The “Orange is the New Black” actress also dishes on how she saved money on her wedding
Actress Samira Wiley went from one kind of prison to another.
In the “Orange Is the New Black” star’s new show, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the first clue that something has gone wrong in the version of America depicted here is when two characters, June and Moira, order drinks at a coffee shop. It costs $7.81, but June’s credit card is declined for “insufficient funds.” Not only does the barista refuse to try the card again, but he swears at them, insults them, and tells them to leave — just a small preview of events to come, in which women are stripped of all rights, starting with the right to hold property. The new regime of Gilead, actress Samira Wiley told Moneyish, is “making the rules so women can’t be independent anymore.”
Conversely, the first hint that something might be put right again is in the finale, when Wiley’s character Moira, having escaped Gilead, is greeted at a refugee shelter in Canada – which gives her money. “This is the first time we see someone get their power back,” Wiley said. “Moira realizes, ‘Oh my god, I am a human being again.’” The oddly specific amount — $470 — is based on a formula the United Nations uses to generate the amount each country gives to refugees. “I don’t understand why that amount,” Wiley said, laughing, “but I trust the UN.”
After playing Poussey on “Orange is the New Black,” “I didn’t want my next role to be a gay character,” Wiley said. But she changed her mind when she read the script for “The Handmaid’s Tale.” “Being a black gay woman, and being able to bring my own experience to Moira, and make her authentic, I’m happy to portray that,” she said. Come season two, she hopes to explore even more of Moira’s perspective. What was her home life like with her partner, Odette? What was her life like at Jezebels, as a lesbian forced to have sex with men? What is her life like now in Canada? “It’s just so juicy,” said Wiley, who’s up for a best supporting actress award at the Primetime Emmys thanks to her role in the dystopian drama.
While she was filming “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Wiley was also planning something that could never happen in Gilead — her own, real-life wedding. One of the ways she inadvertently found would cut costs? Having her parents officiate.
“Now I feel naive,” she said, laughing, “but I hadn’t even thought that you might have to pay the officiate! In my mind, it was always going to be my mom and my dad. They officiated my sister’s wedding, too.”
Wiley also found an affordable venue that felt like a splurge. Driving around Palm Springs, she passed a go-kart and mini-golf hybrid spot called Boomers, and the actress lit up. “Oh my gosh, can we get that?” she asked her partner, Lauren Morelli. Morelli asked, “Are you serious?” “I am so serious,” Wiley said. So they rented out Boomers for the rehearsal dinner, which was catered by a food truck. “Just to be able to see my dad driving around the track like he was speeding down the highway, that made it worth it,” Wiley said.
When Wiley was going over the final wedding budget, she approved one final splurge — confetti cannons for the dance floor. “My wife tried to nix that at one point,” she said, laughing. “But I knew it was going to make me feel good, for our first dance.”
Instead of a slow dance by themselves, they put on Bruno Mars’s song, “Uptown Funk,” and invited everyone to join in, as a blast from the cannon kicked it off. “I don’t even remember how many pounds of confetti it shot out, but I’m not going to say no to that,” she said.
This story was updated on September 17 2017.
Katerina Ang contributed to this article.
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