Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson is a main character in Orange Is the New Black and is the secondary protagonist of the series. She is an inmate at Litchfield Penitentiary and is portrayed by Danielle Brooks.
Taystee is a very funny person, who mainly stays within the group of black inmates (especially with Poussey). She claims to prefer life in "the system" (i.e., group homes, juvenile prison, and Litchfield Penitentiary) over "the outside". Despite her less than ideal upbringing and often outrageous behavior, she is highly intelligent, and shows great ambition.
Physical Appearance Edit
Before Litchfield Edit
For a list of episodes featuring Taystee's flashbacks, see here.
Taystee grew up in the foster care system, due to her birth parents being fifteen years old and unable to care for her. At adoption fairs, she would attempt to show off to couples looking to adopt in hopes of her being adopted. At one group home adoption fair, Taystee was discovered by Vee, who was revealed to be a drug dealer (although she calls herself a "businesswoman"). Initially, Taystee wanted nothing to do with dealing drugs ("Looks Blue, Tastes Red"). Taystee was a state ward until she was 16 and then went to juvenile prison. According to her, she's been in institutions her entire life ("Fucksgiving").
She grew up in group homes and occasionally ran into Vee on the streets.
Taystee was given the information of her birth mother, Mia by her group home owner. Mia and Taystee met up; when Mia told Taystee the reason for giving her up (being too young), she was interrupted by Mia's partner and daughter. Taystee realized that Mia hadn't told her family about her, but nevertheless was asked to come live with her. Taystee told her group home friends that she was leaving, of whom didn't believe her until Mia drove up. Mia tearfully tells Taystee that it isn't a good time to live with her and her family. Taystee is furious and pulls Mia's hair. She storms off, distraught. ("Flaming Hot Cheetos, Literally")
Taystee tearfully appealed to Vee later that day. She wanted to be taken in by Vee to avoid going to another group home. Vee noticed Taystee's sharp math skills she acquired while working a fast food job. Vee decided to give her a chance to work as an "accountant" for her drug operation ("Looks Blue, Tastes Red").
Vee and Taystee, along with another adopted "son" RJ, became a tight-knit family unit. RJ later decided to go into business on his own and break away from Vee's business. This escalated to Vee ordering the murder of RJ through her crooked police officer friend ("It Was the Change").
Taystee was crushed that RJ had died. Vee lied to Taystee saying that RJ got himself killed by carrying a gun on him at night. Vee assured Taystee that she would not let this happen to any of her other "children" again ("Looks Blue, Tastes Red").
Taystee was eventually arrested and incarcerated at Litchfield, most likely for trafficking heroin for Vee's drug ring.
At Litchfield, she works in the library organizing and shelving books. She is well-read and likes watching the nature documentary Planet Earth. Taystee can also be aggressive, displayed when she gets in a fight with Flaca over ice cream.In order for Piper to get Shea butter, she trades a lock of her hair. Taystee then has Sophia put the blonde lock in Taystee's hair, which can be seen throughout Season One.
Taystee's release date is soon approaching. Black Cindy and her best friend Poussey both help her with a mock parole-board interview. She also gets her hair done by Sophia in order to look more professional.
Taystee has her parole meeting, and she learns that she is getting out. When she is released, she stays at a house with someone she was in foster care with. Taystee quickly realizes she cannot adjust to the fast-paced real world and strict demands of her probation, which has her sleeping on the floor of her second cousin, who does not want her there. It is later revealed that Vee was nowhere to be found during Taystee's release. She decides to violate her probation which puts her back at Litchfield.
She is seen singing in the Christmas Pageant with Black Cindy and Poussey ("Can't Fix Crazy").
Taystee wins the mock job fair, beating out Flaca in the final round. Fig informs Taystee that she did not win an actual job, but will instead have $10 added to her commissary. Taystee then sees Vee walk into the chapel after years of separation ("Looks Blue, Tastes Red").
After fooling around a bit on Poussey's bed, she suddenly gets kissed by her. She tells Poussey that she is sorry and explains that "they've already been through this." They just cuddle a little bit instead. Their relationship will be strained from this moment on.
After Vee's return to Litchfield, Taystee is fully captured in her daughter role. After Vee manipulates her to leave Poussey behind as her friend, she also uses her for her drug and cigarette dealing market. Taystee is made clear as being Vee's companion and a member of "the family", but after Poussey wrecks Vee's tobacco stash in a drunken rage, Vee ejects Taystee for not taking care of the threat that Poussey posed. Taystee realises she's been used and dropped by Vee, who was supposed to be her "mother". After dealing with her raw emotion, she begins warning the other girls of being endangered by her manipulations. It comes to the point where she openly stands up against her mother-figure, and, tired of Vee's psychopathic behavior, Watson and Cindy drop her too. Vee is the now one who is kicked out of the family, leaving her vulnerable and under suspicion by the feds for attacking Red. She escapes from Litchfield, only to be run over and killed by Miss Rosa, who has also escaped ("We Have Manners. We're Polite.").Finger in the Dyke").
