins an affair with Figueroa in order to relieve his self-hate at all the compromises he is being forced to make. Due to the incumbent staff angry at their hours and wages being cut as well as being expelled from their union due to working for a private company, Caputo suggests they form their own union and agrees to lead it. When Sophia is seriously assaulted by other inmates while the CO on duty runs off in a panic, she threatens the prison with a lawsuit. As a result, Sophia is taken into "protective custody," which is actually just her being thrown into isolation as punishment for her threat to sue. Caputo and Pearson argue with the latter's father against this unfair treatment, and his frustration results in Pearson quitting. Later, while in bed with Figueroa, she reminds him that his constant efforts to help others have only ever held him back, and tells him that he should start looking after his own interests more - that, instead of fighting for his employees, none of whom have shown him any gratitude for his efforts, he should instead try and advance his own interests within the corporation. In response, Caputo filled Pearson's position and immediately broke up the union causing most of the older, more experienced staff to immediately go on strike.

At the beginning of the fourth season, he is forced to call for reinforcements from max to replace the guards that walked out while the prisoners escaped and started playing in the lake outside of the prison. During the crisis, he is informed that Judy King arrived and is instructed to give her special treatment by MCC, partly to ensure she is given no opportunity to sue the prison after her release, and partly to create leverage over her in the event that she decides to do so. He appoints Desi Piscatella, one of the guards from max, as the new captain of the guards after the crisis is over. During a meeting at MCC, he recommends using veterans to supplement personnel and to house them near the prison in the existing housing to save money. He also meets Linda, an executive he starts a relationship with and appoints Taystee as his secretary at Linda's suggestion. He is repeatedly confronted by Crystal, Sophia's wife, and eventually uses a smuggled cell phone to anonymously show proof that Sophia is in the SHU, resulting in her being returned to general population. He proposes to Linda that the prison should offer college classes to the inmates, only to be disappointed when Linda informs him that MCC replaced the common core classes with labor-intensive classes that are just a front to make the inmates do unpaid labor. After Aydin's remains are found in the garden, he orders the guards not to interrogate the inmates and to let the FBI handle the situation when they arrive. Following Caputo's departure, Piscatella promptly ignores his orders and the following morning, he threatens to pull all of his guards if Caputo attempts to suspend any of them for their actions. After Poussey's death, he sends Piscatella home and attempts to convince MCC to call the police. He is ordered to wait until MCC can find a way to relieve the company of any blame for wrongdoing, and then finds out that the company wants to turn Bayley into a scapegoat. Prior to a press conference to announce Poussey's death, he calls her father to inform him of her death. Following this, against orders from MCC, he absolves Bayley of any intentional wrongdoing while neglecting to mention Poussey's name during the press conference, causing the prisoners to riot after Taystee overhears the press conference and spreads the word to the other inmates.

Carrie "Big Boo" Black[edit]

Lea DeLaria

Carrie "Big Boo" Black (played by Lea DeLaria) – A prison inmate and lesbian, she has had several "wives" during her incarceration. Tricia and Boo have had problems in the past fighting over a girl. She has Piper helping her write a letter for her appeal and takes the missing screwdriver from Piper's bunk unbeknownst to Piper, which she uses to aid in masturbation. She later returns the screwdriver to Piper when Piper becomes stressed over the fact that Tiffany is threatening to kill her. During the first season, Boo is often accompanied by a dog she named "Little Boo." She got rid of the dog by the second season, saying things were getting "weird." It is implied Boo considered using the dog to stimulate herself sexually. She later participates in a competition with Nicky to see who can have sex with the most inmates. Boo has little loyalty to anyone and, trying to ingratiate herself with the powerful Vee, betrays Red by telling Vee about the tunnel. As a result, she is shunned by Red's family, and Vee rejects her for snitching. Afterwards, she strikes up an unlikely friendship with Tiffany — which soon develops to be a close bond — and, when Red is hospitalized following an assault by Vee, Boo helps Nicky locate and hide Vee's drug stash. During the third season, she is inspired when she realizes that Tiffany is getting donations from numerous religious groups and decides to pretend to renounce homosexuality in order to get a similar support base. However, when she is speaking to a reverend that openly disparages homosexuals she is unable to continue her ruse and angrily insults him in retaliation.

