Samira Wiley Interview: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’
“It never, ever, ever gets old,” admits Emmy winner Samira Wiley about her third consecutive Emmy nomination for her portrayal of former handmaid Moira on “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
“I’ve been in quarantine for so long that when my agent called me on the morning of, I picked up the phone, and he doesn’t usually call me that early, and he was like ‘so, apparently you just got nominated for an Emmy!’ and because I’ve been sitting on my couch for the past six months I literally was confused and I was like ‘wait, for what? I haven’t been doing anything,” she laughs. Watch our exclusive video interview with Wiley above.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” is based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood, adapted by Emmy-winning writer Bruce Miller in which Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss stars as June, one of thousands of handmaids, enslaved to give birth for the barren Gilead ruling class in a near-future dystopian America. The series’ intense third season follows June and her resistance against the regime and their clandestine efforts to transport children to freedom across the border to Canada. Awaiting those children are June’s husband Luke (O-T Fagbenle) and fellow refugee Moira (Wiley), who have custody of baby Nichole, the child that June successfully smuggled across the border last season in the arms of another former handmaid Emily (Alexis Bledel).
The show’s third season scored 6 Emmy nominations this year, including for Best Drama Series. To date, “The Handmaid’s Tale” has amassed 44 nominations and has won 14 Emmys, including the top drama prize in 2017. The show’s actors have won at least one Emmy in each year that the show has been eligible (Moss, Ann Dowd and Bledel won in 2017, Wiley won in 2018, and Cherry Jones and Bradley Whitford won in 2019). This year, Wiley, Bledel and Whitford are back as nominees and may continue the show’s winning streak.
Wiley is back in the supporting category, where she contended on her first nomination in 2017. The actress won in 2018 when she contended in the guest category and became the youngest all-time winner in that category since its inception in 1989.
Gold Derby exclusively revealed last week that Wiley has entered the penultimate episode of season 3 (“Sacrifice”) as her 2020 Emmy Awards submission for Best Drama Supporting Actress. In it, Moira and Luke bring baby Nichole to briefly see the Waterfords (Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski), who are being detained in Canada for war crimes.
During the climactic meeting, a disgusted Moira berates Serena, revealing that her husband raped her back in Gilead and accusing her of being the real gender traitor. “That line is so perfect, it’s so apt,” Wiley says. “I think about the women in Gilead and how there’s this false sense of superiority between the wives an the handmaids, whereas I feel like the real reality, if we all understood that we are women an we are under this collective oppressor and the power we could have if we all came together,” Wiley explains, adding that ultimately “Serena has betrayed her sex. Just because I love a woman doesn’t make me a gender traitor. You need to look in the mirror.”