In a recent episode of The Handmaid's Tale, we met Noelle. Her pre-Gilead life showed her as a young single mom struggling to raise her son, whose dedicated teacher Miss Clements (a.k.a. Aunt Lydia) tried to “reform” her. We were racking our brains to figure out why actress Emily Althaus looked so familiar, and thankfully, Reddit gave us the answer.
“Anybody else catch that Noelle was played by the actress who was Kukudio on OITNB?” wrote imadethisjusttosub. “We are up to at least 3 actresses in common now.”
Aha! we thought to ourselves. Noelle (or rather, Emily Althaus) was Maureen Kukudio, an inmate at Litchfield Penitentiary on Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black (which just became available to stream on July 26).
As the original poster stated, however, Emily isn’t the only actress on both OITNB and The Handmaid’s Tale. Samira Wiley and Madeline Brewer also got their big breaks on the show about women at a Connecticut prison.
Samira played the kindhearted bookworm named Poussey Washington, but Handmaid’s fans know her as the Handmaid-turned-Jezebel-turned free woman named Moira.
And Handmaid’s breakout star Janine is known for losing her eye at the hands of Aunt Lydia. If you’ve never spotted her portraying a Handmaid, however, you likely recall her with blonde cornrows as Tricia Miller in OITNB.
If you’re shocked by this revelation, know you’re not alone. Commenters on this Reddit thread were losing their minds over this connection.
“IM SHOOK literally did not put it together until reading your comment,” wrote LecstasySuicide.
People were particularly floored that Janine and Tricia Miller were the same person. Janine is now rocking an eye patch and red hair, so it’s no surprise that putting two and two together took this long.
Luckily, Handmaid’s has allowed all of these characters to live on (for now …). But sadly, all three of these characters have died on OITNB. It’s unclear whether we’ll find out Noelle’s fate, but it’s likely she became a Handmaid as well. If that’s the case, all three of these women have played prisoners at least twice. Once in a more realistic, modern format (OITNB) and another time in a fictional, dystopian world (Handmaid’s).
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