In flashbacks, it is shown that, as a teenager, her parents — particularly her mother — had strongly disapproved of her tomboyish dress sense and appearance and attempted to force her to be more feminine. By the time she was forty, she had adopted a "butch" self-image which she protected militantly, but at the same time struggled to contain her inner anger and rage at the world brought on by these experiences, and she had become completely estranged from her parents. At one point, in a conversation with Tiffany, she expresses the view that one should not allow one's beliefs to destroy relationships, as she herself holds deep regret and guilt for having never made peace with, or even attempting to say goodbye to her mother before she died. Later in the series, she attempts to console Tiffany after discovering that she was raped by Coates. She comes up with a plan to get revenge by anally raping him with a broomstick but Tiffany is unable to go through with it. She later witnesses Piper framing Stella as revenge for stealing the money from the used panty business and cannot help but be impressed by her ruthless action.

Marisol "Flaca" Gonzales[edit]

Marisol "Flaca" Gonzales (played by Jackie Cruz) – One of the Hispanic inmates, she is close friends with Maritza. She has a teardrop drawn under one of her eyes as well as eyeliner in the style of Amy Winehouse and fringes (bangs) in a blunt style;[4] according to Cruz the teardrop is in the wrong location.[5]

She is shown to be rather misinformed, if not totally dim at times, genuinely believing that black people cannot float due to their bone density. This leads to Maritza stating that her head is full of "caca" and Aleida referring to her as "Flacaca". She appears to be a goth, wearing gothic makeup and being obsessed with such bands as The Smiths and Depeche Mode. She is also somewhat aggressive, getting into a brawl with Taystee over an ice-cream cone. She and Maritza have a very close friendship, and on Valentine's Day in the second season, the two have an intimate conversation about their lack of love in the prison, and end up kissing passionately. After initially laughing at what has just happened, a shocked Flaca becomes upset and begins to cry, while Maritza consoles her. During the third season, Flaca's backstory is revealed as a high-school student that sold fake acid to students. One student ended up believing it so much that he jumped off the roof of the school and ended up nearly dying. Flaca was thus arrested for fraud, and endangerment, despite her belief that she did nothing illegal as the blotters were only placebos. At the prison, she becomes a part of Piper's used underwear business. Discovering that Piper was making a large amount of money selling the panties on the outside, she organizes a protest with the other women to get a larger cut of the profits. Piper agrees to her demands but fires her in revenge. Later, she is able to convince Piper to allow her to participate in the business again so that she can use the money to help pay for her mother's lymphoma treatment.

Cruz stated that Flaca is "a different type of Latina" who is "[m]ore realistic" compared to a hyper-photogenic "sexy, beautiful, Sofia Vergara type, with the accent."[4] Cruz explained, "Maybe the way she was raised might be similar to others, but what she likes is very awesome."[4] According to Cruz, Flaca was originally going to be used to say a few lines in each episode, and that Aleida was supposed to consider Maritza her "daughter" with the two of them being closer together. According to Cruz, the writers liked Cruz's performance and also liked Flaca and Maritza's chemistry. Therefore they asked for her character to become more prominent. Cruz stated that she is real life friends with Diane Guerrero, Maritza's actress, and suggested that this may have contributed to the on-screen friendship. Cruz added that in regards to Flaca's background, she had believed "Flaca was a little more gangster, but you can see she's not" and that Flaca "was very sweet, very vulnerable, a good person" who was forced to adopt a tougher persona upon being incarcerated.[5]

Aleida Diaz[edit]

Elizabeth Rodriguez

Aleida Diaz (played by Elizabeth Rodriguez) – Daya's mother. She was incarcerated for helping her boyfriend Cesar with his drug dealing business and taking the blame for him. In flashbacks, it is shown that she had little concern for her children and was obsessed with her boyfriend. She says during a visitation that she is upset that he won't visit her. She treats Daya rudely in the prison, and goes so far as to attempt to seduce Bennett to make Daya angry. She later shows a softer side and advises Daya to have her baby, even going so far as to concoct a plan to allow Bennett to keep his job. She also finds herself competing with Gloria to care for Daya during the more difficult times of her pregnancy, finally forcing her to take on a maternal role in her daughter's life. She has high status among the other Hispanic inmates. During the second season, she battles with Gloria to be a mother to Daya, and manipulates Bennett to bring in contraband from the outside hidden in his prosthetic leg. During the third season, she attempts to convince Daya to give her unborn child to Pornstache's mother Delia so that she would have a better life and to get a monthly payment from her. Later, she decides that it would be better for Daya to keep her baby and tells Delia that Daya's baby died during childbirth while in reality Cesar picked up the child. Despite this, her cruel and vindictive side is shown when she spreads deliberately untrue and transphobic rumors about Sophia to the other inmates in response to a fight between her and Gloria, resulting in Sophia being attacked by the other inmates, something which weighs heavily on Gloria's conscience. During the fourth season, Aleida is informed that she is eligible for parole and she asks Gloria to watch over Daya after her release. After she is released, she is picked up by Cesar's girlfriend Margarita. While in a restaurant, Margarita tells her that Cesar got her pregnant, and after becoming upset at the revelation, she yells at a man she believes was profiling her. She gets into an argument with Margarita in a clothing store after finding out that she wasn't planning to stay faithful to Cesar while he was in prison, and walks out on her. Later that day, after finding out that her cousin Jazmina spent her money sock on bail and an ER visit, she goes back to Margarita's apartment and states that she has nowhere else to go. At the end of the season, she is watching the press conference announcing the death of an inmate with Margarita, and becomes concerned for Daya's well being since Caputo didn't mention the deceased inmate's name on the air.

