Samira Wiley rocked the GLAAD Media Awards in New York City Saturday with a moving speech in which she talked about coming out to her parents and offered support to LGBT youth.
Wiley, who plays lesbian character Moira on The Handmaid’s Tale and is also known for playing queer character Poussey on Orange Is the New Black, received GLAAD’s Vito Russo Awards, which is given annually “to an openly LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting LGBTQ acceptance,” as GLAAD’s blog states. It is named for the author of The Celluloid Closet, who was a founder of GLAAD and an activist with ACT UP.
Handmaid’s Tale costar Alexis Bledel introduced Wiley by saying, “With her roles on TV, and the way she carries herself alongside her wife, Lauren, in real life, I credit Samira with bringing powerful LGBTQ visibility to Hollywood and to our world.”
Wiley noted that she came out to her parents in May 2008, so she was marking the anniversary with her GLAAD Awards appearance. “My 20-year-old self could never have imagined that 10 years later she’d be standing here,” she said.
She was in her second year at the Juilliard School, and her parents came to New York to see her in a play. Very nervous, she went to their hotel room to come out to them, initially blurting out, “I like girls.”
Watch the video to see Wiley talk about her parents’ reaction, and to hear her message to young LGBT people: “You are loved.”