Samira Wiley

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Samira Wiley
Samira Wiley 13.jpg
Wiley in 2013
Born Samira Denise Wiley
(1987-04-15) April 15, 1987 (age 29)[1]
Washington, D.C.
Alma mater Juilliard School
Occupation Actress, model
Years active 2011 (2011)–present
Partner(s) Lauren Morelli (2014 (2014)–present)

Samira Denise Wiley (born April 15, 1987)[1] is an American actress and model best known for playing Poussey Washington in the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black.

Early life[edit]

Wiley was born in Washington, D.C.[2] She is a graduate of Duke Ellington School of the Arts.[3] Her parents, Christine and Dennis W. Wiley, 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.[4] She has two siblings: Aiyana Maat and Joshua Wiley.[5][not in citation given]



Wiley studied drama at the Juilliard School in New York, and graduated in 2010.[6] She trained in theater performance and worked mainly in theater in her early career.[7] In 2011, she played Maria in a production of Love's Labour's Lost by The Public Theater.[8]


When the Netflix television series Orange Is the New Black—based on Piper Kerman's memoir of the same name about her experiences of being incarcerated in a women's prison—came into development, Wiley was told about the auditions by a friend from Juilliard, Marco Ramirez, who was a writer for the show.[9] After discovering that another Juilliard friend, Danielle Brooks,[6] 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.[9] 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.[10] The darker and more violent plot of the second season allowed for the growth of Wiley's character, whose evolved story lines lead to Wiley's prolonged screen exposure and ultimate development as a "fan-favorite."[11] She was promoted to series regular for the third season.[12] The fourth season revolves heavily around her character leading up to her character's death. Fans were outraged at the death of her character which ultimately drew a larger fan base to the series. Her girlfriend Lauren Morelli is a writer on the show. She was the person assigned to write the last episode Wiley would appear in.

Wiley appeared in an advertisement for the digital monetary service PayPal in 2014.[13]


Wiley's first major acting role was in the comedy film The Sitter (2011).[9] In between seasons of Orange Is the New Black, Wiley filmed Rob the Mob, an independent crime film directed by Raymond De Felitta and released in March 2014.[9]


Wiley has modeled for Maniac Magazine, appearing on the cover and in an editorial of the 2014 September/October issue. She was pictured modeling "a series of bold, chic, high fashion looks."[14] Wiley was also featured on the cover of 2014 edition of OUT Magazine along with Sam Smith, Ellen Page, and Zachary Quinto.[15]

Voice Work[edit]

In December 2015, it was announced Wiley had been cast to voice the titular character in the video game The Walking Dead: Michonne. The game was released by Telltale Games in February 2016.[16]


In 2014, Wiley was named OUT100 Magazine's Ingenue of the Year.[17] In February 2015, she 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.[18]

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.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Wiley is openly lesbian.[20]



Year Title Role Notes
2011 The Sitter Tina
2012 Being Flynn Asha
2014 Rob the Mob Agent Annie Bell
2016 Nerve Azhar


Year Title Role Notes
2011 Unforgettable Gina 2 episodes
2012 Person of Interest Triage Nurse Episode: "Many Happy Returns"
2013–2016 Orange Is the New Black Poussey Washington 50 episodes
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
2015 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Michelle Episode: "Perverted Justice"
2016 The Catch Captain Nia Brooks Episode: "The Benefactor"
2016 You're the Worst
2017 The Handmaid's Tale Moira

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2016 The Walking Dead: Michonne Michonne Miniseries


  1. ^ a b "Samira Wiley - Biography - Movies & TV -", The New York Times, The New York Times Company, retrieved November 12, 2014 
  2. ^ "‘Orange is the New Black’ star Samira Wiley on how Black Lives Matter inspired Poussey Washington". Toronto Star, Victoria Ahearn, July 5, 2016
  3. ^ "- Exclusive Interview: Samira Wiley on Orange is the New Black". Fan TV - Voice. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  4. ^ Berlin, Mike (November 11, 2014). "OUT100: OITNB's Samira Wiley, Ingenue Of The Year | Out Magazine.". OUT Magazine. Retrieved April 2, 2015. 
  5. ^ Laiscell, Ed (December 5, 2001). "Renovation Project Rejuvenates Congregation". The Washington Informer. 
  6. ^ a b Abdulhamid, Yassmeen (September 2013). "Fame Is the New Reality for 'Orange' Actress". The Juilliard School. Retrieved April 25, 2014. 
  7. ^ Martin, Rebecca (July 29, 2013). "Orange Is the New Black's Samira Wiley on Playing Poussey and Tweets From Regina King—Exclusive!". Wetpaint. Retrieved April 26, 2014. 
  8. ^ Brantley, Ben (October 31, 2011). "O, That Rowdy Passage From Celibate to Celebrate". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved April 26, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c d Morales, Wilson (October 22, 2013). "Exclusive: Catching Up With Orange is the New Black's Samira Wiley". Retrieved April 26, 2014. 
  10. ^ Fitzpatrick, Kevin. "'Orange Is the New Black' Interview: Samira Wiley Talks Taystee-Poussey, Netflix Model and Season 2". ScreenCrush. Retrieved April 26, 2014. 
  11. ^ Breger, Esther (1 July 2014). "Interview: Orange Is The New Black's Poussey on Playing the Season's Tragic Heroine.". NewRepublic. Retrieved 2 April 2015. 
  12. ^ Rowles, Dustin (July 8, 2014). "Everything You Need to Know About Samira Wiley, The Extraordinary Poussey on 'Orange is the New Black". Pajiba. Retrieved January 10, 2015. 
  13. ^ Kay, Ariel (25 Aug 2014). "Bustle". Bustle. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  14. ^ "Samira Wiley Rocks High Fashion Looks For Maniac Magazine. Images by April Hubal.". SUPERSELECTED Black Fashion Magazine Black Models Black Contemporary Artists Art Black Musicians. 31 Oct 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2015. 
  15. ^ Johnson, Alexa Rae (11 Nov 2014). "'Talk about My Music, Not My Sexuality,' Says Sam Smith as He Joins Samira Wiley, Ellen Page and Zachary Quinto on Cover of Multiple Edition OUT Magazine.". Mail Online. Associated Newspapers. Retrieved 2 April 2015. 
  16. ^ "'Walking Dead' Just Cast An 'OITNB' Actress As Michonne". MTV News. Retrieved 2015-12-31. 
  17. ^ Berlin, Mike (November 11, 2014). "OUT100: OITNB's Samira Wiley, Ingenue Of The Year - Out Magazine". Out. Here Media. Retrieved November 11, 2014. 
  18. ^ Miller, Hayley (February 25, 2015). "Human Rights Campaign". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved April 2, 2015. 
  19. ^ Hipes, Patrick (January 25, 2015). "SAG Awards: 'Birdman' Flies Even Higher & 'Orange Is The New Black' Shines - List Of Winners.". Deadline. Retrieved April 2, 2015. 
  20. ^ Johnson, Alexa Rae (11 November 2014). "Sam Smith joins Samira Wiley, Ellen Page and Zachary Quinto on multiple edition OUT magazine - Daily Mail Online". Mail Online. Associated Newspapers. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 

External links[edit]