Alex's character is based on Nora (who is really called Catherine Cleary Wolters) in the memoir, Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison.
Alex Vause is snarky, manipulative and street smart. While she does associate with other inmates, she keeps to herself emotionally, although she isn't afraid to fight back if provoked. Alex is often seen with a book in hand as she loves reading. Alex is good at reading people and is perceptive. Both Alex and Piper betray each other for personal gain, despite their feelings for each other. Alex relies on Piper just as much as Piper relies on her, but she uses her hard demeanor to hide it all, only showing weakness on rare occasion to close friends such as Nicky. Alex has good survival skills, is very smart and calm and usually has a good sense of humor when facing problems.
Alex Vause is a tall (5'10"), athletically built woman. In "Thirsty Bird" Piper, incorrectly, states that Alex is 5'9, usually wearing dark eyeliner and her eyebrows plucked. She wears glasses with thick black frames (described as secretary glasses by Piper). She has a penchant for dark lipstick when seen in flashbacks. She is a fan of tattoos and displays quite a few proudly. She has a salt shaker tattoo in the back of her left shoulder, big red rose tattoos on her right shoulder, a tattoo on her right wrist, small tattoos on her left arm, a large tattoo on her right and a shooting star down her side. She has long black hair which previously had blue streaks in it (as seen in flashbacks).
For a list of episodes featuring Alex's flashbacks, see here.
Before Litchfield Edit
Alex is the daughter of Diane Vause and Lee Burley. Vause was raised by her mother solely, as her father, a "rock star", wasn't aware of her existence. Alex's mother worked four jobs to support them; nevertheless, they still struggled financially and Alex suffered bullying from her peers (notably Jessica Wedge) due to this. Her mother tried to console her, pointing out that her father was famous and she could use this knowledge to remain strong in the face of torment.
When she was older, Alex tracked down her father and, facing bitter disappointment at finding him an underwhelming, drug-taking washed up old star whose life still revolved around his former glory, struck up a friendship with his drug dealer Fahri. He subsequently became her industry contact in a drug cartel led by kingpin Kubra Balik. Alex then worked as a smuggler and dealer for many years.
She later took a sexual interest in Piper Chapman after meeting her in a bar. Alex was living with her girlfriend Sylvia at the time, but Alex eventually broke up the relationship and began dating Piper. Alex gradually integrated Piper into the drug trade while they traveled the world living in luxury. Vause once convinced Piper to smuggle cash through customs at an airport in Europe, the crime for which Piper is doing time. Vause specifically named Piper during her testimony, which is what led to Piper's later arrest. After Piper broke up with her, Vause began using heroin (she was sent to rehab by Kubra to get clean shortly after). She appears to have moments of depression, telling Nicky that she can no longer "get past the swirling darkness in her brain long enough to land on anything" and mentioning to Piper that upon entering prison, she was on anti-depressants, which she now trades for black eyeliner.
Vause's mother died from an aneurysm during Vause and Chapman's relationship; Alex finds this out just as Piper is preparing to leave her. Alex presumes that the break-up will be on hold whilst she deals with her death and attends the funeral, but Piper abandons her, refusing to stay around for support even though she is the only real friend that Alex has. Alex cites this as the reason she later named Piper, as that was the last time they had seen each other and Alex still felt betrayed.
Vause's first encounter with her ex-girlfriend in prison is not positive. Piper refuses to acknowledge her due to her assumption that Alex named her and is, therefore, the cause of her arrest, but Alex insists that she had not named her as a suspect.
After Chapman has gotten on bad terms with Red and is refused meals, Alex takes it upon herself to give her a piece of cornbread. Although Piper throws her offering away, it showed the level of feelings Vause still has for her ex-lover. She is then punished by Red herself for giving Piper food by enduring the punishment as Piper. She is starved out until she gives Red a foot massage for 45 minutes.
After Larry Bloom lies to Piper on the advice of his father, telling Piper that Alex did not name her as an accomplice, Alex and Piper reconcile.
