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- "I don’t know what busted-ass country you come from... but this is America!"
- — Janae to Claudette when she is very strict
Janae is quite guarded, having spent most of her years feeling like an outsider because of her race, intelligence and exceptional athletic ability. She doesn't appear to have had a great deal of experience with men. She is initially very angry and confrontational, but calms down as her friendship with Yoga Jones develops. Watson has felt racial inequality deeply throughout her life which has molded her personality, leaving angry scars and a passionate need to speak up for and defend her race and heritage against her perceived systemic racism. This has led to her often making racist remarks against other races. Her upbringing in the Nation of Islam, a known black supremacist hate group, also contributed to her racist views. She is possibly also insecure about herself, as her father did not approve of her track uniform, thinking it was too exposing.
Janae is a black woman with brown eyes and black curly hair, and well groomed brows. In Season One, she had shorter hair. However, further into the show, she lets it grow out and it is parted down the middle, similiar to an afro. She has muscular legs and a trim athletic build due to her training as a track star. In her backstory, she had long, straight hair and often kept it in a ponytail or in a middle part.
For a list of episodes featuring Janae's flashbacks, see here.
Growing up, Janae was extremely intelligent, with her teachers at Van Buren High School, an all-black establishment, believing she would go far in life. Janae was happy with her life until the day she visited an elite prep school on a field trip and was exposed to students who had all the financial, technological and educational support they needed to succeed. Initially, Janae was excited about the possibility of a scholarship at the school. However, she was later shocked to watch a production of Dreamgirls being rehearsed with a whitewashed cast, complete with fake afros, being so disturbed and angry she was in tears. When she returned to school, she was unmotivated and indifferent to her studies, upsetting her inspirational teacher, who acknowledged that "you may have to work twice as hard to get half as far". It is assumed that Janae did not concentrate on her studies from that point, focusing instead on her athletic ability ("Sing It, White Effie").
Janae was also a gifted track star whose talent for running started when she was young. Unfortunately, she was ostracized by boys who often told her to "quit showing off". In her high school years, although Janae attracted much attention from college scouts and her coach, she was not noticed by boys. ("Blood Donut"), upsetting her and leading to her to feel isolated.
Her parents, her father in particular, are followers of the Nation of Islam. Being raised in a strict religious household, she was forbidden from dating boys, and her father initially forbade her from running track, since the track uniforms are not modest; however, her mother convinced her father of the potential before Janae insulted the faith and was slapped by her father. Running track and exercise had been her escape, and would later also be in prison. She often looked longingly at the other girls on her team who had boyfriends ("Trust No Bitch").
In college, she attended a party hosted by Haley Ricci. The gang leader, Three-D, urged Janae to focus on school, telling her that she had a chance to have a good life and didn't need to get involved with crime. However, Janae ignored his advice when a member of the gang, Donte, expressed romantic interest in her. She became involved with his criminal activities and helped him rob a check-cashing establishment.
During their escape, Janae was a faster runner, which caused Donte to yell for her to "stop showing off" as he fell behind. This momentarily distracted her and allowed a police officer to corner Janae. Donte ran off and let her take the fall for him. It is unknown if he was eventually arrested as well and also whether Janae had any further contact with him ("Blood Donut").
Janae arrives at Litchfield the same day as Piper and Dayanara. She is initially very rude and standoffish toward Piper and has problems with authority, mouthing off to Miss Claudette and the prison guards, leading her to being immediately 'kicked out' by Miss Claudette. She is reassigned alongside Poussey. Watson is assigned to the tool crib in the electrical shop and loses a screwdriver on her first day. She is called racist slurs ("monkey in a cage") by CO Luschek. After refusing to be searched by a male prison guard, Watson is sent to the Security Housing Unit (SHU) by Caputo. She blames Piper for this, since Piper lost the screwdriver that started the whole confrontation. Piper is able to make it up to her later by convincing Susan Fischer to reopen the running track so that Watson can run again. This made Watson considerably happier.
After getting out of SHU, Watson continues to pick fights with other inmates. With nothing to focus on, she does exercise in the middle of the night, disturbing the whole dorm. Yoga Jones attempts to calm her down but Janae mocks her pacifist nature and tries to figure out what crime she committed, stating "you're guilty", and guessing crimes such as child molestation until eventually she accuses her of killing a child. Yoga Jones slaps her and later, Janae apologizes to her and learns about Yoga Jones's past. The two strike up a friendship.
