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Characters / Orange Is the New Black - Black Inmates

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Janae Watson
Portrayed By: Vicky Jeudy

A gifted former high school track star arrested after she became involved with a criminal boyfriend and was caught robbing a check-cashing establishment.

  • Aborted Arc: Her friendships with Piper and Yoga Jones, see Demoted to Extra.
  • Academic Athlete: Revealed to have been this prior to prison.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Part of why she ended up in prison.
  • Brutal Honesty: She has no qualms about speaking her mind. Since she's in prison, this lands her in trouble all the time and she never seems to learn her lesson.
  • Butt-Monkey: She gets punished so often that the others joke about her having a cell reserved in SHU for herself. She's also one of the first to get tazed once the riot police raid the prison.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: She was shat on for her whole life, leading to her becoming a very bitter person who would join a prison drug business just out of a belief that there is nothing better for her. First she was scorned by boys for being athletically gifted and had a damper put on her academic plans by her fundamentalist father; (ironically, the only person who did right by her at that time was the boss of a gang she wanted to join, who tried to turn her away from crime) then soon in prison she was unfairly punished and shat on some more.
  • A Day in the Limelight: "Blood Donut" is the episode in which we discover her backstory. She gets another in Season 5's "Sing It, White Effie."
  • Demoted to Extra: She started out as being the most prominent character of her clique, but her role was quickly reduced to going to SHU from time to time and occasionally being difficult.
  • Everything Is Racist: Sees racism everywhere, to the extent that even the other black inmates point out that she's overreacting. She once tried to claim that Black Friday was racist.
  • Fatal Flaw: She does not know when to shut up and keep her head low, which results in her being the most frequently punished inmate.
  • Foil: In Season 1, she's this to Piper. They both enter prison at the same time, though adjust to it quite differently.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Janae has a short fuse with nothing to back it up; as a result, she tends to get her in trouble.
  • Jerkass: Janae is very bitter and lets it show. She's quick to insult others.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Her flashbacks show that she had a lot of potential to succeed in life. She was academically gifted enough to be offered a scholarship at a fancy private school when she was 13, and a talented high school athlete being recruited by colleges.
  • Kick the Dog: She's on board with executing McCullough, despite the latter pleading for her life and not one of the guards who abused inmates. Though Janae could have just been posturing.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: All her life, men seem to have been distant from her because she was simply too fast and too much better than them. The reason she was arrested was only because she finally tried to slow herself down for a guy.
  • Odd Friendship: With Yoga Jones, though she ends it in Season 2 rather cruelly. Likely due to agitation of being locked up in SHU, or not wanting to further associate with people outside Vee's circle.
  • Passionate Sports Girl: She had a very bright athletic future in store before her arrest.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Treats (the potential) executing McCullough as this, and as appropriate retribution to the racism and abuse of power by the other guards.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: In Season 2, she becomes one of Vee's underlings, arguing that everyone in the prison is fucked up in some way, but with Vee she may as well get paid. It's not until she becomes aware of Vee's sociopathic tendencies that she turns against her.
  • Raised Muslim: Her parents were members of the Nation of Islam, and she had a difficult time in her teenage years as she drifted away from their religion.


Sophia Burset
"I've given five years, eighty thousand dollars and my freedom for this."
Portrayed By: Laverne Cox, M Lamar (pre-transition)

"Everybody acts cool most of the time, you know? "Oh, Sophia, hit me with the gossip", "What do you think about bangs, Sophia?" You start to feel like one of the girls. But then something turns and you realize you're still a freak and you'll never be one of them."

A transgender woman who went to prison for credit card fraud. Originally a firefighter named Marcus, Sophia was unhappy with living as a man and transitioned with the support of her wife Crystal. Sophia committed fraud to finance her operation and hormone therapy. She has a young son named Michael, who had difficulty with her transition.

