Who is the real Alex (or Nora) from the Netflix series Orange is the New Black?

Many ‘OITNB’ fans know all about ‘Piper’ in the Netflix series; but, there’s little information about the other real-life person responsible for the story, Alex.

In the Netflix prison series inspired by yuppie ex-con Piper Kerman, she’s lured into an international drug ring at the age of 23 by a very persuasive sexy lesbian named Alex, who became her girlfriend.  A decade later after escaping the drug world at the age of 34 and now engaged to a man, her former life of crime finally caught up with her. She was forced to plead guilty to money laundering, was sentenced to 13 months in federal prison and ultimately ended up bunking with ‘Alex’ in the same 6-woman prison cell.

The Truths?

The Netflix series pits Piper and Alex in the same prison where they rekindle the drama of their relationship.  The real-life story is somewhat different, according to Kerman.

First, the character ‘Alex’ is referred to as Nora in Piper’s memoirs; neither name is real.  In the real story, Nora and Piper didn’t share a cell in prison until she was transferred to another Federal prison near Chicago prior to her release and that only lasted for a short time.  There, she also downplayed the rekindling of their relationship in prison; but, did say she forgave her former girlfriend while they spent time together.

The Netflix series also has the part of Nora (or Alex) played by actress Laura Prepon.

Prepon, who is very attractive, plays Alex as a lesbian that fits the stereotypical image of what most middle-aged men could only wish for.  Piper’s description in her book is much different.  She said Nora was “short and looked a bit like a French bulldog;” but for “a twenty-two-year-old looking for adventure, she was a figure of intrigue.”

Kerman has said in several interviews, that she can’t say any more about ‘Nora’ than is already in the book, as she has not maintained contact with her former lover.

Is Nora Her Real Name?

According to the Chicago Tribune, Court documents reveal that Nora’s (or Alex’s) real name is actually Catherine Cleary Wolters. Her sister, Ellen Wolters, was also involved in the drug ring and had a romantic relationship with the person the Feds say is an African drug lord.  The Wolters sisters both pleaded guilty.

RELATED: See an Actual Mugshot of Wolters at the end of this story

The Chicago Tribune spoke with one of Kerman’s co-defendants in November of last year, adding even more credibility to the belief that Wolters is the real ‘Nora.’  He told the newspaper on the condition of anonymity, that he once shared a hotel room with Catherine Wolters and her girlfriend, Piper Kerman.  He claims he was recruited to the drug smuggling ring by a boyfriend and he was originally told he was working as an assistant on a travel book.  He said Wolters later told him the truth, but assured him he wouldn’t get caught up in any trouble.’


Interestingly, the case that ultimately inspired Orange is the New Black is actually still open in Chicago Federal Court.  The Tribune reported in December that the government’s case against the alleged ‘Drug Lord’ - Kashamu Buruji, is still active.  Buruji, who Kerman claims had a romantic relationship with Wolters’ sister, denies the allegations of being connected to the drug ring.

A new season of Orange is the New Black is just weeks away.  Those close to the series say Season 2 will pay much less attention to the relationship between Piper and Alex.  It’s rumored that Prepon will only appear in four episodes.  Season Two is expected to hit the Netflix hard drive this Spring. As always, Netflix will activate all episodes on the launch date, giving ‘OITNB Bingers’ the chance to knock-out the entire season in one marathon weekend.

Follow Piper Kerman on Twitter.

Related Story:  Is the Orange is the New Black Prison Really in Upstate NY?

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