THE 18TH FLOOR OF THE SUNSET MEDIA TOWER BOASTS A GLITTERING VIEW OF HOLLYWOOD BELOW . But when Samira Wiley walks into our appointed conference room, she sits with her back to the window and politely asks if the muted flatscreen in the corner could be turned all the way off so she can concentrate on our conversation. This kind of focus isn’t really surprising, though. The 32-year-old Wiley has been steadily, meticulously rising through the television ranks for the last six years, ever since first landing the role of fan favorite Poussey Washington on Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, which won the cast three consecutive Screen Actors Guild awards. “I was cast in that role only four months after my 25th birthday,” she says. “It was like a belated gift.”
Since then, the Juilliard School grad has been a recurring guest star on Will & Grace as Karen’s girlfriend and won an Emmy for playing Moira, the rebellious childhood best friend of Elisabeth Moss’s June, on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which returned for its third season June 5. But right now, Wiley wants to talk about her most recent birthday, for which she received a gift perhaps even better than a TV role: Cheddar Bay Biscuits from Red Lobster. “I never really go to chain restaurants anymore, but I really wanted to, so we did,” she says.
That “we” she’s referring to includes her wife, OITN