Words: Emily Maskell; pictures: Erik Pendzich / Alamy Stock Photo
Samira Wiley has revealed an Orange Is the New Black castmate that outed her to the world before she was ready to come out.
She reveals that the opportunity to come out on her own terms was taken from her and that she worried she would be typecast for the rest of her career because of it.
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Wiley played the character Poussey Washington on the hit TV show until season four.
Upon reading an interview with a co-star that discussed her sexuality, she remembers that she "burst into tears," she tells the Guardian.
"My publicist got it off the internet in 30 minutes, but what’s 30 minutes on the internet? A lifetime," the 35-year-old actor reflects.
She goes on to acknowledge that while "no one cared" and "everyone already assumed it," it was still an upsetting moment where her control was taken away.
"It was mine," Wiley says. "I felt like they took something from me."
Following her departure from Orange Is the New Black, Wiley cautiously accepted a role in Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale, concerned she was being pigeonholed to only gay roles.
“My wife was like, if you do gay for anything, you do gay for this. When I think about it now, it’s a little naive to say, I don’t want to play gay, because that’s the heteronormative idea that we’re all the same.
Erik Pendzich / Alamy Stock Photo
In the show, Wiley plays Moira, a woman who's been to hell and back in this dystopian show that sees a totalitarian society subject fertile women to child-bearing slavery.
Wiley notes the character of Moira is "completely different" character to Poussey.
The American actress won the 'Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series' Emmy Award for her portrayal of the character in 2018.
"For me, how powerful is it, to have a Black gay woman portray an actual Black gay woman on TV? I wouldn’t have been able to see that ever, when I was a kid," Wiley notes.
Wiley married Orange is the New Black writer Lauren Morelli in 2017 after the pair met on the set of the show and Morelli gave birth to the couple's first daughter last year.
As well as her work on-screen, Wiley will be appearing in Blues for an Alabama Sky at London's National Theatre from 20 September to 5 November.
The Attitude September/October issue is out now.