Janae is a full member of the black girls at this point, playing charades with them, being in a team with Cindy. Janae joins Vee's gang after being bribed with cake alongside the remainder of The Black Girls to get a cut of the cigarette money. She is sent down to SHU again after being caught with the cigarettes in her bunk, which Vee calmly allows to happen. She is visibly affected by her second time in the SHU, and once again her relationship with Yoga Jones becomes strained when she rejects Yoga Jones' compassion, stating that Yoga only wants to have a black friend. She lashes out at Cindy for joking about the SHU and Vee states that she will look after her. Later, Vee coldly tells Janae that it was her own fault for getting caught. Poussey tries to convince Janae that Vee should've took responsibility for the cigarettes, but Vee's manipulation worked and Janae blames herself. Poussey also tries to convince her that she should stop hanging out with Vee and asked her how she didn't learn a lesson from Vee's lack of care of her being sent to the SHU. Later, she is convinced by Vee to pin Red's beating on Crazy Eyes, even after her protests, but after Cindy is threatened by Vee, she has a change of heart and talks to Poussey and Taystee again trying to regain friendship and attempts to recant her testimony along with Black Cindy.
She becomes a minor character, wondering about Poussey's belief in Voodoo Magic, and mocks the use of garlic by Poussey for bedbug elimination. She also worries about Cindy's itching. She later takes the test for Whispers, and gets in, but insults Cindy for believing that they would be making weapons in the factory. She also tries to persuade everyone not to take the test so she can have a better chance, not knowing that the "test" is a sham perpetrated by Danny Pearson, and it is actually random selection. Her and Cindy boast to Taystee and Suzanne, making them jealous. She begins working in the factory; her and Cindy rate the looks of the models in the magazine. She stands up for Beyoncé after she is insulted by Flaca. She gets aggravated after Piper calls Whispers "slave labour", saying that Piper knows nothing about slavery and tells her to be grateful about the job. Her and her workmates joke about fetishes.
She is very shocked to see the Kosher meals and is jealous of Lolly. She mocks the Norma-Worshippers and Poussey's membership in it. She takes interest in Judy King's life and doesn't believe that she has a husband and a lover. She later gets angry about Suzanne's fans sitting in their seats. She enjoys corn stolen from The Golden Girls' greenhouse with Cindy, Taystee and Suzanne, and adds to the transphobic atmosphere against Sophia, stating it's "RuPaul's Drag Race". Her and Cindy use slavery as an excuse after Red berates them for stealing the corn, and attempts to fight Red, until she is stopped by Taystee. She agrees to wash dishes for Red by way of an apology.
When the Black Girls find Soso in the library after she has overdosed, she does not agree with helping Soso, thinking that the group can only be Black. She is convinced after Suzanne explains about the horrors of Psych, where Soso would otherwise end up. She enjoys swimming in the lake and has a water fight with Suzanne and Taystee. She finally accepts Soso into the group and romance between Soso and Poussey blossoms.
Janae later discusses racism after the prison breakout, having conflict with Soso again. She is racist towards Soso, but says that Black People cannot be racist, which Cindy disagrees with. She makes fun of Soso saying moist, ignoring Taystee's worries about Suzanne. She assumes that Soso says the n-word, when rather she says 'trigger,' a bored Cindy tries to convince her this. When Cindy is assigned Alison Abdullah as a new bunkmate and immediately clashes with her, Janae supports her joining the group, despite Cindy's conflict with her. She later mocks Taystee's new privilege of being Caputo's assistant.
After learning that Judy King is in Litchfield, she joins Black Cindy in trying to get a picture with her that they can sell it to the press. This eventually leads to Janae and Cindy becoming friends with Judy, visiting her room and attending her classes.
She is completely distraught after Poussey's death, becoming extremely angry. She punches Sankey after her racist remarks and pushes for Taystee to tell Caputo to sort out the situation. She is only cheered up when Alison reveals her bright red hair under her hijab, as her and Cindy compare it to characters.
Janae and the Black Girls take hostage of Caputo and MCC's PR specialist. She agrees with Alison's statements and agrees that Baxter Bayley (who was responsible for Poussey's death) should be tried. She very passionately agrees with the reinstatement of the GED Programme. When Taystee helps Judy King (who by now is their hostage) prepare a statement to tell the press about the riot and the death of Poussey, Janae expressed frustration with allowing a white woman to speak about problems that she had not faced, rather than allowing them to speak for themselves. Taystee eventually sees Janae's point of view, becoming the spokeperson herself instead.
When the negotiations began, she is one of the girls standing right outside the room, cheering Taystee on.
