Last weekend at HRC’s 2015 North Carolina Gala, HRC was proud to award “Orange is the New Black” actress Samira Wiley with the Visibility Award.

At the event, Wiley, who is openly lesbian, shared her story of being accepted by both of her parents and her desire to pave the way for young queer women to follow in her footsteps.

“I believe that our self worth and how we are taught to think about ourselves and the world around us almost always begins at home,” she said. “I have two parents that not only tolerated who I am, but accepted me and embraced me. They embraced me before I came out, and they embraced me after. They told me everyday that I am enough. I am enough just of being who I am and that that alone makes me whole.”

The 27-year-old actress, who has shot to fame for her role as Poussey Washington in the hit Netflix show, has embraced the power of being publicly out and visible as an LGBT person.

“It’s interesting to me that tonight I am here receiving the visibility award…Over the past few years since my own public image has increased tenfold, I have been overwhelmed to witness the profound ways that I am able to make a difference simply by living my life openly and with love.”

Watch the rest of Wiley’s speech below. 


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