‘OITNB’ Star Danielle Brooks Talks Taystee and Fighting for Justice

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Jul 29, 2019

Danielle Brooks, who has played the outspoken character Taystee on Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” for seven seasons, has an axe to grind with how her character is going out.

“The happy ending went out the window a long time ago,” Brooks told TVLine in an interview published today (July 29). “It was long gone even before [the life sentence], because I don’t think Taystee should even be in prison.”

Over the course of the series, Brooks’ character has had firsthand experiences with unjust convictions and systemic mistreatment, including witnessing the death of her best friend Poussey Washington, played by Samira Wiley, at the hands of law enforcement. As a result, Brooks believes that Taystee will eventually turn to social justice in earnest and try to find a way to have her sentence commuted.

“She’s the type of person that, 10 years from now, would call somebody like [founder of the Equal Justice Initiative] Bryan Stevenson and be like, ‘Hey, can you help me, because I was wrongfully accused.’ And I think he would help her out,” Brooks said. “I think it’s just a matter of time for the system to change and for Taystee to get the justice that she deserves.”

In the meantime, Taystee is doing her best to reconcile past wrongs by co-establishing the Poussey Washington Fund, a microloan program for newly released inmates, and a financial literacy course to prepare the newly-released for life on the outside. Brooks said that as Taystee is transitioning into a newness, even the wig she wore had to go. “I said to Jenji [Kohan, the series creator], ‘This feels like I’m still holding on to all of that weight… all that stuff that Taystee has gone through,’ and I asked her if I could take the wig off.” Taystee does exactly that and now sports a short natural.