Samira Wiley celebrates her 10 year anniversary of coming out at the GLAAD Media Awards

Samira Wiley received the Vito Russo Award and sent a powerful message to LGBTQ youth at the GLAAD Media Awards in NYC on May 5. The award was presented to her by costar in The Handmaids Tale, Alexis Bledel, who spoke about Wiley's impact, saying: "With her roles on TV, and the way she carries herself alongside her wife Lauren in real life, I credit Samira with bringing powerful LGBTQ visibility to Hollywood and to our world."

Samira Wiley accepted the award and in her speech, sent a powerful message of support to LGBTQ youth: "You are loved. You have a community that is here for you. Is dedicated to protecting to you. And accepts you for exactly who you are, right in this moment."

The Vito Russo Award is presented to an openly LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting LGBTQ acceptance. The Award is named for Vito Russo, a founder of GLAAD and celebrated ACT UP activist, who pushed open the door for news and entertainment industries to include LGBTQ performers and stories. Previous Vito Russo honorees include Anderson Cooper, Ricky Martin, RuPaul, Cynthia Nixon, Rosie O’Donnell, Tom Ford, Billy Porter, Thomas Roberts, Suze Orman, and Alan Cumming, among others.

Ross Mathews hosted the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City which included a duet from LGBTQ icons Adam Lambert and Melissa Etheridge. Ava DuVernay received the Excellence in Media Award from Senator Cory Booker and Ms. Gloria Carter received a special recognition from Robin Roberts for her son JAY-Z's song "Smile." Presenters during the event included Tituss Burgess, Laverne Cox, Lea Michele, Nyle DiMarco, Asia Kate Dillon, Nico Tortorella and stars of NBC's Rise. 

Wiley can currently be seen portraying LGBTQ character Moira on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, a role that earned her Emmy and NAACP Image Award nominations. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Wiley portrays a woman faced with an uncertain future in a time when being queer is outlawed. The Handmaid’s Tale is nominated this year for Outstanding Drama Series.

Wiley is also well-known for her SAG Award-winning performance as inmate Poussey on Orange Is the New Black, where she played a beloved LGBTQ character, who quickly became a fan favorite. Wiley can be seen next in the independent film Social Animals.

Wiley married Orange Is the New Black writer Lauren Morelli – who she met on set – in 2017. Morelli came out in 2014 and credited the 2014 GLAAD Media Awards, where GLAAD’s President and CEO encouraged the audience to live their lives openly and with love, in plain view of any opposition. Wiley shared touching moments from their honeymoon on her popular Instagram account – a powerful show of love and visibility. The couple was also one of the first interracial female couples to be featured by Martha Stewart Weddings. Wiley regularly posts LGBTQ-affirming messages to her social channels – memorably sharing images from the many Pride festivals she attends. Wiley was also one of Out Magazine’s OUT100 in 2017 for her work and the visibility she brought as an out woman of color.

“Samira Wiley’s moving and heartfelt portrayals of LGBTQ women have been groundbreaking and inspirational,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO. “We live in a time when those living at multiple marginalized intersections are most in need of visibility, and Samira brings that visibility with talent, conviction, and grace.”

The 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards are presented by Delta Air Lines, Gilead, Ketel One Family-Made Vodka, and Wells Fargo. The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of the LGBTQ community and the issues that affect their lives. The GLAAD Media Awards also fund GLAAD's work to amplify stories from the LGBTQ community and issues that build support for equality and acceptance.