In however many years, one is going to kill the other. When everybody around you is sad, I do the opposite. Even though I’m the one that’s gone, I was cheering people up. The director was Matt Weiner, who’s the genius behind Mad Men. I remember him coming up to me before we even started filming the episode and he was just like, “Look, I know this is our first time working together but I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. One thing I did miss this season was that friendship.
Let’s just shoot this like we’re shooting another episode of TV.” And I said alright, you got it. You guys had scenes together in groups, but there weren’t those really fun Taystee–Poussey scenes this season.
To know that we might have achieved that this time is awesome. Honestly, it was a really smart decision on their part because it is complicated. You could’ve had one of those asshole guards be the one to do it, but then that would’ve made your feelings so cut and dry. In the last episode, you see that they are two kids, and we pass each other on the street. She’s trying to highlight this horrible corrupt system that’s corrupt on both sides. The same thing I’m talking about when I want to walk on the street and be like, “It’s okay, ya’ll. I would be hanging out there, they would stop the take, and people would get all emotional. You gotta do the wide shot and then the close-up shots. [.] Did you miss having scenes with Danielle like that?
How did you feel about the fact that the guard who kills her is humanized in the episode? That’s really cool of them to do that, too, just to see that these are just two kids walking down the street. I’d just run around and make jokes and try and break the ice because it’s hard. The one of my face, I think, we did it twice because [director Matthew Weiner] was just like, “I don’t want to do that anymore. Let’s just say that was good.” That was where I lost it. What kind of direction did you get for that moment, when the camera focused on your face as she was taking her last breaths?
It felt like I’m really doing my job as an actor because my mom is talking about Poussey as her friend. I feel like I don’t want to take it for granted that Jenji and the team behind her were like, Samira can handle this.
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Meaning that it wasn’t one, formal sit-down conversation we all had about it. That’s one of the reasons why they wanted to do it. Fortunately or unfortunately, they definitely succeeded. They don’t have a black friend and they don’t have a gay friend, but they know Poussey from TV and they feel just like you said — you feel like you knew her. My phone blew when people read that script because [that’s when the] cast found out. A night in New York, getting lost, and dancing with drag queens. What about the very last moment when you looked into the camera with your big old smile? So we were on set and we were doing it over and over, and then somebody comes over and they’re like, “Jenji said look in the camera.” I’m like, Jenji said what?! I was like okay, this is just the genius of Jenji Kohan, I guess I’ll do this and then she’ll see or everybody will see later it don’t work. I think that might’ve been the last scene I shot in that episode. Number one, when I first got my job on Orange I was a bartender and I stayed bartending the entire time we shot season one because I was scared I wasn’t going to be in prison no more. They feel connected to her in a way that is special and different. The trust between the director and me was already there and we already had a lot of conversations about it even before we started. I thought about if it happened in reverse, if this was happening with Danielle, and if I got a script, and how that would make me feel. [Pauses, chokes up a bit.] I went over to her apartment, got a bottle of wine and was like, “Yo, I need to tell you something.” We talked it out like sisters before she even got the script. One of them might have even said to me, “Damn, dead dead or in a coma? I was like, “It don’t pack the same punch if you’re just in a coma.” They’re both phenomenal. [Laughs.] I was for real scared they were just not going to write anything for me anymore because that’s actually happened to me before. She has so much potential and so much hope, especially in this season, as we see she is basically guaranteed a job. People are out here for multiple years for small drug offenses, marijuana and stuff — and these are kids. You asked me earlier why was I scared, and I think I am scared because I remember when I told my mom, she couldn’t believe it. We had talked for a while, and she said, “I can’t get over that thing you told me.