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Between her breakout role as the beloved Poussey on Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black to her Emmy-nominated turn as Moira in Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Samira Wiley is one of streaming TV’s brightest stars. And her personal style is as striking as the characters she plays; Wiley’s popped up on red carpets wearing everything from metallic matching sets to gorgeous gowns by her good friend Christian Siriano (for whom she’s served as a campaign face).
When she’s not in front of the cameras, Wiley prefers a more casual combo of denim, Air Jordans, and quirky hats. But while her clothes might be low-maintenance, the actress seriously geeks out over skincare. We caught up with her after the launch party for American Express’s Pay It Plan It program to discuss her favorite beauty products, the serendipitous tale behind her favorite hat, and what went into the stunning dress she wore to marry her wife, writer Lauren Morelli.
Hey Samira! Tell me about the last great thing you bought yourself.
Overalls! I’m really into overalls right now. I’m so glad that ’90s style is back — I’ve been embracing it wholeheartedly. I just got a pair of black overalls from Urban Outfitters that I’ve been wearing everywhere. I love Urban Outfitters because it’s not that expensive, and it’s got cool, trendy stuff.
I’m not really a big spender. I never really liked to shop when I was younger, and going to stores usually makes me anxious! Shopping online is easier for me.
How would you describe your personal style?
I’ve always wanted to wear things that I feel comfortable in and that also make a statement. My style icons are André 3000, who’s just the perfect example of androgynous beauty, and Janelle Monáe. They both have great style and just exude individuality. Sometimes I wish I had the courage to dress a little more like them — you know, bright colors, bold prints.
I definitely like to make a statement with my shoes. I grew up in the church, so I’m used to wearing heels for many hours at a time, but I usually go for a sneaker. I wear a lot of Jordans! For me, it’s about contrast, so if I’m wearing a suit or a blazer, I’ll put on some basketball shoes. I love to switch it up like that.
I was recently in San Diego, though, and we stopped at this men’s dress shoe place and I got these amazing shoes. They’re by Sartori Gold, and I’ve been wearing those a lot.
I can tell by your Instagram that you also love hats. Tell me about your favorite one.
It’s kind of a magical story, actually. I was in Austin for a TV festival, and I happened to be at this Tex-Mex place eating queso, having the greatest time, and this guy at the table next to me had on the most amazing hat. So I complimented him on it — and he gave it to me! He was like, “This is my gift to you.”
Turns out, he was a milliner; his name is Matt Deckard, and he was a designer for Stetson at the time. He had made the hat himself! And it’s my favorite hat in the whole world because when someone asks me where they can get something I’m wearing, my favorite answer to be able to give is, “You can’t.” [Laughs]
What’s your beauty routine like?
I’m always interested in trying new skincare. I love finding things to calm and soothe my skin at the end of the day, since I’m always getting my makeup done. That’s something new for me! I try to think of [hair and makeup] as pampering time, though, like getting a massage or something. When you’re about to be on a red carpet, it’s a nice calm before the chaos.
But the product I use the most, the one I live by, is the Colbert MD Illumino Anti-Aging Brightening Face Mask. It keeps your skin feeling light and fresh and taut for a long while after you’ve used it. You can massage the extra serum into your neck and arms, too, so it leaves your whole body glowing — not just your face.
I’ll use Bioderma Sensibio H2O to cleanse in the morning instead of soap. I also like Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel. And for haircare — well, I’m honestly new to having hair right now, but I’ve been using Shea Moisture.
You got married earlier this year — congratulations! Tell me about your gorgeous Christian Siriano dress.
Christian’s a friend, and honestly as soon as we knew we were getting married, he was the first person we thought of. So Lauren and I went to his studio one day, and the three of us had a conversation about what we wanted, and immediately Christian made this beautiful sketch, right before our eyes — he did it in pen, too! — and we collaborated from there.
I had the idea of it being two pieces, so I could wear one skirt to the ceremony and a different one to the after-party, but he saw the vision for the off-the-shoulder bodice and the gorgeous cape for Lauren. He can envision these things immediately when he looks at your body, and he makes dresses for so many types of bodies, which is something I really applaud him for.
Absolutely. I also loved that you changed into a Wu-Tang Clan tank top for the after-party.
[Laughs] That wasn’t planned — I just couldn’t move as well as I wanted to in the dress, so I changed! It’s funny: Apparently Lauren had bets going with a bunch of people that I was going to end up in jeans by the end of the night.