During Taystee's goodbye party, Alex and Piper dance together provocatively. Pennsatucky, the homophobic religious fanatic who hates both Piper and Alex, reports them to Sam Healy, also fabricating a lie that she has seen the pair having sex in the showers that morning. As a result, he has Piper thrown into the SHU. She is later released by Joe Caputo when it became clear that the punishment was unjustified. Upon release, Piper finds Alex in her dorm and pulls her into the chapel where they then proceeded to have sex ("Fucksgiving"). They continue their love affair until Larry reveals that she had actually named Piper as a suspect.
During the last episode of the season, Piper admits to Alex that she chooses Larry over her, which results in Alex shutting her out completely, and telling Piper that Piper doesn't get to run to her anymore. Larry unexpectedly visits Alex hoping to confront her about Piper. Alex reveals to Larry that it was Piper that initiated their fling, saying, "She came to me". Larry ends the engagement to Piper and she goes running to Alex for comfort but is rebuffed as promised. Before the Christmas pageant, Alex and Nicky Nichols, whom Alex has gotten for Secret Santa are sexually intimate in her bunk ("Can't Fix Crazy").
Alex Vause does not have many appearances in the second season. In their trial, despite saying she wouldn't and urging Piper to do the same, she named the prime drug lord, Kubra Balik, but the court failed to have him arrested due to misplaced evidence. She got released due to a plea deal, while Piper had to return to Litchfield. Alex became scared of what would happen to her due to the fact that she was living on her own with no security or protection and her murderous ex-boss who was seeking revenge. She often sent letters and a Valentine to Piper, telling her how sorry she was, but Chapman, still angry, either threw them away or disregarded them. In the season finale, Vause got arrested again thanks to Piper convincing Polly to inform Alex's probation officer of her plans to skip town, which violated her probation. This was further complicated by Alex having had a gun when the probation officer arrived at her apartment.
Alex arrives back at Litchfield embarrassed and questions Piper on why she is back. Piper later admits that Alex got back due of her actions, and the two have hate sex. This continues until "Empathy Is a Boner Killer", when Alex forgives Piper during drama class when new counselor Berdie Rogers has them act out an improv scene between a manager and an unhappy customer who purchased bruised fruit. Afterwards, however, Alex is no longer able to hurt Piper during sex, which makes Piper less interested in being intimate with her.
When a new inmate, Lolly Whitehill, starts to obsessively observe Alex, she becomes very paranoid, thinking she has been sent by Kubra to kill her. She eventually confronts Lolly, only to discover that she suffers from a mental illness, hears voices and has constant paranoid delusions.
Later in Season Three, Piper grows increasingly dismissive of Alex's paranoia, refusing to believe anyone could sneak in and attempt to kill her. Alex and Piper fall out and Piper cheats on Alex with Stella Carlin, a new inmate. Piper and Alex split for good, but in a scene with Yoga Jones, she asks, "Do you ever have a thing with someone that is never really over even when it is?", whilst talking about Piper.
In the Season Four premiere, "Work That Body For Me", Alex is being choked to death by Aydin when Lolly Whitehill walks in, hearing the scuffle. She saves Alex by stomping on Aydin's chest and neck until he apparently dies. That night, Alex goes to bury the body when she discovers he is still alive, albeit paralyzed, and tearfully kills him by smothering him. The next day Alex, Lolly, and Frieda cut up and bury the body in the garden.
