The Handmaid’s Tale actress Samira Wiley made GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) history this weekend when she became the first gay black woman to win the Vito Russo Award, Deadline reported today. According to the report, the Vito Russo Award is given in honor of founding member Vito Russo to a LGBTQ media worker for helping to advocate for equality. Previous winners include Billy Porter (2017), George Takei (2014), Anderson Cooper (2013), Ricky Martin (2011), Cynthia Nixon (2010) and Tom Ford (2007).
According to Deadline, Wiley’s name was added to the prestigious list thanks to her advocacy in the community.
Notably, Wiley is known for playing two lesbian characters on TV, Poussey on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black and, currently, Moira on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
During her acceptance speech for the award, which was given by Handmaid’s Tale co-star Alexis Bledel, Wiley recounted coming out of the closet to her father.
“He stretched out his arms and hugged me with all of the love and the safety that he had always given me,” Wiley said.
She noted that while her parents showed her acceptance after coming out, many in the community are not as lucky.
“So often in the lives of young queer people, when they decide to make those terrifying and boldly courageous first fragile steps into living their lives as authentically as possible, the plans do change. Because of my parents I knew I was loved, and because of that, my plans, dreams, and goals all remained intact,” Wiley said.
The actress and advocate took it upon herself to inform young people struggling in this position that that they “are loved.”
“You have a community that is here for you, that is dedicated to protecting you, and accepts you for exactly who you are right [at] this moment,” Wiley told listeners.
Wiley has been married to Orange is the New Black writer Lauren Morelli since March 2017.
Check out the video below to see Wiley’s powerful acceptance speech at the GLAAD Media Awards in New York City Saturday: