5 Things You Should Know About OITNB’s Real-Life Alex

In anticipation of Orange Is the New Black season three, we read Out of Orange, the memoir by Cleary Wolters—the woman who inspired the character of Alex Vause

(PHOTO: JILL GREENBERG/NETFLIX)
(PHOTO: JILL GREENBERG/NETFLIX)

As everyone knows, the crazy-addictive Netflix drama Orange Is the New Black was inspired by a memoir of the same name by Piper Kerman, who winds up in prison after getting involved in a drug-smuggling ring with her girlfriend (or not): Nora in the book, Alex on the show. But Cleary Wolters, the real-life Nora/Alex, recently released her own memoir, Out of Orange. In anticipation of Orange season three (hurry up, Friday!), we gave it a read; here are a few things we learned about the “real woman behind the glasses.”

clearywolters-outoforange
Out of Orange by Cleary Wolters (HarperCollins)

1. Wolters looks nothing like her TV alter-ego. 
The only physical resemblance between Wolters and Alex is their signature black-rimmed frames. At the end of her book, Wolters actually thanks OITNB creator Jenji Kohan and actress Laura Prepon, who plays Alex, for making her tall on TV. (For that matter, Wolters writes that Alex is missing a few more essential ingredients: “regret, contrition, faith and hope.”)

cleary-alex
Cleary Wolters and Laura Prepon (Photos: HarperCollins; Rex Shutterstock)

2. Unlike Piper and Alex, Wolters and Kerman didn’t serve time in the same prison.   
Wolters, charged with conspiracy to import heroin, spent almost six years in a California prison; Kerman served 13 months in Connecticut. The only time they were locked up together was a five-week stint at a detention centre while they were waiting to testify. (Also, they never hooked up behind bars.)

LAURA PREPON AND TAYLOR SCHILLING (PHOTO: REX_SHUTTERSTOCK)
LAURA PREPON (Alex) AND TAYLOR SCHILLING (Piper) on OITNB (PHOTO: REX_SHUTTERSTOCK)

3. Wolters wasn’t the one who introduced Kerman to drug smuggling.  
As Kerman describes in her memoir, that was Wolters’ sister Hester, but she’s absent from the TV version of events.

4. Wolters did not snitch on Kerman. 
According to Wolters, the drama surrounding whether or not Alex snitched on Piper is pure (and entertaining) fiction.

TAYLOR SCHILLING AND LAURA PREPON (PHOTO: REX_SHUTTERSTOCK)
TAYLOR SCHILLING (Piper) AND LAURA PREPON (alex) on OITNB (PHOTO: REX_SHUTTERSTOCK)

5. Wolters is a huge fan of the show.
Despite the many inconsistencies between her real-life experience and the show’s plot, Wolters binge-watched the first season. Pass the potato chips and join the club, Cleary! We’ll see you on the other side.

Watch Laura Prepon and Taylor Schilling talk OITNB season three

Related: 
10 Times OITNB Gave Us All the Feels, Ranked
Yael Stone Reveals 10 Secrets From the Set of OITNB
Laverne Cox Talks OITNB Season Three
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