SPOILERS if you haven’t seen the series…
Many fans of Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” weren’t too pleased with the shocking killing off of Poussey Washington (played by Samira Wiley), during the show’s 4th season. Some likened her death to the deaths of Sandra Bland and Michael Brown, in part because she died at the hands of a white corrections officer, as well as how her the careless way that her dead body was handled afterward.
It’s been reported that, before production began on season 4, Wiley was informed that he character was going to die, although no other cast member was told. According to Wiley, the writers decided Poussey would die because she was a character who was “really loved and people really cared about”. In addition, writer Lauren Morelli said that series creator Jenji Kohan thought it would be a good idea to kill off a character who would have a bright future outside of prison, since viewers would understand the loss of that person’s potential. The same couldn’t be said for the death of a character that viewers never expected much from.
Ahead of season 5, Netflix has decided to honor Poussey Washington with a series of portraits captioned with “Stand Up” on them, created by artist fans of the series from around the world who were commissioned by the premiere streaming platform.
Viewers should expect to see them unveiled in these 8 cities before season 5 premieres on June 9: New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Melbourne, Sydney, Chicago, Detroit and San Francisco.
“I want to do the character justice and do the show justice because I think they have so many strong messages that are really relevant today,” said Detroit-based artist Michelle Tanguay to the AP, who created one of the portraits, and who said she cried when she watched Poussey die. “I’m a huge, huge fan of the show. I actually watch it while I paint.”
Her hand-painted portrait (in black, blue and white) is 24-by-25 feet, and stands on a brick wall at the corner of Detroit’s Broadway Street and Grand River Avenue.
She said Netflix allowed her to do whatever she wanted with the mural, as long as she showed the character and used the show’s hashtag and slogan.
“I viewed this project as paying tribute to the character,” Tanguay added. “I wanted to make it very positive and that’s why I chose the bright colors, the bright blues, to just do her justice.. I just wanted to be able to see her again… To see an African-American woman on the wall in Detroit, blown up huge, with the words ‘Stand Up’ — it’s just so empowering and that’s what I wanted everyone to feel when they see the mural.”
As for actress Samira Wiley, who co-stars in the upcoming new Hulu’s series “The Handmaid’s Tale,” she is honored wby the portraits, stating, “I think it’s our responsibility as artists to be able to reflect the time that we’re living in… she’s a fictional character that can elicit real change in thought and action from people.”
Netflix has released 4 of the 8 murals which are all embedded below: