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‘Orange Is the New Black’ Roll Call: Know Your Inmates

From Piper to Poussey, a scorecard on the MVP convicts of Netflix’s hit show

Orange is the New Black

The cast of 'Orange Is the New Black.'

Jill Greenberg/Netflix

Over the past two seasons of Netflix's hit women-in-prison series Orange Is the New Black, showrunner Jenji Kohan and company have introduced viewers to a colorful cast of incarcerated characters: pacifist nuns, nutty psychopaths, oversexed jokesters, lovesick stalkers, methhead holy rollers, transgender hairdressers and, just for variety, one über-privileged drug-smuggling WASP. We've got to meet inmates of all shapes, sizes, subcultures, and sexual preferences — making the show one of the single most diverse and inclusive TV dramas to ever grace the small screen.

But it also means that you're dealing with an ensemble cast that keeps getting larger and larger, and enough intersecting plot lines to put Game of Thrones to shame. Before Netflix drops the next batch of new episodes en toto on June 12th, you may need a refresher on who's who and what’s happening with everybody — so we're providing a quick (re)introduction to the inmates of Litchfield Penitentary. From Piper to Pennsatucky, Crazy Eyes to Big Boo, here's your one-stop OITNB MVP dossier.

yael stone

Jill Greenberg for Netflix

Lorna Morello (Yael Stone)

Backstory: Morello's obsession with West Side Story and wedding magazines conceals a checkered past: after a long history of online scams and stalking a man she went on one single date with, she planted a bomb under his fiancée's car — hence the prison sentence.
Place in Litchfield's hierarchy: Morello aligns herself with the white crew, and enjoys privileges other inmates don't, like driving the prison van for outside doctor appointments, etc.
Pre-OITNB: The Aussie was well-known within Sydney's theater scene, racking up awards and nominations, including one in 2011 for acting opposite Geoffrey Rush in The Diary of a Madman.
Best line: "You don't go Jessica Simpson when you've got Rhianna!"

laura prepon

Jill Greenberg for Netflix

Alex Vause (Laura Prepon)

Backstory: Piper's ex was introduced to the wonderful world of drug smuggling by her dad's dealer, and eventually brought her then-girlfriend into the mix. She also ratted out her former love in order to get a shorter sentence; when we last left her, she was planning to skip town, but ended up back in Litchfield…because Piper ratted her out.
Place in Litchfield's hierarchy: Alex has her friends — Nicky and Piper, at least at first — but she's not entrenched in any one crew. She does, however, cross Pennsatucky and end up stuck in a dryer, albeit briefly.
Pre-OITNB: After her run on That '70s Show ended in 2006, the erstwhile Donna Pinciotti had bit parts on How I Met Your Mother, Castle, and Medium, as well as a starring role on the short-lived series October Road and Are You There, Chelsea?
Best line: "Rule number one: Don't ever fall in love with a straight girl."

Samira Wiley

Jill Greenberg for Netflix

Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley)

Backstory: Before prison, Poussey got her heart broken: She was living on a military base in Germany, but her family was transferred back to the U.S. after her girlfriend's father discovers them in bed together. The reason for Poussey's imprisonment is unclear, but thankfully it's not because she shot her estranged lover's dad — she almost did, but her father stopped her.
Place in Litchfield's hierarchy: Poussey spends most of her time hanging out with her bestie Taystee and their fellow African-American inmates — that is, until Vee rolls in and turns everyone except Poussey to the dark side.
Pre-OITNB: Like much of the cast, Wiley got her big break on Orange; prior to being cast, she'd had only a few bit parts in movies and on TV shows.
Best line: "My name is Poussey. Accent a droite, bitch."

selena leyva

Jill Greenberg for Netflix

Gloria Mendoza (Selenis Leyva)

Backstory: It’s hard not to sympathize with Mendoza: On the outside, she owned a bodega, running a food stamp scam on the side, and also suffered through an abusive relationship. After her boyfriend hits one of her kids, she decides to leave — but gets turned in and thrown in the slammer instead. (The boyfriend got his, though, when he tries to steal Mendoza’s cash from her store and it mysteriously burns down…with him inside.)
Place in Litchfield's hierarchy: As the de facto leader of the "Spanish Harlem" crew, Mendoza has plenty of power — so much so that when Red is taken off kitchen duty, Mendoza becomes Head Chef.
Pre-OITNB: Earlier in her career, Leyva was on the other side of the law: She played Detective Mariluz Rivera on Law & Order, along with roles in Blue Bloods and The Following.
Best line: "Prison is gluten. Don't commit the crime if you can't fucking have flour."

Adrienne C. Moore


Cindy “Black Cindy” Hayes (Adrienne C. Moore)

Backstory: Black Cindy is the TSA agent from hell: During her brief time working for the government agency, she harrasses travelers and steals from their luggage. She also has a history with drugs (possibly the reason for her imprisonment), and has an adolescent daughter who is being raised by Cindy's mother.
Place in Litchfield's hierarchy: Cindy is a go-with-the-flow sort of gal, but mostly hangs out with Taystee, Poussey, and the other black inmates. When Vee takes charge, Cindy rolls with it, but becomes a bit of a jerk — offering cigarettes in exchange for a clean bunk — in the process.
Pre-OITNB: If you recognize Moore, it's likely from her appearance on an episode of 30 Rock as Shanice, the marriage bureau worker who helps Liz Lemon on her wedding day.
Best line: "If grateful paid the bills, we'd all be Bill Gates."

Emma Myles

Emma Myles in a scene from NetflixÕs ÒOrange is the New BlackÓ Season 2. Photo credit: Jessica Miglio for Netflix.


Leanne Taylor (Emma Myles)

Backstory: The mousey, seemingly shy inmate hangs out with Pennsatucky and her crew, works in the laundry room, and occasionally gets drugs from Pornstache in exchange for sexual favors. We don't know why she's locked up thus far; fingers crossed we find out this season.
Place in Litchfield's hierarchy: Thanks to her relationship with Pennsatucky, Leanne isn't exactly well-liked within the prison. But when Tucky becomes too big for her britches after getting new teeth, she's there to call the holy roller out on her bullshit.
Pre-OITNB: Myles' resume was also rather short before Orange: Her most notable roles were cameos in Law & Order: SVU and How to Make It in America.
Best line: "You're not the Wizard of Oz — you're the Wizard of God!"

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