Alex spends the season completely consumed by guilt and trying to keep Lolly from confessing to the murder. She becomes closer to Red, who she tells everything to, and who tries to help her figure out what to do with Lolly ("Doctor Psycho"). When Nicky returns from the SHU, she immediately relapses and asks Alex to smoke crack with her in the corn crops. Eventually, Piper joins them and they both reveal the traumatic things that have happened to them recently, which helps them rekindle their relationship. Piper apologizes for neglecting Alex ("Friends in Low Places"). When the body is eventually discovered, Alex waits all night before eventually deciding to turn herself in. However, CO Sam Healy has already informed the other COs as to Lolly's involvement and has her sent to the psychiatric ward ("People Persons"). Red sees Alex crying in Lolly's bunk, again guilty about someone being punished because of her. Alex tries to memorialize Aydin by leaving notes around the prison (written with her non-dominant hand) saying "His name was Aydin Bayat". Piper finds one and freaks out, eventually convincing Alex that not only was Bayat a hit man, and not only did she kill him in self-defense, but the notes can too easily be traced back to Alex herself. Alex agrees to let Piper find all the notes and they burn them. The trash can with the fire inside gets kicked over by the rioting inmates in the season finale, and it is unknown whether all the paper had been destroyed. Piper and Alex are last seen running away from the riot caused by Poussey Washington's death.
After the death of Poussey Washington, Piper and Alex decide to lay low, playing house out in the prison yard while the inmates are inside rioting. Meanwhile, while Piper is making sure their prisoner Linda Ferguson is not telling anyone about the murder of Aydin while Alex has a group of followers who want to stay out of the riot and spend the rest of their time. Until Piper decided to do something else and became a riot girl for a few days by helping Taystee with negotiations and honoring Poussey Washington while Alex laws low with her group. One day they end up having shower sex, but before initiating, they were taken by Piscatella who brings Red's prison family to make them watch him torture Red. Piscatella breaks Alex's arm in the process and soon they are released from Piscatella when the other inmates from the secret bunker find them and rescue them. They all spend the remainder of the season in Frieda's emergency bunker where Piper proposes to Alex, and she agrees to marry her. Alex is last seen with the remaining 10 inmates in Frieda's bunker where they all hold hands and wait until the CERT guards come and take them.
After the events of Season Five, Alex was taken to a hospital because of her serious injury. There she had two surgeries. Once she was somewhat recovered, she was brought into C-Block at Litchfield Max. There she reunited with a relieved Piper, who thought she was dead. Because of their long separation, Madison arranged for Alex to have the cell next to Pipers.
Noticing that Madison is giving Piper a hard time, Alex asks Madison to lay off as a favor to her. Madison agrees but later comes to collect on the favor. Alex helps Madison by giving her the idea to use Luschek as a way to smuggle in contraband. This backfires on Madison when she gets shanked and almost gets caught with a phone stuffed up her cast. She quickly passes the phone off to Alex who hides it in her sling. Madison tries to recruit Alex into helping her but Alex just wants to keep her head down.
When Madison doesn't back off of Piper, Alex goes around her and talks to Carol. Carol agrees to protect Piper if Alex will resume her criminal ways and work for her. Alex agrees. Before Piper's release, Alex and Piper have a prison wedding which Nicky officiates.
- Piper Chapman (former ex-girlfriend prior to Season 3; short relationship in Season 1; relationship prior to Season 1, current girlfriend as of Season 4; fiancée as of Season 5's end, prison-married as of Season 6's end)
- Nicky Nichols (one known time)
- Sylvia (ex-girlfriend)
- Digger (ex-girlfriend)
- Piper Chapman
- Nicky Nichols
- Lorna Morello
- Lolly Whitehill
- Red (former)
- Frieda Berlin
- Dayanara Diaz
- Yoga Jones
- Gina Murphy
- Anita DeMarco
- Norma Romano
- Blanca Flores
- Taystee Jefferson
- Cindy Hayes
- Suzanne Warren
- Gloria Mendoza
- Madison Murphy (questionable)
- Kubra Balik (former boss)
- Aydin (hitman sent by Kubra)
- Stella Carlin (love rival as of Season 3)
- Piscatella (captured and broke her arm)
- Linda Frguson (Blackmailed and blackmailed by)
- Lolly Whitehill (former)
- Maria Ruiz
- Ramona Contreras (Part of Maria’s gang)
In the memoir, Kerman graduates from Smith as “a well-educated young lady from Boston with a thirst for bohemian counterculture and no clear plan.” She craves risk and adventure and eventually meets “Nora,” a member of “a clique of impossibly stylish and cool lesbians in their mid-thirties” Kerman hung out with. Nora’s an international drug trafficker Kerman describes as “a short, raspy-voiced Midwesterner who looked a bit like a white Eartha Kitt.” Before long, Kerman’s jetting to exotic locales, traveling with Nora and helping transport money. Eventually the dark side of the business, Nora’s tendency to leave Kerman alone in unfamiliar places, Nora’s desire for Kerman to transport drugs and Nora’s frequent squabbles with her partner wear Kerman down, and in 1993 she cuts all ties with Nora and moves to San Francisco.