When the riot is about to reach a dramatic conclusion, Janae, along with Black Cindy, Taystee, and Alison, try to wake Suzanne before the riot officers come in. Unable to wake her, Cindy and Taystee put her in a wheelchair and take her to hide.
She was one of the few that believed Taystee when she told them Figueroa would come back, and waiting with Alison by the door for her. Because they were near the door, they were among the first to be captured by riot officers. Everyone screamed and ran when they busted the doors down, but Janae was quickly caught and tased.
Afterwards, all the inmates were brought onto the front lawn while two prison buses pulled in. Janae expressed concern that Cindy, Taystee, and Suzanne were never brought outside with Alison. This was the last time Janae was seen, as she was presumably transferred to FDC Cleveland along with the other inmates not sent to Maximum Security.
- Donte (ex after Janae's incarceration)
- Yoga Jones (former friends; Helped Watson deal with her anger and stress and gave her advice. After Season 2, Janae is rarely seen talking to Jones, possibly due to rejecting all white people after being an official member of the Black Girls.).
- Cindy Hayes (Best friends; her and Cindy are similiar to Poussey and Taystee in the way that they usually agree with each other and sit with each other).
- Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson (Best friends; Janae and Taystee struggled with systematic opression throughout their lives despite their intellect, which led them to bond)
- Poussey Washington (Best friends; her and Waston were bunkmates and became closer after Taystee was released).
- Suzanne Warren (Sister-figure/friends; her and Janae get along well, other than Janae not caring much about Suzanne through the first season. Janae listens closely to what Suzanne says and is usually interested and finds her funny)
- Brook Soso (friends; they become friends eventually during Season 5, after a very antagonistic friendship. Janae helps Soso deal with her anger and alcoholicism with exercise and they mourn together)
- Alison Abdullah (friends; she introduces Alison to the group despite the conflict with Cindy)
- Piper Chapman (questionable; her and Piper have had a confusing, up-and-down relationship. Piper got her sent to the SHU, but got her the track, and they have had sarcastic conversations with each other ever since. Piper helped the Black Girls in Season Five and Janae was accepting)
- Vee (former; She wanted the cut of the cigarette money and did what Vee told her)
- Red (Made up eventually)
- Baxter Bayley (killed Poussey)
- Yvonne "Vee" Parker (Manipulated and got Janae sent to SHU, as well as attacking Cindy and framing Suzanne.)
- Kasey Sankey (racist; Janae is very protective and stern when it comes to her race, punching Sankey after she mocked Poussey's death).
- Helen Van Maele (Racism; Janae is very protective and stern when it comes to her race)
- Brandy Epps (Racism, Nazism; Janae is very protective and stern when it comes to her race, and also looks out for her bestfriend Cindy, a jew).
- Jennifer Digori (Racism; Janae is very protective and stern when it comes to her race)
- Joel Luschek (Racism; called Janae a "monkey in the cage")
- Claudette Pelage (Janae did not like when Claudette laid down a lot of rules immediately, and later was angry once Claudette had her moved)
- Red (former; Janae stole corn from Red and later handled the situation very badly, being disrespectful and attempting to start a fight)
- Piper Chapman (former; her and Piper have had a confusing, up-and-down relationship. Piper got her sent to the SHU, but got her the track, and they have sarcastic conversations with each other ever since. She also was jealous of Piper after she got furlough).
- Yoga Jones (former; was slapped by and called Yoga a child murderer)
- Caputo (former; sent her to SHU).
- Brook Soso (former; was racist towards Soso)
- Vicky Jeudy seems to have retired from Orange is the New Black. She commented several times on her personal Instagram “It was an amazing journey and new beginnings are in the horizons”.
- When Janae is assigned to Miss Claudette’s bunk and is told all the stern rules, Janae mocks Miss Claudette’s rules; “I don’t know what busted-ass country you come from, but this is America!”. This is ironic as Miss Claudette's character is Haitian and Vicky Jeudy is of Haitian descent.
- "You ain't got shit."
- — Janae Watson
- "I don’t know what busted-ass country you come from... but this is America!"
- — Janae Watson, mocking Miss Claudette
- "You're just like the Wizard of Oz. Just a bunch of show, and nothing behind the curtain."
- — Janae Watson
- "Yeah, keep that up. Gonna throw some shit at you, cracker."
- — Janae Watson
- "Jibber, jibber, jabber, jabber; lay hands, bitch!"
- — Janae Watson to Pennsatucky in "Bora Bora Bora"
|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":|