Why Moira Strand From The Handmaid's Tale Looks So Familiar

Samira Wiley has stolen hearts on Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale as Moira Strand, the feisty best friend of the series' main character, Offred. Wiley's often gritty performance over the show's three seasons has earned her both Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Award nods, and has made her a role model for many women who are fans of the show. 

Wiley has said that she appreciates that her role in The Handmaid's Tale has given her a platform to inspire young women, telling Essence, "I feel like it's my responsibility and one that I take it seriously."

For those who haven't seen it, The Handmaid's Tale is adapted from the 1985 Margaret Atwood novel of the same name. It follows OffredMoira, and other "handmaids" who are forced into sexual slavery in dystopian America. The handmaids must bear children for wealthy and powerful couples who have taken over control of the government through rape, murder, and other illicit means in a patriarchal society. 

Fans of The Handmaid's Tale might recognize Wiley from other roles she's had during her career, but may not be able to put their finger on just where they've seen her. Let's take a peek at why Wiley might look so familiar. 

Samira Wiley's OITNB role changed her life in many ways

Before Samira Wiley rose to fame, she had small roles on other shows, including Person of Interest and the CBS police drama Unforgettable. Her big break came in 2013 when she was cast as the quick-witted inmate Poussey Washington on the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. 

The hilarious Poussey was known for having tumultuous relationships with several of the other Litchfield Penitentiary inmates. Wiley's turn as Poussey earned her and other cast members a 2017 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. Playing Poussey also established Wiley, who is openly gay, as a role model for the LGBTQ community, something that has been solidified through her role as Moira, who is also a lesbian. 

Wiley told The New York Times that she's glad to have that responsibility, telling the outlet, "I want to be that voice that people don't have in their parents." Wiley's role as Poussey Washington was life-changing for her in another way, too. Orange Is the New Black is also where Wiley met her wife Lauren Morelli, who was a writer and producer on the show. 

After OITNB, Wiley had a landed a role on Law and Order: SVU playing a woman who tries to free her father years after he was imprisoned on charges that he sexually assaulted her.

Does it get more high-profile than a guest spot on Law and Order: SVU? Still, fans may have also spotted Wiley in other, more recent roles and ads. 

Samira Wiley can do it all, both on the screen and off

Samira Wiley's performance as Moira Strand, combined with her memorable work on Orange is the New Black and other shows, has since landed her a slew of cameos and other roles that fans of The Handmaid's Tale might remember her from. 

In 2017, Wiley was cast in a cameo role in the Kathryn Bigelow film Detroit, which depicts life in Detroit during the Civil Rights struggles of the late 1960s. In DetroitWiley plays Vanessa, who works the desk at the Algiers Motel, the site where a group of black teenagers was fatally beaten by Detroit police in 1967. Wiley then played pilot Bessie Coleman in a 2019 episode of the raucous and raunchy Comedy Central series, Drunk HistoryThe genre shift is a testament to Wiley's entire career, which has included both dramatic and comedic roles, including her brief run on the FX comedy You're The Worst, not to mention one of her earliest screen credits in The Sitter, alongside funnyman Jonah Hill.  

Outside of her acting career, Wiley's role as a role model even reached a meta level when she was tapped for Aerie's Role Models ad campaign. Speaking with Glamour about the honor, Wiley said she's settling more and more into her status as a source of inspiration, telling the outlet, "I'm blessed to be able to have people looking up to me."

If Samira Wiley's career keeps on this successful track, we're sure she'll be a role model for years to come.