Although it’s not discussed in the memoir and Kerman uses pseudonyms for everybody (except herself, Larry, Sister Ardeth Platte and Sister Alice Gerard), I was able to track down the actual case and the involved parties and it turns out that the drug ring’s shit hit the fan shortly after Kerman hit the road. In March 1994, according to court papers, one of the ring’s couriers was arrested at O’Hare in Chicago. He named other participants, who named other participants, and “eventually the entire conspiracy came crashing down.” The alleged drug kingpin in question is Buruji Kashamu, known to Kerman and associates as “Alhaji.” He’s the one whose anticipated extradition to the US for trial delayed Kerman’s sentence for six years — in fact, the U.S. is still trying to extradite him. Kerman was among fourteen indicted parties, along with “Nora”/Alex (real name: Catherine Wolters) and Nora’s sister “Anne” (real name: Ellen), who was actually Kashamu’s lover for a time. “I thought she was just a Wiccan heterosexual version of her sister, but apparently she was the lover of a West African drug kingpin,” Kerman writes of “Anne.”
Kerman doesn’t see Nora again until about a month before Kerman’s release date, when Nora and Kerman are shipped by Con Air to Oklahoma City, and then to the Chicago MCC, where they’ve been called, along with Anne, to testify against another member of the drug ring. In Chicago, the two girls tentatively get friendly and eventually Kerman, Nora and Anne end up in the same cell, each other’s allies in the miserable administrative facility. Kerman relays that Anne is serving a seven-year sentence in Kentucky and Nora’s doing her time in Dublin, but doesn’t reveal the length of Nora’s sentence. However, 2009 court papers state that both women are free.
- Catherine Cleary Wolters, Piper Kerman's ex and the basis of Nora Jansen, published her own memoir entitled "Out of Orange: A Memoir". Their TV counterpart (Alex Vause) is very different from both Wolters and her novelized character, Jansen.
Memorable Quotes Edit
- "I don't even know anymore. I used to. I had grand plans. Now I can't even get past the swirling darkness in my brain long enough to land on anything."
- — Alex Vause to Nicky Nichols (in "Imaginary Enemies")
- "Are you cheating on me and Larry with Crazy Eyes? 'Cuz there is not room for the four of us!"
- — Alex to Piper Chapman
- "We're just getting started, bitch."
- — to Pennsatucky (in "Moscow Mule")
- "Come be my little spoon."
- — Alex Vause to Piper Chapman (in "Tall Men with Feelings")
- "I can't believe I didn't see this coming. How did I not see this...you know what, I did see this coming. Years ago. Rule number one, don't ever fall in love with a straight girl."
- — to Piper (in "Tall Men with Feelings")
- "Here's some advice, when a girl makes you cum the way that I do, you should always act thrilled to see her."
- — to Piper (in "Tall Men with Feelings")
- "Or I will fuck you, literally. I will sneak into your bunk in the middle of the night and I'll lick your pussy. I will do it so good and so soft and you're going to be on the edge of cumming before you wake up. And I will stop. And you'll be half asleep, and you'll beg for it. [chuckles] Oh, you'll beg for it. And maybe I'll be nice, and maybe I won't. But if I am nice, the things you feel, it will ruin you forever."