  • A Day in the Limelight: "Lesbian Request Denied", her flashback episode.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Clearly loves her wife Crystal, but also expresses a passing interest in the handsome (and male) prison RN.
  • Broken Bird: By her time in SHU.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Her firefighter EMT training comes in handy when Humphrey gets shot and he needs medical attention. Season 7 shows her time as the prison stylist has helped her have a job as one.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Because of Laverne Cox's busy work schedule, the writers started to find ways of removing Sophia from the show for long stretches of time starting in Season 4, during which Sophia is mostly out of sight in the SHU. Season 5 gives her a lot of focus early on, but then she surrenders a few episodes in to get out of the riot and find Sister Ingalls. Early in Season 6 she's shown to be living in 'Florida' with Suzanne and Frieda, but then she doesn't reappear until toward the end of the season, when her subplot gets picked up again just in time for her to be released. She makes one final appearance near the end of Season 7, having set up her own salon, which Piper visits.
  • Deadpan Snarker: She can be plenty snarky.
  • Determinator: Don't get between her and her hormones because anything that stops her from being herself will not stand.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Her hypocricy and general unfriendly behaviour towards Gloria in season 3 got rewarded with severe transphobic violence and a trip to the SHU that lasted until beyond the season finale.
  • A Friend in Need: After being jumped by several inmates because of transphobic gossip spread by Aleida and finding her salon deserted, Sophia realizes that despite other inmates having acted social with her in a daily basis, Sister Ingalls is her only true friend.
    • She also maintains a degree of sympathy toward Gloria, going as far to save Humphrey on Gloria's request, despite their falling out.
  • Graceful Ladies Like Purple: In her flashback episode, when she comes out as trans to her wife and tries dressing like a woman for the first time, Sophia's wife Crystal informs her that she looks much better as a Proper Lady, and gives her a classy purple dress to try on.
  • Incompatible Orientation: With her wife. Sophia is a trans woman attracted to other women, while Crystal is a straight woman attracted exclusively to men. Despite her support, she asked Sophia to keep her penis in a flashback episode, but still stayed with her for Michael's sake. After Sophia is sent to prison, Crystal's heart eventually goes yonder. However they're still on very good terms.
    Sister Ingalls: Well, she married a man with a penis. I assume she wanted to use it occasionally.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: She eventually gives her blessing for her wife Crystal to date someone else.
  • Kick the Dog: Putting all the blame on Gloria and her son for Michael going wild, despite heaps of evidence that the source lied elsewhere, and not apologizing when it turned out Michael was the aggressive one. After the conflict escalated, Sophia found herself on the kicked on side when rumours spread by Aleida and general transphobia caused several prisoners to attack her.
  • Meta Casting: Sophia is possibly the highest-profile transgender character presented in the media who's actually portrayed by a trans actor. Her twin brother M Lamar plays her pre-transition self.
  • Never My Fault: When Michael starts to display delinquent behavior, Sophia chooses to blame it on Gloria's son's influence, completely ignoring the obvious effects which Michael's unstable family situation has on him, as well as her own not-so-family friendly-life-advices for him. While Benito may have introduced Michael to foul language, it's very clear that Michael has been very angry for a long time and finally turned out to be more thuggish than the other boy.
  • Odd Friendship: Though Sophia initially sidled up to Sister Ingalls to try and get her post-menopausal estrogen supplements, the two became legitimate friends.
  • Proper Lady: Some Sassy Black Woman moments with her salon customers aside, Sophia carries herself with much more class and grace compared to the other inmates. Even flashbacks from before prison show her dressing and carrying herself with elegance and poise.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: The unseen Danita is Sophia's only competition (for a certain value of competition) in hair care and she warns everyone about her and her inability to do hair without 'burning the shit out of your scalp'.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: Sophia is played by the actress' brother in the character's pre-transition flashbacks.
  • Transgender: She’s a trans woman.
  • Trans Tribulations: She manages not to undergo these in prison prior to Season 3, but before being in prison, her transgender identity strained and eventually ended the relationship with the woman she loved, her father disapproved of her and disowned her (and she never got the redemption she hoped for), and then she got sent to prison, implied to be around financial problems surrounding her transition. In Season 3, then, she watches her son's life go awry, she is attacked in a transphobic hate crime, and she spends months in Solitary.
  • Trauma Conga Line: In Season 3, she has to watch her son become more and more of a criminal without being able to do anything about it, has to deal with constant bullying, people learning the truth and eventually transphobic violence at the hands of fellow prisoners (that leaves her all but mutilated) and is ultimately PUNISHED FOR THE HATE CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST HER by being sent to solitary confinement. She isn't even present in the season's cheerful final scene, whereas all the people who were responsible for all her misery are.
    • Her time in the SHU for most of season 4 doesn't help her either, having spent months there until MCC is blackmailed into letting her out.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Three, actually; she's a black trans queer woman.
  • "Well Done, Dad" Girl: Has had a strained relationship with her son since she came out as transgender; and trouble with defining her new parental position, often defining herself still as his father, not the second mother. Much of her plot arc involves her and her son gradually bonding again.
  • "Well Done, Daughter" Girl: Implied with her own father, a conservative man who died while Sophia was incarcerated.


