VIDEO: The Melissa Harris-Perry Show Does “Orange Is the New Black”

Yesterday, one of our favorite humans, Melissa Harris-Perry , invited the following humans onto her excellent television program: Piper Kerman (author of Orange is The New Black), Kate Mulgrew (Red), Uzo Aduba (Suzanne) and Laverne Cox (Sophia Burset).

It was an excellent show for many reasons, including the fact that Laverne Cox mentioned Autostraddle’s article on Real Life Sophia Bursets!

Here’s the first clip:

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And here’s the clip where Autostraddle gets name-dropped (it’s at the 2:50 mark):

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It was also pretty great to see more of Uzo Aduba, one of several Orange is The New Black cast members whose professional background is mainly in theater, not film or TV, and thus is pretty new on most fans’ radars. (Samira Wiley and Danielle Brooks both attended Julliard, the most competitive and exclusive theater program in the country. Wiley appeared in Love’s Labors Lost at The Public and Brooks recently spent a year playing Clarice in Servant of Two Masters with the Yale Repertory Theater.) Aduba recently starred in Godspell on Broadway, made her Broadway debut in Coram Boy, and was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Play for her performance in Translations of Xhosa at The Kennedy Center.

Wanna revisit Mey’s fantastic article? Here you go: Real Life Sophia Bursets: Transgender Women Face a Nightmare in Men’s Prisons.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3223 articles for us.


  1. Congrats on the shout out!

    I could listen to these women discuss LGBT and mental health issues all day.

  2. This is so awesome. I’m grinning like a fool watching those interviews. Also my crush on Uzo Aduba could not be bigger.

    • Haha, one of my favorite parts of this show is that EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER has girls on Autostraddle with enormous crushes on them.

  3. Love the interview. Also Uzo Aduba is Nigerian right? (I’m guessing so because of her name)

  4. Just look at obnoxious Kerman surrounded by all those amazing humans. Gah, I so dislike her, but I’m glad they didn’t just interview her.

      • Hmm, no I don’t get the ‘hate Piper Kerman vibe’ either. Kerman is very honest about her privilege in both the book and in interviews she’s had since then. She tried to tell her story (and how it differed from what other inmates went through) in as objective a way as possible and continues to do work which involves helping former inmates transition back to the ‘outside’ world. She’s also made thoughtful statements about trans inmates and the prison industrial complex. So, no one’s required to like her, but calling her obnoxious is a cheap shot IMO.

        • I read the memoir and watched the series, and I don’t feel like she does address her privilege in a decent way. Throughout the memoir, she blames others for her mistakes. I mean, even from the beginning paragraph, she says something along the lines of “I didn’t know it was illegal.” She’s also pretty bad to Nora in the book and Nora didn’t do anything to her. I don’t know. I also don’t appreciate the fact that she didn’t go through anything unique, and yet, her memoir became a hit and was turned into a series, all because she’s a pretty(ish) blonde wealthy white woman. There are so many people whose stories would be better. I don’t want to hear about them through her lens.
          She’s also a horrible writer. Seriously. The book was painful to read.

        • Nora and her sister Anne were deeply involved with a high level drug cartel (more so than in the tv show). If anything, I think they got a relatively light sentence because of their white woman privilege and because the US government was so desperate to extradite their boss that they gave them much more sentencing leeway than any black man would have gotten in the same situation. Nora was a woman in her mid-30s who was dealing with a pretty stupid recent grad much younger than herself, purposely got her involved in illegal activity, and later named her in order to save her own ass… that’s doing nothing to her?

          In every interview I’ve heard with Piper Kerman since the book came out Piper has explicitly stated she deserved to be in prison, should have been held responsible for what she did, deserved no better than any other prisoner and was way more privileged after her release than other prisoners. She has discussed how she thinks a lot of sentencing practices are eff’d up. I think a lot of the book very specifically deals with inequitable treatment between groups of prisoners. If anything, she writes about herself quite critically in the book.

          As to her getting published… well duh, complain to the racist, corporate publishing industry and the NY Times Review of Books, not her. Piper Kerman has stated very openly that her well-known husband, Larry Smith, had a lot to do with getting an agent and accepted for publication. Yes, that completely sucks but that’s also why we have so many stupid celebrities publishing mediocre children’s fiction, lightweight photo books and their inane memoirs. Seriously, you’re blaming Kerman for someone else using her book as the rough basis of a tv series?? I agree with you that she’s the last person I’d like to explore prison communities with… so often the people who should be writing about oppressed communities aren’t the ones doing it or given high profile opportunities to do so. I don’t think that racist/classist/cissexist reality therefore makes Piper Kerman obnoxious. But you’re welcome to your own opinion of her writing, I just don’t agree with you.

        • I don’t really understand the need to argue this with me, then. Simply agree to disagree and move on. But, you’re white, in addition to other privileges, and I’m not. I have SEEN the difference in how the judicial system treats people of color versus white people in my own family, and how it treats those who are class privileged versus those who are not.
          Again, I’ve read the memoir, as well as many an interview with Kerman, and I find her to be quite a bit like other privileged white girls I know. Again, I don’t want to hear the stories of people who have actually been dealt a pretty horrible hand by the prison system and society through her eyes. I don’t care about her opinion, honestly. She is someone who wanted to be a little rebellious after college and it bit her in the butt. That’s very much her own fault. She was educated, she knew that what she was doing was wrong, and all you know about Nora is what Kerman is saying. That’s hardly anything.
          I don’t know. I’m entitled to my informed opinion.
          Oh, and yeah, it’s grating that someone who can’t write landed a memoir. “Obnoxious” is a good word for that.
          Just my opinion. And for the record, I know many a person who is also turned off by Kerman and Chapman.

  5. Laverne Cox reads autostraddle! That means she’s most likely queer-identified, right? Right?

    If so, I know who I’m voting for in next year’s hot 100.

      • I am so excited and thrilled for both AS and Mey! And I kinda bounced all over the room at that part. Would be great if we could get Laverne Cox at ACamp. *Dreaming*

  6. How refreshing to see the actresses, author, and host interacting in an intelligent, respectful dialogue about issues on the show.

    So sad that this sort of thing is so rare.

  7. I saw it mentioned on twitter first before I saw the segment and it was so exciting to see Autostraddle get mentioned. I’m waiting for MHP to invite Riese (or another Autostraddle writer) onto one of her panels.

  8. Can we just have every news program be conducted by a diverse group of amazing women? Please? My life and the world would be so much better that way.

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