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Samira Wiley is at her home in Los Angeles, and she just had an accident.
Wiley plays Moira, best friend of June (also know as Offred in the dystopian Gilead), on “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Talking to her on the phone is exactly as you’d imagine it. She’s got this rare thing called natural charisma that radiates — even on a call.
Wiley rocketed to stardom after playing the lovable Poussey in Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black,” and it’s clear why. Without skipping a beat, she goes from wiping up water to dropping hints about Season 2 of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Apparently, viewers will get to see more of Moira before Gilead; and Margaret Atwood, author of the original book version, is “loving all of the additions” to the story, says Wiley. The show released two episodes on Wednesday.
“We were in Toronto, and there was all this buildup, because the whole cast was going to have dinner with Margaret that night. So everyone was a little freaking out a bit, because it’s Margaret Atwood. People are filing in and waiting [for] her arrival, and I took a seat at the table. Finally, she walked in and I looked up, and she came and sat right in front of me. I was like, ‘Oh God, did I inadvertently put myself in the seat that is right next to Margaret Atwood?’ I was like, freaking out, and I was sort of stumbling and trying to make jokes and it was just awkward. So I was like, ‘I’m going to go to the bathroom.’ I left, and when I came back, Elisabeth Moss was walking up. I’m like, ‘Lizzy! I saved you the best seat.’ ”
“I chickened out. I chickened out, and I made Lizzy go sit next to Margaret. And, of course, they were supposed to, because they fell in love with each other and I was super intimidated.” [Laughs]
“Season 1 was kind of like our honeymoon phase. We’re getting to know each other, me and Margaret. She was a little more flirty on the Instagram than I was. I sort of kept to respectful comments, and she would give me hearts and kisses. I was like, ‘Whoooa, Margaret! We’re taking this a little too fast.’ No, I’m kidding. It was amazing! To have someone like Margaret Atwood not only know who you are and want to interact with you, but also to her credit, being able to interact on Instagram, on social media, which is such a young people’s platform. It’s a testament to how amazing she is and how with the times she is. How relevant she always will be. Yeah, she’s awesome, and she knows how to use her emojis.”
“It’s going to be perfectly unpredictable. It is going to be dangerous. Whatever you think about Season 1, this is going to be more of that. If you thought it was bleak, it’s going to be even more bleak. We’re going to the Colonies. It’s not pretty, but it’s exciting.”
“Even me being part of the cast — getting a new script every episode — I didn’t know what was going to happen and was shocked! Genuinely shocked. And I’m in the show. I know what’s going on. But every decision that they make is so smart, so thought out. I just think it’s going to be great television.”
“In Season 1, the whole world of Gilead is all about producing babies and having their utmost concern be the human race go on. What comes with that, of course, is the next step of motherhood. Who is fit to be a mother? Not only who’s fit, but what makes you a mother? Is it because you have the baby, biologically? Does that make you a mother? Or [is it] because you’re a nurturing person? What makes you a mother? All of these are natural questions for our show to ask next. And we’ll see that. We know Offred’s pregnant at the end of Season 1. That baby will come and we’ll see.”
“My mom has had so many different careers and so many different lives. She just retired in October, but I don’t think she knows that, because literally nothing has really changed in her life. She was a pastor, so she’s technically not preaching every Sunday, but she’s still preaching at other churches. She’s still a professor. She’s still working, and I think the woman will completely just work until the day she is not here anymore, because that’s what her passion is. … My mother taught me by example how to live a life that is passionate, that is full of love. She taught me self-care by making sure she was doing the thing [that’s right] for her. I was able to internalize that; and as an adult, I’m able to take responsibility for my own happiness.”
“[They are] just tickled by it. In a way, I want [my parents] to have a reaction that’s like, ‘Oh, that is so amazing!’ But they think about me in a way that’s like, ‘Oh, of course that’s happening for you. That’s supposed to happen.’ Not fazed by it, you know? It’s really, really, really encouraging and lovely to know that you have people behind you, that believe in you in that way. But sometimes I just want them to be like, ‘What?! That’s crazy!’ ”
“Sometimes I think I’m doing things by keeping up with the news, trying to stay informed, but I do have a deeper question that I don’t even know if I have the answer to: Is that enough? Having conversations with like-minded people about the same information that you all agree on... Where is the change? Where is the change happening, and what am I doing to spark any of it?”
“So I think that that’s still a question for me. And a question of how and when and what. There are all these different questions, but I think the answer is: I’m still just on the journey of figuring that out every day.”