Yvonne "Vee" Parker
"If you're not building a future, it's because you don't believe there is a future."
Portrayed By: Lorraine Toussaint

A street-tough inmate who used to run a drug business, using kids as runners, she returns to jail after a long stint outside. She has a long history with many of the inmates, particularly Red, whom she had had beaten ruthlessly when attempting to take over her smuggling business, and Taystee, whom she had taken under her wing from an early age. Vee is ruthless and manipulative, more than willing to take on any naive young inmate or criminal and drop them when they are no longer of use to her.

  • Bad Boss: She lures her lackeys in with her charisma and savviness. Once they've become more or less dependent on her, she quickly shows her true colors.
  • Big Bad: Of Season 2.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Vee can put on a likable air, but she's a ruthless sociopath.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Referenced in Red's conversation with Gloria about a story of a scorpion and a frog. Eventually proven right.
  • Double Speak: During RJ's funeral, Vee comforts a crying Tastee by saying words to the effect of, "My baby got away. I won't let you get away too." Tastee takes this to mean Vee lost RJ to death, and she'll make sure nothing bad happens to Tastee too. Turns out she meant he "got away" when he started dealing drugs on his own, so she had him killed. Now she won't let Tastee get out from under her control either.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Red. Both are powerful figures within the prison who run smuggling operations and act at Team Mom to their respective groups, but while Red genuinely cares about her friends and protects them, Vee uses her people and coldly discards them.
  • Evil Matriarch: He's a motherly figure for Taystee, RJ and Suzanne whom she uses for criminal businesses. And is willing to throw under the bus all three of her 'children' when it suits her.
  • Evil Mentor: First to Taystee, then to Suzanne.
  • Fan Disservice: In the penultimate episode of season two, we get to see her topless. Awesome. Except it happens just after she has sex with her surrogate son just before she has him assassinated.
  • Fatal Flaw: Her inability to understand that Chronic Backstabbing Disorder tends to leave a person without any allies. Also, rudeness.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Vee never really raises her voice and is seemingly polite, yet she has no qualms about raising children to peddle drugs or ordering her followers to give out brutal beatings to anyone who gets in her way.
  • Foil: To Red. Where Red seems terrifying at first, but genuinely cares about those under her, Vee seems kind and compassionate at first, but only cares about herself, using the kids as mere pawns. If they ever go against her, she takes care of them.
  • Hyper-Awareness: She immediately figured out Suzanne's, Poussey's and Cindy's weaknesses and ways to use them for her advantage.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Vee is definitely shrewd. Tactless and a total bitch, but shrewd. And very perceptive.
    Vee '(to an obviously smitten Poussey): "Taystee.Will.Never.Love.You. She will never love you. Not the way you want."
  • Karmic Death: Run over by Rosa with the prison van because she was rude.
  • Kick the Dog: Has a number of moments that prove her coldness in Season 2. Among them include:
    • Fooling Taystee into thinking she had come around to serve as a mother figure to her, only to abandon her when Taystee's friend Poussey was becoming too much of a hassle.
    • Showing in a flashback that, after finding out a drug runner she'd raised since childhood was selling product on her block, she had sex with him and later got a dirty cop on her payroll to murder him. And after the boy had promised to cut Vee in on the profit, too.
