Orange Is the New Black: Meet the Real-Life Alex Vause

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Behind those prison walls! Fans of Netflix's Orange Is the New Black can't help but get swept away in the personal lives of Piper Chapman and the other Litchfield Correctional inmates, but in truth, Piper's real-life stay in prison — and her life with the ex-girlfriend who helped land her there — is far from as seen on TV. In fact, the original Alex Vause — 50-something former felon Cleary Wolters — tells HuffPost Live that her romance with Piper Kerman (Taylor Schilling's character Piper Chapman on the series) was far too brief to be noteworthy.


taylor schilling and laura prepon OITNB season 3
Taylor Schilling and Laura Prepon in season 3 of Netflix's "Orange is the New Black." JoJo Whilden/Netflix

"I'm flattered that they picked out me in her life as such an interesting, charismatic character that they had to make a whole backstory about me," Wolters, whose story is brought to OITNB through Laura Prepon, said. "I never imagined I'd be Donna from That 70s Show. When I watch that part of the series, I watch it as a viewer. I don't say 'that's my life.'"

"There are hints of reality in the show, and maybe I'm just seeing them because I want to see them so much, but there are things that make me think 'Is Piper consulting on this? Is she telling them things?' The glasses were a dead giveaway [that Laura Prepon is me], so I immediately recognized it in the commercial," said Wolters, who served 65 months of a 94-month sentence for drug smuggling. "Taylor Schilling does a great job of being Piper. Piper's a little less deer in the headlights, though." (Wolters and Kerman were only in the same prison facility for five weeks, mostly in Chicago in 2005.)

Other differences between OITNB and real prison life? There's much less sex — at least out in the open. "There is sex occurring, but it's not happening in the showers without a shower curtain. if you get caught having sex, you go to . . . solitary confinement. I never saw it. In fact, I might have stayed had that been the case. There'd be a line to get into prison if it were as fun as Orange Is the New Black shows it to be."

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