8:00am PT by Jackie Strause
Watch: Emotional 'Orange Is the New Black' Stars Eulogize One of Their Own
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the entire fourth season of Orange Is the New Black.]
With Orange Is the New Black viewers in a state of mourning after binge-watching season four, Netflix has enlisted a few of the prison dramedy's key stars to help with the grieving process.
In a new video released to The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday morning, Samira Wiley, Danielle Brooks and Uzo Aduba pay tribute to Wiley's Poussey Washington, the fan-favorite character who was killed off the show.
"You really do see Poussey start to have things to live for," begins Wiley about the character, who has been a standout on the Jenji Kohan-created series since season one. "I just see so much potential in Poussey Washington: I root for her, I want to see her outside of prison making it."
Despite a hopeful season for the beloved inmate — she finally found love with Soso (Kimiko Glenn) and began to set up their post-Litchfield life — Poussey was accidentally suffocated by a white prison guard, Bayley (Alan Aisenberg), during a protest. The heartbreaking incident and nameless death of the inmate — who is black, 92 pounds and non-violent — is ultimately covered up by the prison. "They didn’t even say her name," cries Taystee (Brooks) before inciting a prison-wide riot over the injustice.
The shocking events that unfolded in the provocative final two episodes of the season drew striking real-life parallels to the Say Her/His Name and Black Lives Matter movements, evoking the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Sandra Bland, among others.
"She's more than a number," says Brooks, who plays Poussey's best friend on the show. "She was [Taystee's] friend, her sister. She was Poussey Washington."
Brooks is also Wiley's real-life friend since 17, which made filming Poussey's death scene all the more poignant.
"I remember afterwards, just hugging her," she recalls in the video about the episode, "The Animals," which was written by Wiley's real-life girlfriend, Lauren Morelli, and directed by Mad Men's Matthew Weiner. "It was just a moment of really being grateful for life, being grateful for friendship and I'm glad I got to do that with her."
While Wiley knew about the storyline for a year, the rest of the cast only found out by reading the script. Wiley told THR that she asked permission to specifically tell Brooks and Aduba (who plays Crazy Eyes/Suzanne) ahead of time. "I couldn’t imagine having to find out that way," she said about gathering the pair for an intimate dinner. "We just sat there and we cried together and we drank together and we smiled together. We reminisced. I’m so grateful that I was able to have that night with them."
The tribute video also includes clips of Poussey throughout the series, charting Poussey and Taystee's friendship as well as her love story with Soso, and sees Wiley fighting back tears while saying goodbye to her character.
But it's Aduba who puts it best when discussing how losing one of Litchfield's own can have the power to resonate with Orange viewers everywhere as they brace for season five: "Who doesn't love Poussey?"
Watch the video below.