Samira Wiley, who kept the storyline a secret for over a year, spoke on why they chose her character Poussey for the unexpected twist.
Her character was killed in a scene inspired by the real-life death of Eric Garner and the "I Can't Breathe" and Black Lives Matter movement.
In the episode, directed by Matthew Weiner, the creator of “Mad Men,” Poussey was accidentally suffocated by CO Bayley during what started off as a peaceful demonstration to protest Captain Piscatella's treatment of the inmates.
Wiley, who kept the storyline a secret for over a year, spoke on why they chose her character;
"I heard from some of the writers that they couldn’t necessarily do this with every character. That it had to be a character that people really loved and people really cared about.
Poussey comes from a loving family, and people care about her, and even her queerness her father embraced. And like a lot of young kids, she just fell into the wrong thing. But her sheer potential to actually make something of herself, and to have that stripped away — it’s really powerful television."
On relationship between her character's death and Eric Garner, the actress said there are people who are watching television who might not have a personal relationship with Black Lives Matter, but they know Poussey.
"What I’ve been reading online from people is just this profound sadness, something that they can’t shake away. And that is exactly what Jenji is wanting people to feel, she wants people to not be able to shake this off," she said to THR.
On reaction to being killed off:
"In the beginning I was really surprised and confused, but then in talking with the writers and trying to understand the story they were trying to tell, my feelings quickly changed to being honored. I was honored to be able to be the vessel, to be able to tell this story through Poussey."
Titled "The Animals," the episode was written by Wiley's real-life girlfriend, Lauren Morelli.