    • Appearing to settle a truce with Red in the penultimate episode of Season 2, only to come back at the episode's end and beat Red within an inch of her life.
    • Subsequently letting Suzanne, her most devoted follower, take the fall for Red's beatdown, knowing that Suzanne would be unhinged enough to forego protesting from the crime for too long, at least in an understandable manner.
  • Knight of Cerebus: To spite all the main characters being criminals the prison was a relatively safe place before she showed up.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Vee is an expert manipulator, and quickly gets her hooks into Suzanne by acting the part of a Parental Substitute. She also manipulates Gloria by trading low-quality cigarettes for a high-quality cake which she uses to ingratiate herself among Taystee's friends.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Has one delivered on Red in Season 2's penultimate episode, after Red had let Vee live from their previous confrontation.
  • Offing the Offspring: A more metaphorical example. After she finds out that a drug runner she'd raised since childhood has begun running his own business on her block, she has him killed by a corrupt cop on her payroll.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: She goes by 'Vee'. The audience doesn't learn her name until the last episode of Season 2.
  • Parental Substitute: To Taystee and Suzanne, and also RJ in the past. Ultimately revealed to be the Evil Matriarch for all three of them.
  • Scary Black Woman: A black woman who is a stone-cold sociopath and adopts children solely so she can use them as drug runners, and will kill them if necessary.
  • Silver Vixen: She is in her fifties and in the very scene she's worrying about menopause, her surrogate son assures her that if not for their familial relationship, he would be very interested in having sex with her. And not long after that, he does.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Poussay suspects that Vee intentionally got herself locked up because prison is a much smaller place with fewer people to control, so she'll seem bigger and more powerful by comparison, whereas out there she's "too small-time for anyone to take serious."
  • Smart People Play Chess: Tells Suzanne that she needs to consider the long game while schooling her in chess.
  • Smug Snake: Vee fancies herself The Chessmaster but she's nowhere near as good at it as she thinks; her plans collapse in large part because she treats literally everyone she's not trying to exploit like shit.
  • The Sociopath: She knows exactly what to say to get to people psychologically and use that to make them work for her, and throws people away when they are no longer of any use. Vee doesn't appear to have real feelings for anyone. This point really gets nailed home when she has sex with one of her drug runners who she raised from childhood, only to have him killed by a dirty cop. Why? He sold drugs on her corners, even though he promised to cut her in on his profits.
  • Team Mom: Explicitly called this.
  • Villainous Breakdown: She starts seriously freaking out at the end of the season. She even tries rather hastily to be the nice mom and let Taystee come back to her fold. Unfortunately for her, Taystee and all the other girls see her for how much trouble she is and don't want any further part of her.
  • Villainous Incest: When Vee is showing just how ruthless she can be, she has sex with her adoptive son immediately before having him killed.

    Miss Claudette 

Miss Claudette Pelage
"Hope is a dangerous thing."
Played By: Michelle Hurst

Sharing the same cubicle with Piper, Miss Claudette is a woman who is very strict and feared at the prison. She treats Piper rudely when they are first assigned to live together due to her obsession with cleanliness and dislike of the messy situations Piper brings with her, but softens to her over time.