Poussey Washington[edit]

Samira Wiley

Poussey Washington (played by Samira Wiley) – An often good-natured and joking inmate, who is best friends with Taystee. During the first season finale, she is revealed to have a great singing voice, and performs an improvised rendition of Amazing Grace. Flashbacks during the second season reveal that she is a military brat, and that her father, who was an officer in the United States Army, would often move her family across the world for assignments. While her father was stationed in Germany, she had a sexual relationship with the daughter of one of her father's German superior officers. When the relationship was discovered, it was implied that the German officer had her father reassigned to a post in the United States. This led to Poussey trying to kill him before being stopped by her father, who subsequently defended her homosexuality from him. In the present, it is implied that she is in love with Taystee, who does not return her feelings on account of being straight, but does make an effort to be gentle with her about this. After failing to get her to market her moonshine, Vee begins to antagonize Poussey, mostly out of jealousy of her closeness to Taystee, and partly out of implied homophobia. She separates Poussey and Taystee, causing a rift in their relationship.

She is one of the few black inmates not to fall for Vee's charms, and begins a long campaign to fight her throughout the season. Vee's numerous efforts to force her to back down, including gentle coaxing, threats and even a violent beating from Suzanne are unsuccessful. Eventually, Poussey causes irreparable damage to Vee's tobacco business by smashing up an entire batch of tobacco and pouring bleach on it, and Vee, realizing that no amount of intimidation will stop her, and killing her would be an overreaction, decides to remove her reason for fighting her by ejecting Taystee from the gang. The two later make up after a physical fight in the library, and work together to turn the other black inmates against Vee. In the third season, she has become obsessed with trying to discover who was stealing her moonshine and starts to set traps to catch what she believed was a squirrel stealing it. Feeling depressed, lonely and in need of a girlfriend, she joins Norma's "cult," although she later ends up leaving when she becomes unsatisfied with them. While in the library to help herself to some of her hooch, she discovers Brook passed out from a drug overdose. Realizing that Brook will be taken to psych if the truth is known, she takes the foils and gets Taystee and Suzanne instead of the CO's. On Taystee's recommendation, they induce vomiting to purge the medication and try to keep Brook from falling asleep at breakfast the next morning. Once Brook has recovered, the African American gang welcomes her into their circle of friends. Poussey later confronts Norma's cult for the way they treated Brook, and threatens Leanne.

During the fourth season, her relationship with Brook becomes romantic and she becomes excited at the prospect of meeting Judy King, the cooking show host that was sent to Litchfield for tax fraud she was a big fan of. After several awkward moments between her and Judy, she finally sits down with her in the cafeteria due to Brook arranging a meeting with her, only to discover that, in describing her to Judy, Brook had made numerous racist assumptions about her, which demonstrates how little they actually know about each other. Eventually, she accepts Brook's apology, and the two begin anew, and before too long, it becomes clear that they have fallen in love. She later finds herself helping Judy after her friends were angry about a racist puppet show that Judy filmed in the 80s, that ended up being leaked on YouTube. Judy later offers Poussey a job once she gets out of prison, ensuring she will have something to look forward to. During a protest in the cafeteria, Poussey is caught in a scuffle with Officer Bayley, who tries to restrain her while fighting off an erratic Suzanne by pressing her into the ground and putting his knee over her. Unable to breathe in this position, Poussey dies of asphyxiation, shocking the other inmates and leaving Bayley traumatized. Due to MCC trying to remove liability from the company for her death, they ordered Caputo not to call the police until they could find a way to make Poussey look like she was at fault, before deciding to switch blame to Bayley and portray him as a rogue guard when they had difficulty conjuring up such an image of her, as she came from a respectable family, her charge was for a non-violent offense, and she was a model inmate. As a result, her body stays in the cafeteria overnight and is not removed until the following afternoon.[6]

She was named after the town of Poussay in Northeastern France, where her father was stationed when she was born, and often finds herself on the receiving end of mockery by the other inmates because of its alternative pronunciation.

