The actress who played fan-favorite Poussey Washington recent shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana

By Maya Anderman
July 13, 2016 11:35 AM

When Samira Wiley and Orange is the New Black creators talked through her character’s arc for season 4, they couldn’t possibly have imagined just how timely it would be.

Spoiler warning: For those who haven’t finished season 4 of OITNB, plot details will be revealed ahead.

Addressing the recent string of shootings that have put a spotlight on race in the U.S., Wiley notes how “unfortunate” it is that these kinds of incidents are still taking place. In fact, she says, she and the OITNB writers had hoped her story would “reflect something of the past.”

“I think that [the Black Lives Matter movement] is always relevant,” the actress, 29, told PEOPLE at the premiere of her new film Nerve. “It’s unfortunate that it is.”

The Netflix hit shocked viewers in the final episodes of season 4 when Wiley’s fan-favorite character Poussey Washington was accidentally fatally suffocated by an untrained guard who was trying to stop a protest. Many were quick to note the scene’s parallels to the 2014 deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, which spurred Black Lives Matter and “I Can’t Breathe.”

Samira Wiley (as Poussey Washington) in Orange Is the New Black
JoJo Whilden/Netflix

Poussey’s story has maintained its relevance in recent weeks amid ongoing controversy surrounding the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, as well as the racially motivated shootings of five police officers in Dallas.

“I think when we told the story we were wanting it to be something that happened in the past and reflect that,” Wiley told PEOPLE on Tuesday. “Now that there are news stories after us filming this, it’s unfathomable.”

Orange Is the New Black is currently streaming on Netflix, and Nerve hits theaters July 27.

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