  • Bait-and-Switch: Played with but ultimately subverted. While you're led to believe that she was in for murder, her background story begins to tell her being in for human trafficking. But in the end, she killed a client who was abusing one of her girls, confirming the rumors.
  • Break the Haughty: Miss Claudette is The Stoic, with very high working standards and a nasty temper, who completely falls apart when her appeal gets denied and her love from childhood moves on without her.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Miss Claudette was forced into working as a maid from childhood to pay off her parents' debt after they smuggled her into the United States from Haiti. When she became a supervisor for the maid service as an adult, she found out that one of the girls in her charge was being violently abused by the family that she cleaned for (which was implied to be a regular hazard of the job).
  • A Day in the Limelight: "Imaginary Enemies", her flashback episode.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Starts off very severe with Piper before they bond and she shows her softer side.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Crosses it when her appeal is lost.
  • Did Not Get The Guy: Heartbreakingly so. Her long-time love marries another (younger) woman and when said woman unexpectedly dies and the man comes back to reunite with Claudette she loses her appeal and after attacking a guard out of despair, is sent to the max security prison.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Her flashback showed her treating cleaning the knife she'd just used to kill someone like a routine task.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Claudette is extremely strict and cold but once you earn her respect, she can be loyal and protective.
  • Mama Bear: As shown in "Imaginary Enemies," her crime was the murder of a man who had abused one of the girls under her care.
  • Neat Freak: She gives Piper a speech about cleanliness, then gets really angry when Crazy Eyes pees on the floor and Piper doesn't know how to clean it. She owned a maid service in her pre-prison life (and a semi-shady one, at that, seemingly bringing young Haitian women to serve until they had paid off the "debt" their parents had incurred in sending them to America). Although, given her back story, this might be a case of Out, Damned Spot!.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Miss Claudette is an older woman but still very stern. And when she became a supervisor as an older adult, she killed a man who was abusing her girls.
  • Put on a Bus to Hell: When her appeal failed, she attacked a guard in a fit of rage and despair. Attacking a guard is an instant transfer to maximum security—and most never get out.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Turns out she killed a man who'd been abusing the girls under her care.


Alison Abdullah
"I'll go ahead and assume Bernie Madoff speaks for your entire religion."
Played By: Amanda Stephen

  • Fiery Redhead: During the final episode of Season 4, she reveals to Black Cindy and Janae that her hair is flaming red underneath her hijab.
  • Hidden Depths: Played with. Her friends act like she's super secretive, but she rightfully responds that in most cases they simply "didn't ask".
  • In the Hood: As a Muslim, she always wears a hijab, which she's used to hide a cellphone.
  • Polyamory: Was in a polygamous marriage, and came to resent it. Ironically enough, she was the one who had suggested it to her initially reluctant husband.
  • Not So Above It All: Acts better than and more mature than Black Cindy, but immediately becomes part of a plot to take paparazzi pics of Judy King when the idea comes up. Also integrates into the black clique easily.
  • Not So Different:
    • To Black Cindy. They spend a couple episodes hating each other, and then immediately bond over the horribleness of Scientology and other fun subjects.
    • In Season 5, she and Sankey both share ideas about how to raise their daughters, and struggle with their partners sleeping with other women after initially approving of it.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: With Black Cindy, at first.
  • Tsundere: Is revealed to be this with her husband. Unlike her perky sister wife.


Adeola Chinede

Played By: Sipiwe Moyo

  • Badass Bookworm: Cultured and well-educated, but can be intimidating and will kill if it's necessary.
  • Beta Bitch: To Daya in season 7, they even intimidate the GED teacher along with their gang.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: A smart anthropologist who is also very quirky, though she loses her quirks in season 7.
  • The Dragon: Becomes Daya's right hand woman.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Comic relief in season 6, an antagonist in season 7.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Helps Daya to run her own drug business after Daddy's death.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Her main role in season 6, as she mainly appears to provide funny moments. Not so much in season 7.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Able to give detailed explanation with complicated words about different subjects.

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