After inmates outside of her black family begin to approach her with random problems, Taystee quickly realizes she has become the "mom" of her group. She is displeased with this newly found responsibility.
Taystee is made Caputo's assistant due to budget cuts ("(Don't) Say Anything"). Caputo tells Piscatella that he chose her because "she's the only semi-intelligent inmate I'm only semi-attracted to". They get along well enough and she is shown to be fairly competent at her job. She guesses Caputo's laptop password when he is away in Baltimore. As she now has access to the internet, Taystee googles her fellow inmates and reads online magazines, then eventually figures out she could sell a photo of celebrity chef inmate Judy King to celebrity tabloids for money for commissary. Using a smuggled cellphone, the black girls attempt to get a good picture. When Judy finds out, she offers to help in a selfish move to get herself protection and subterfuge after a racist video of her in the 80s is leaked.
In "The Animals", Poussey Washington is accidentally killed by CO Baxter Bayley when guards violently try to stop a peaceful protest. Taystee rushes to her dead body and cries while lying beside her. In her grief, Taystee goes to her office desk to keep her mind busy. She tries to help Caputo find General Washington's contact details and tries to keep Caputo from blaming Poussey in the official press announcement, like the guards and MCC want him to. When the crisis management officials tell Caputo to lock the prisoners in their dorms, Taystee hides behind her desk so she can hear his press announcement. She is enraged when Caputo goes off script and not only defends Bayley but announces he will return to work and fails to mention Poussey's name at all. She sneaks out of the office and incites a full scale prison riot. She is last seen standing at the front of the black girls group as every racial group crowds the hallways around two COs and Dayanara Diaz, who holds a gun one of the COs dropped. She aims it at him and Taystee screams at her to shoot him ("Toast Can't Never Be Bread Again").
Taystee returns to Caputo's office and punches him in response to his defense of CO Bayley. She and the black women hold Caputo and MCC publicist Josh hostage as they figure out their next move. Caputo expresses remorse for how he handled his speech to the media but also explains he did not want two tragedies - Poussey's death and Bayley being jailed. Taystee is unsympathetic, and forces Caputo to make another speech while she records him on an iPad. Eventually, Taystee records the message herself and expects the video to go viral quickly. Unfortunately, it does not, though Cindy is made into a meme. Taystee becomes frustrated when the messages they send out do not generate buzz. Eventually, Taystee and the black women hand over Caputo and Josh to the Spanish women.
Taystee then bargains with the white supremacists for ownership of a hostage Judy King, who she wants to use to make a statement to press gathering outside the prison. Janae disagrees with using a white person to speak for black people but Taystee persists (using Josh to help form the statement). Judy begins reading the statement but Taystee realises Janae is right and reads the statement herself. She also sets Judy free at the end of her speech.
Taystee clashes with Suzanne and Soso's alternative methods of grieving, feeling that they are more concerned with making themselves feel better than memorializing Poussey. Soso decides to build a shrine made from books and Taystee respects the memorial.
When Natalie Figueroa is sent into the prison to negotiate, Taystee fights for the inmates demands to be met. She brings in Caputo to help plead their case, and becomes aware of the sexual relationship between the two. As negotiations continue, Cindy and Janae beg Taystee to help them with Suzanne, who is becoming more erratic without medication or a routine. Taystee refuses to help as she wants to focus on the demands. Cindy is forced to improvise and risks Suzanne's life by giving her lithium which sends her into a deep slumber.
When Taystee is given the option to surrender if all demands except Bayley being charged are met, Taystee refuses. As she turns the offer down, Maria is setting the hostage COs free. Soon after, a SWAT team storms the prison and Taystee watches in horror as Janae and Alison are arrested. She manages to escape with Cindy and a drugged up Suzanne to Frieda's secret bunker. Suzanne is saved by an EpiPen injection. Taystee is enraged when she enters the main room of the bunker and sees Piscatella, currently held hostage by Red. She grabs a gun from Freida and aims it at Piscatella, telling him he's the reason Poussey was killed. The other inmates beg her not to shoot and eventually Taystee breaks down in tears, exclaiming "I miss her so much". She joins Red, Piper, Alex, Nicky, Cindy, Suzanne, Gloria, Frieda and Blanca in their final stand-off. Her fate is left unknown.
- Poussey Washington (best friend; deceased) – Taystee and Poussey are shown to be close friends throughout their time together in Litchfield. Taystee rejects Poussey romantically, informing her she is not a lesbian and doesn't share the same feelings. After Vee's death, they remained best friends until Poussey's death which affected her severely.
- Black Cindy (friend) – Taystee asks Cindy to help her with her interview on being released, which Cindy does. After that, Cindy and Taystee become good friends.
- Janae Watson (friend) – When Janae first arrives, she meets Poussey and Taystee in the cafeteria. The two talk about Miss Claudette, and Piper butts in on the conversation and receives confused looks from the girls. Watson, Taystee and Cindy are usually inseparable, always eating together and spending most of their time together.
- Suzanne Warren (friend, daughter figure) – When Vee first arrives, she empowers Suzanne to stop grovelling for white women's approval and start associating with other black women instead. Taystee is able to communicate with Suzanne more effectively than the others and helps her through her mental illness. Suzanne often eats with the other black girls. Similar to Vee, when Suzanne once again allows a white woman to walk all over her, Taystee encourages Suzanne to stay away from her and not buy into her emotional manipulation.
- Brook Soso (friend) – Taystee accepts Soso into the black girls group as it means she will be able to repair her friendship with Poussey, who wants to date Soso. Their relationship is strained after Poussey's death in season four, because Brook and Taystee have vastly different ways of grieving. When Brook makes a memorial for Poussey, they bury the hatchet and hug.
- Alison Abdullah (friend) - When Abdullah comes to Litchfield in Season Four, Taystee and the other black girls take to her, apart from Cindy who constantly wars with her. Eventually, Cindy and Alison draw a truce, and the latter becomes part of the group.
- Kasey Sankey (riot participant, questionable) - Kasey and Taystee allied to defeat Piscatella along with the other inmates, but Kasey is extremely racist. However, Kasey's attitude seems to soften as she develops a grudging respect for Taystee.
- Joe Caputo (boss) - In Season Four, Caputo hires Taystee as his receptionist. They get along fairly well and Caputo secretly tells Piscatella he is "semi-attracted" to Taystee. During Caputo's press announcement regarding Poussey's death, Taystee hides behind her desk in order to hear the speech as it happens. She is enraged when Caputo alludes to Poussey being responsible for her killing and does not state Poussey's name at all. She sneaks out of the office and incites a riot involving every inmate at Litchfield. It is unknown whether she will forgive Caputo for his speech (and it is unknown to her that his speech was actually going against MCC's pre-written speech, which was full of lies).
- Piper Chapman - Piper offers Taystee a small strand of her hair in season one for a trade deal for Sophia. After that, Taystee and Piper became good friends.
- Maria Ruiz
- Nicky Nichols
- Frieda Berlin
- Blanca Flores
- Alex Vause
- Gloria Mendoza
- Vee (adoptive mother figure) – Taystee and Vee had a very complicated relationship. Vee was one of the only people to give Taystee a true family and take her in as her own. However, after Taystee was released from Litchfield, Vee was nowhere to be found. Upon the two both returning to prison, the relationship became that much more complicated. Taystee ultimately turned away from Vee after the latter became violent towards Poussey and broke apart their prison family. Taystee broke down in tears after hearing of Vee's passing, revealing how much Vee truly meant to her.
- The veteran COs - They treat all the prisoners with disrespect, but Dixon in particular targets Taystee by smashing the watch Caputo gave Taystee, purely to hurt her. When Daya aims a gun at Thomas Humphrey, Taystee encourages her to shoot him.
- Natalie Figueroa
- Desi Piscatella
- Baxter Bayley
The character of "Taystee" is based on a real life prison inmate from the novel and memoir Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison which the television series is loosely based on, who is named "Delicious". Delicious is described as being African-American and frequently likes to sing. The character of Taystee is one of only a handful of characters from the TV series to be loosely based on a real-life person.
Memorable Quotes Edit
- "That's bullshit, shit to the bull."
- — Tasha Jefferson
- "So I'm sitting there, barbecue sauce on my titties, and I'm like 'What the fuck? Again?"
- — Tasha Jefferson
- "Learned? I ain't learned nothing. I came in this motherfucker innocent, and I'm still innocent."
- — Tasha Jefferson
- "Got that new 'do, boo!"
- — Tasha Jefferson
- "Everyone I know is poor, in jail or gone."
- — Tasha Jefferson
- "The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean place."
- — Tasha Jefferson
- "This ain't The fucking Help, bitch! But you will eat my shit!"
- — Tasha Jefferson
- "Them cracker meth-head bitches won't let us change the channel! And it's our turn! I can't watch no more Toddlers and Tiaras."
- — Tasha Jefferson
- "Fucking J.K. Rowling! Some punk-ass publisher read Harry fucking Potter and was like "nope!"."
- — Tasha Jefferson
- "A bunch of bitches going to Seg."
- — Taystee to Poussey in the Season Three finalé when they see the inmates running towards the lake.