Why the ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Author Returned to Prison

Why the ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Author Went Back to Prison

Do you have any favorite episodes?

I am a big fan of that chicken story line. And all of the work that the writers’ room did on the story lines involving motherhood, and the relationships between mothers and children. Those are the most important story lines, as much as I love lesbian drama.

In the final season, did any character endings make you especially happy?

Taystee. Danielle Brooks’s portrayal of her is really, really powerful. That’s the one that really moves me the most.

Any that made you very sad?

There’s a lot of sadness there. That’s appropriate for the material. Not all stories have happy endings, that’s a truthful reflection of the world. I get asked constantly, Is the show realistic? And I’m like, the show is very truthful. That’s what’s important for people to understand. It’s a truthful telling of the world that we live in right now.

Which episodes made you cry the most?

I almost cried yesterday, in that House hearing room, when they screened that scene. I’m not a big crier. I’m kind of a tough cookie.

So Poussey’s death didn’t get you?

No, Poussey’s death was devastating. For many people it is this watershed moment in how they think and feel about the show, and hopefully about the prison system. American prisons and jails are harsh, horrible, incredibly punitive places, because that’s how we built them to be. One of the most important things about the show is that it shows beautiful moments of humanity and kindness. That’s the reason that the show has inspired such passionate devotion.

What can you tell me about the Poussey Washington Fund?

Many fans who come to the show have some sort of personal lived experience relative to the criminal justice system. Many fans want the system to do better, to be reformed, to be transformed. This is one way that fans can contribute directly to organizations that are doing that transformation on the ground. I also hope the fans are inspired within their own communities. Whether that’s going and volunteering at a jail or a prison themselves, or getting involved in judicial elections or prosecutorial elections. Fans of the show actually have a direct say in how some of these decisions ultimately get made, if they are paying attention.

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