Why Taystee Is the Best Orange Is the New Black Inmate

She almost makes us want to go to prison.

By Colleen Thornhill

With one of the largest ensemble casts on Netflix, Orange Is the New Black has a long list of characters (and actors) for us to love. It’s sometimes difficult to pick a favorite, but there’s always been one Litchfield inmate who’s stood out season after season, both for her heart and her ability to make us laugh, and that’s Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson (played by Danielle Brooks, who celebrates her 26th birthday today). From her talent for referencing any book in any situation, to her ability to make even prison life seem like a party we’re missing out on, Taystee kind of maybe sort of makes us to want to pay a visit to Litchfield Penitentiary. Here’s a breakdown of what makes Taystee our favorite Litchfield inmate.

  • 1 She knows how to celebrate the little things.
    Even though Taystee is in prison, she still knows how to celebrate life. You got a new ’do? Celebrate, boo.

  • 2 She tells a good story.
    Taystee crashes Alcoholics Anonymous classes so she can practice her storytelling skills. You’ve got to give her credit for being both resourceful and shameless.

  • 3 She stands up for what’s right.
    Even in prison, Taystee follows her moral compass. She won’t stand for trash television and the showing of Toddlers and Tiaras.

  • 4 But she’s not an extremist.
    She’s still well-rounded enough to recognize the pros in a sea of cons, like great dresses amidst inappropriate-aged children.

  • 5 She can hold her ground.
    Once Taystee gets her way, she holds onto her prize. You can try to challenge her, but she’ll stick up for herself and put you in your place at the same time.

  • 6 She doesn’t settle.
    Taystee’s confidence enables her to set her goals higher. We could all learn from her.

  • 7 She’s always around for her friends when they need some cheering up.
    Which is definitely a trait you want and need from a prison pal.

  • 8 And she’s happy to do a little role playing.
    Taystee’s skills at imitating white women with her friend Poussey should really be featured in a prison talent show…if that’s a thing.

  • 9 But she knows when to get serious.
    Never, ever use a Harry Potter book as a step stool around Taystee.

  • 10 Her love of Harry Potter goes far beyond just the basic plotlines, so really, don’t mess with it.
    She loves the books so much, she can seamlessly work them into everyday conversations.

  • 11 But she’s well read in all sorts of literary genres, thanks to her passion for her job in the prison library.
    Such knowledge makes it easy for her to put people in their place with subtle literary references.

  • 12 She also knows quality food.
    If someone steals your King Cone, you have the right to get very angry. Taystee will back you up on that.

  • 13 Candy is one of her favorites.
    Candy counts as a food group, right?

  • 14 Second to candy is dancing.
    Taystee loves to dance for no reason. She’s the friend who forces you off the couch on a Friday and makes you go out. Or in this case, off your prison cot and into the common area. We all need that friend who gets us out of our comfort zone.

  • 15 No, but really, look how good of a dancer she is.
    The appeal of Taystee just cannot be denied. Can we join in on her dance party?