Reviewer Joanna Robinson commented that Poussey's death was inspired by that of Eric Garner.[7][8] Reviewer Crystal Bell likened Poussey's death to the deaths of Sandra Bland and Michael Brown, because of the following details: Caputo not saying Poussey's name during the press conference and the fact that her body was left on the cafeteria floor for almost an entire day, respectively.[9]

Prior to production on Season 4 began, Kohan and the writers informed Wiley that her character was going to die, but no other cast members knew. Wiley kept this secret during much of the production.[10] According to Wiley, the writers decided Poussey would die because she was a character who was "really loved and people really cared about".[11] According to Lauren Morelli, Kohan stated that a character who would have a bright future outside of prison ought to be chosen since viewers would understand the loss of that person's potential. A character the viewer never expected much from would thus not have the same impact.[11]

Maria Ruiz[edit]

Maria Ruiz (played by Jessica Pimentel) – An inmate of Dominican descent who acts as the Hispanic representative for WAC, and was pregnant at the beginning of the series. When she goes into labor she is taken to a hospital, and later returns to the prison after having her newborn taken away from her, which elicits sympathy from her fellow inmates. She describes Daya and Aleida's relationship as a "cautionary tale" and states that a minute with them is better than Plan B, as she would never talk to her daughter the way Aleida does toward Daya, or allow her daughter to talk to her the way Daya does Aleida. During the second season, she is visited several times by her stoic, quiet boyfriend Yadriel and her child. When it appears she will be transferred to a prison in Virginia, she begs him to be a good, proactive parent and speak to their child more, and later confides in Piper that she is afraid he will be too weak to be faithful during her entire sentence. However, in the second-season finale, she is last seen being visited by her boyfriend and her daughter, happy to see that he is taking a deeper role as a father and apparently plans to stay true to her. During the third season, she is devastated when Yadriel decides not to bring her daughter to the prison anymore, with him saying that he doesn't want her to think that is normal for her mother to be in prison as she got older. In the fourth season, it is revealed that her father was a drug dealer who cared for her enormously in the early years of her life. She first met Yadriel when she saw him throwing his drugs into a bush while being pursued by the police, and later returned them to him. Their subsequent relationship angered her father, both because Maria was effectively dating his competition, and because, as an intensely patriotic Dominican, he did not approve of his daughter dating a Mexican. Eventually, after an explosive argument, the two permanently fell out. In the present, Maria began to organize a new gang amongst the other Dominican inmates, in order to fight back against the overt racism of the guards. After attempting to get involved in Piper's business, Maria was angered by her rude response, and formed a rival business of her own, which immediately snapped up many of Piper's employees. When Piper blows the whistle on her, Piscatella recommends that her sentence is extended, and Maria responds by having her gang seize Piper, take her to the kitchen and brand her with a swastika, which also serves as retaliation for her accidental creation of a White Power prison gang. Maria's gang start distributing drugs instead, and secures her a position of power in the prison. However, as the guards begin to get increasingly violent and draconian, Maria starts to use her power to help protect and rally the other inmates. Upon the discovery of Aydin's body, she is separated from the other inmates, along with Ouija and Blanca, for further questioning. She is initially amused by Officer Humphrey's prank on Kasey Sankey, but is shocked when he then escalates it into a fight between Suzanne and Maureen Kukudio. When Suzanne becomes unhinged and beats Maureen almost to death, Maria finally has enough and, with Ouija's help, manages to pull Suzanne off Maureen and comforts her.

In season 5, Maria takes advantage of the prison riot to strengthen her gang's position, and becomes one of its main leaders. She offers Daya guidance in handling her newfound status, due to her being the one with the gun, but continues to suggest she give it to her. She also organises a meeting of all the inmates with the intended purpose of humiliating and degrading the guards that have been taken hostage. However, after a conversation with Caputo, Maria discovers that, contrary to her own understanding, Piscatella could not unilaterally extend her sentence, that he didn't actually get round to making his recommendation to extend her sentence before the riot began, and even if he had, she would have had to personally attend a court hearing before any extension could be made. Suddenly worried, Maria joins Piper and Alex's riot abstention crew, and focuses on keeping her head down. Upon learning that Gloria has made a deal with MCC to get furlough in return for releasing the hostages, Maria betrays her confidence and releases them herself. Initially outraged upon learning that she cannot benefit from Gloria's deal, MCC compromises by allowing her a visit from Yadriel and her daughter.

Maria lived with Yadriel after her family disowned her for associating with him.[12] According to Pimentel Maria, originally "She kept her head down, did her work and didn’t get too involved" while she had visits with her child, but once those were taken away she became "a gangster with an -er".[13]

Recurring cast[edit]

Appearances[edit]

Actor Character Seasons
1 2 3 4 5
Main cast
Taylor Schilling Piper Chapman Main
Laura Prepon Alex Vause Main Recurring Main
Michael Harney Sam Healy Main
Michelle Hurst Miss Claudette Pelage Main
Kate Mulgrew Galina "Red" Reznikov Main
Jason Biggs Larry Bloom Main Guest
Uzo Aduba Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren Recurring Main
Danielle Brooks Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson Recurring Main
Natasha Lyonne Nicky Nichols Recurring Main Recurring Main
Taryn Manning Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett Recurring Main
Selenis Leyva Gloria Mendoza Recurring Main
Adrienne C. Moore Cindy "Black Cindy" Hayes Recurring Main
Dascha Polanco Dayanara "Daya" Diaz Recurring Main
Nick Sandow Joe Caputo Recurring Main
Yael Stone Lorna Morello Recurring Main
Samira Wiley Poussey Washington Recurring Main Guest
Jackie Cruz Marisol "Flaca" Gonzales Recurring Main
Lea DeLaria Carrie "Big Boo" Black Recurring Main
Elizabeth Rodriguez Aleida Diaz Recurring Main
Jessica Pimentel Maria Ruiz Recurring Main
Recurring cast
Madeline Brewer Tricia Miller Recurring
Brendan Burke Wade Donaldson Recurring Guest
Michael Chernus Cal Chapman Recurring Guest
Tracee Chimo Neri Feldman Recurring
Berto Colon Cesar Velazquez Recurring Guest
Laverne Cox Sophia Burset Recurring
Catherine Curtin Wanda Bell Recurring Guest
Maria Dizzia Polly Harper Recurring
Lolita Foster Elique Maxwell Recurring
Beth Fowler Sister Jane Ingalls Recurring
Annie Golden Norma Romano Recurring
Laura Gomez Blanca Flores Recurring
Diane Guerrero Maritza Ramos Recurring
Vicky Jeudy Janae Watson Recurring
Patricia Kalember Marka Nichols Guest Recurring
Julie Lake Angie Rice Recurring
Lauren Lapkus Susan Fischer Recurring
Joel Marsh Garland Scott O'Neill Recurring Guest
Matt McGorry John Bennett Recurring
Emma Myles Leanne Taylor Recurring
Matt Peters Joel Luschek Recurring
Alysia Reiner Natalie "Fig" Figueroa Recurring Guest Recurring
Barbara Rosenblat Rosa "Miss Rosa" Cisneros Recurring Guest
Deborah Rush Carol Chapman Recurring Guest
Abigail Savage Gina Murphy Recurring
Pablo Schreiber George "Pornstache" Mendez Recurring Guest Guest
Kaipo Schwab Igme Dimaguiba Recurring
Constance Shulman Erica "Yoga" Jones Recurring
Nick Stevenson Pete Harper Recurring
Lori Tan Chinn Mei Chang Recurring
Tamara Torres Weeping Woman Recurring
Lin Tucci Anita DeMarco Recurring
Tanya Wright Crystal Burset Recurring
Hamilton Clancy Kowalski Recurring
Yvette Freeman Irma Lerman Recurring Guest
Germar Terrell Gardner Charles Ford Recurring
Kimiko Glenn Brook Soso Recurring
Olivia Luccardi Jennifer Digori Guest Recurring
Ian Paola Yadriel Recurring Guest Recurring
Lori Petty Lolly Whitehill Guest Recurring
Dale Soules Frieda Berlin Recurring
Judith Roberts Taslitz Recurring Guest
Lorraine Toussaint Yvonne "Vee" Parker Recurring
Alan Aisenberg Baxter "Gerber" Bayley Recurring
Emily Althaus Maureen Kukudio Recurring
Mike Birbiglia Danny Pearson Recurring
Marsha Stephanie Blake Berdie Rogers Recurring
Blair Brown Judy King Recurring
Michael Bryan French Jack Pearson Recurring
Danielle Herbert Jeanie "Babs" Babson Recurring Guest
John Magaro Vince Muccio Recurring
James McMenamin Charlie "Donuts" Coates Recurring
Ruby Rose Stella Carlin Recurring Guest
Mary Steenburgen Delia Mendez-Powell Recurring Guest
Beth Dover Linda Ferguson Guest Recurring
Rosal Colon Ouija Azizia Recurring
Francesca Curran Helen "Skinhead Helen" Van Maele Recurring
Asia Kate Dillon Brandy Epps Recurring
Shannon Esper Alana Dwight Recurring
Evan Hall B. Stratman Recurring
Brad William Henke Desi Piscatella Recurring
Mike Houston Lee Dixon Recurring
Daniella De Jesus Zirconia Recurring
Kelly Kabarcz Kasey Sankey Recurring
Miriam Morales Ramona Pidge Recurring
Jolene Purdy Stephanie Hapakuka Recurring
Amanda Stephen Alison Abdullah Recurring
Arianda Fernandez Michelle Carreras Recurring
Emily Tarver Artesian McCullough Recurring
Michael Torpey Thomas Humphrey Recurring
John Palladino Josh Guest Recurring
Gerrard Lobo Adarsh Recurring