- — Alex Vause threatening "Pennsatucky"
- "It's a non-birthday gift."
- — Alex Vause to Piper Chapman
- "I'm pretty much the master of handling things completely wrong."
- — Alex Vause to Piper Chapman (in "We Have Manners. We're Polite.")
- "Fuck Piper, she can't dance anyway!"
- — Alex Vause to Fahri about Piper Chapman (in "Fear, and Other Smells")
- — Alex Vause, stumbling over the word "Amazing" (in "Fear, and Other Smells")
- "I wanna be your prison wife."
- — Alex Vause to Piper Chapman (in "Thirsty Bird")
- "The real tragedy is that we're gonna die before we can fight over the wedding cake."
- — Alex Vause to Piper Chapman (in "Storm-y Weather")
- "You're willing to overlook pretty much anything because ultimately you are just terrified of being alone."
- — Alex Vause to Piper Chapman
- "How did I think I could get into business school when all of my accomplishments are full-on felonies."
- — Alex Vause to Piper Chapman
Promotional Photos Edit
|Orange Is the New Black: Season One|
|"I Wasn't Ready":||"Tit Punch":||"Lesbian Request Denied":||"Imaginary Enemies":||"The Chickening":||"WAC Pack":||"Blood Donut":|
|"Moscow Mule":||"Fucksgiving":||"Bora Bora Bora":||"Tall Men with Feelings":||"Fool Me Once":||"Can't Fix Crazy":|
|Orange Is the New Black: Season Two|
|"Thirsty Bird":||"Looks Blue, Tastes Red":||"Hugs Can Be Deceiving":||"A Whole Other Hole":||"Low Self Esteem City":||"You Also Have a Pizza":||"Comic Sans":|
|"Appropriately Sized Pots":||"40 Oz. of Furlough":||"Little Mustachioed Shit":||"Take a Break From Your Values":||"It Was the Change":||"We Have Manners. We're Polite.":|
|Orange Is the New Black: Season Three|
|"Mother's Day":||"Bed Bugs and Beyond":||"Empathy Is a Boner Killer":||"Finger in the Dyke":||"Fake It Till You Fake It Some More":||"Ching Chong Chang":||"Tongue-Tied":|
|"Fear, and Other Smells":||"Where My Dreidel At":||"A Tittin' and a Hairin'":||"We Can Be Heroes":||"Don't Make Me Come Back There":||"Trust No Bitch":|
|Orange Is the New Black: Season Four|
|"Work That Body for Me":||"Power Suit":||"(Don't) Say Anything":||"Doctor Psycho":||"We'll Always Have Baltimore":||"Piece of Shit":||"It Sounded Nicer in My Head":|
|"Friends in Low Places":||"Turn Table Turn":||"Bunny, Skull, Bunny, Skull":||"People Persons":||"The Animals":||"Toast Can't Never Be Bread Again":|
|Orange Is the New Black: Season Five|
|"Riot FOMO":||"Fuck, Marry, Frieda":||"Pissters!":||"Litchfield's Got Talent":||"Sing It, White Effie":||"Flaming Hot Cheetos, Literally":||"Full Bush, Half Snickers":|
|"Tied to the Tracks":||"The Tightening":||"The Reverse Midas Touch":||"Breaking the Fiberboard Ceiling":||"Tattoo You":||"Storm-y Weather":|
|Orange Is the New Black: Season Six|
|"Who Knows Better Than I":||"Shitstorm Coming":||"Look Out for Number One":||"I'm the Talking Ass":||"Mischief Mischief":||"State of the Uterus":||"Changing Winds":|
|"Gordons":||"Break the String":||"Chocolate Chip Nookie":||"Well This Took a Dark Turn":||"Double Trouble":||"Be Free":|
- ↑ The Real Alex of Orange Is the New Black Speaks for the First Time: “I Was Not Piper’s First, and I Certainly Did Not Seduce Her” - Vanity Fair