Samira Wiley graced the cover of BUST this month and opened up about her relationship with Lauren Morelli, who she met on the set of Orange is the New Black.
Morelli is a writer on the series where Wiley played the lovable Poussey before being killed off at the end of Season 4 in a heartbreaking death.
“I was really attracted to Lauren’s mind first before I met Lauren the person,” Wiley said. “I got her script and I was like, ‘This person’s really talented, I can’t wait to meet this person.’ Well, OK, I’m a little biased. It was the first script that my [character’s] name was actually in, where she says her name is Poussey. It’s the ‘accent a droite’ script.”
Wiley goes on to describe the writing that sealed the deal for her appreciation of Morelli.
“But then there was this rap battle in it and I was like, ‘Who is this writer? They just wrote a whole rap battle.’ I just assumed that they were going to be a person of color. They were not. Let’s just sayshout outmy wife can write raps. But I just remember her coming to set and me being able to watch her be a boss from afar, telling whatever people to go this way, answering this question. Just seeing her literally be the person in charge was really attractive to me.”
Morelli first came out in In 2014 essay titled “While Writing for Orange is the New Black, I realized I am Gay,” publicly discussing her journey to that monumental realization. Her wife describes those early moments to BUST.
“I remember those first months with her, trying to figure out her journey with her own sexuality,” Wiley recalls, “Feeling like she picked me as the person she was going to talk to about all of it. And it wasn’t sexual, it was just like a friend. There was something deeply intimate about that, whether there was sexual tension there or not.”
She adds, “The deep intimacy of being two people talking about the core of who we are. Talking about our journeys. Not even necessarily flirting on set, but on the phone, thousands of miles apart, talking about ‘Who are we?’ And ‘does this make me a different person?’ ‘Does this actually make me who I am now?’ That’s how we fell in love.”
The actress also divulged on her and her wife’s decision to publish their wedding photos, noting they felt a responsibility to do so.
“We were really hesitant about it at first. Then we had some conversations and we felt like, No, maybe this is our responsibility,” she told BUST, “To have the public platform that we do and to put that out there and maybe have some little girl look at it who wouldn’t have anything else to look to. Or have a couple who’s older than usgiving them inspiration that their story fits in the bigger story. There are parts of us that want to keep our private lives private and have things that are sacred, but then there are also parts of us that realize we have a responsibility to give some visibility to people in our position, and I am happy that we made the decision. It didn’t take anything away from our wedding day, it only enriched it. I feel like we were just pushing the futurenot even the future, the now, forward.”
Wiley also spoke on her queer role as Moira on The Handmaid’s Tale, which returns for a second season on Hulu April 25.
“Moira is such a badass,” she says. “And she is someone who is never going to be in the back not speaking up. She’s always going to be in the forefront. She’s always going to be at the mic at the Women’s March. She has become a real role model for me, and I think that if I wasn’t playing this role, I don’t know if I would be as outspoken about my beliefs and where they lie when it comes to the president that we have today. Especially when it comes to the rights of people who look like me and live their lives like I do.”
The 30-year old actress hopes to embody those qualities in her own life, and inspire future generations.
“And I think that I’m finding out now that I want to be that person that someone can look to,” Wiley said. “Angela Bassett was that person for me, just by being black, honestly. I was like, ‘She’s out there, she’s got a job, that’s what I want to do!’ And if I can do that for somebody, whether it’s by being an actor or by being an open, out, proud person, I hope that I can be some kind of inspiration like that.”
Images via Bust and Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Turner