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (July 22, 2011). "Netflix Eyeing Second Original Series – Comedy From Weeds Creator Jenji Kohan". Deadline.com. Retrieved June 11, 2015. 
  2. ^ Le Vine, Lauren (June 12, 2015). "Orange Is The New Black Binge Club: Season 3 Recaps". Refinery29. Retrieved July 25, 2015. 
  3. ^ Greco, Patti (2014). "Orange Is the New Black's Yael Stone on Lorna's Sad and Disturbing Backstory". Hearst Communications, Inc. 
  4. ^ a b c Van Syckle, Katie (2014-06-19). "Why Orange Is the New Black’s Flaca Is So Important". Vulture.com. Retrieved 2017-06-03. 
  5. ^ a b Nunez, Alanna (2015-06-24). "OITNB's Jackie Cruz on Flaca's Heartbreaking Backstory and How "Flaritza" Came to Be". Cosmpolitan. Retrieved 2017-06-03.  "We'd joke about flirting with each other, and then it was like, they'd write that in a scene. We hang out all the time, we're actual friends. Actually, I don't know if that's the reason, I'm just guessing. [Laughs.]"
  6. ^ Schwartz, Ryan (2016). "Orange Is the New Black Finale Recap: Fight the Power — Plus: Who Dies?". TVLine. 
  7. ^ Robinson, Joanna. "Orange Is the New Black Just Made All Other TV Deaths This Year Look Cheap." Vanity Fair. June 20, 2016. Retrieved on June 23, 2016.
  8. ^ Vilkomerson, Sara. "Orange Is the New Black actress on shocking season 4 scene." Entertainment Weekly. June 20, 2016. Retrieved on June 23, 2016. "The way Poussey dies felt reminiscent of Eric Garner,[...]it’s an homage, in a way, of Eric Garner’s death."
  9. ^ Bell, Crystal. "Orange Is The New Black’s Heartbreaking Death Will Change Litchfield As We Know It." MTV. June 21, 2016. Retrieved on June 26, 2016.
  10. ^ Fernandez, Maria Elena. "Orange Is the New Black’s Samira Wiley on Poussey’s Devastating Scene, Black Lives Matter, and Looking Straight Into the Camera" (Archive). Vulture.com. June 17, 2016. Retrieved on June 29, 2016.
  11. ^ a b Shattuck, Kathryn. "Samira Wiley, of ‘Orange Is the New Black,’ on Poussey’s Big Episode" (Archive). The New York Times. June 21, 2016. Retrieved on June 29, 2016.
  12. ^ "How the Orange is the New Black inmates ended up in prison ." The Daily Telegraph. June 22, 2016. Retrieved on July 1, 2016.
  13. ^ "'OITNB' Star on Maria's "Stomach-Turning" Revenge on Piper: "I Hope People Were Horrified"." The Hollywood Reporter. June 30, 2016. Retrieved on July 3, 2016.