Janae Watson (portrayed by Vicky Jeudy) is known for her tough demeanor and athleticism. If she does not exercise, she loses her mind. Aside from her dedication to her physical activity, she is very tribal-minded. She is one of the lucky few to land the job in the in-house Whispers factory.
We meet Janae in episode one as she and Piper Chapman are driven down to the correctional facility together. Her story intertwines with Piper’s when she is sent to the SHU for two weeks because of her flub with the missing screwdriver from the shop. We only know that Watson knows it’s Piper’s fault when they are sent up into a vent to take care of vermin. Although we fear for Piper as far as revenge goes, Janae insists that she’s “not a snitch” and she will not get in her trouble.
We learn that Watson went to jail for robbery. She was well on her way to becoming a track star (and had even received a scholarship for college for her running) when she got mixed in with the wrong crowd in attempts to be popular and noticed by the boys. This failed dream manifests itself in Litchfield when she is up at all hours of the night working out in attempts to not get “soft” like everyone else.
We learn in season three that she had met a great deal of resistance from her strict Muslim father for “running naked in public [for track] like a common whore.” While her mother defends Janae’s choice to use her talent and get scholarships, which could help her overcome the double prejudice against both women and blacks, her father will not hear them out. When she violently renounces her faith, she is backhanded by her father. This may have been the root cause of her searching out the party that led to the robbery.
She is the only one ballsy enough to be disrespectful to Miss Claudette. Watson’s anger stems from the fact that it is her own fault that she threw away her future. She antagonizes Pennsatucky, who cures her bum knee with faith healing.
In season two, she becomes one of Vee Parker‘s groupies; as one of the group, her attitude does not dilute, however. After the Latinas added extra salt to their gang’s food, she trips Daya for retribution. It is not until she is caught with cigarettes in the random sweep that she is sent down to the SHU for a second time. Upon being released, she starts dealing harder drugs for Vee.
When she’s released, Yoga Jones approaches her. They have had their differences in the past, but Jones wants to make amends. When she tells Watson that she joined the Hunger Strike because of her (for they use the SHU far too often), she pushes Jones away, for she doesn’t want to be her one “token black friend.” She remains bitter about being thrown in the SHU, especially when Taystee, Suzanne, and Poussey work so hard to keep Soso out of Psych.
At the end of season two, she has a difficult time throwing Crazy Eyes under the bus when Vee slocks Red. She and Black Cindy recant her testimonies and tell the agency that it was Vee who was responsible for the accident.
Since Watson had an even smaller part in this season, we can expect her to make a large comeback next season. Since season four reportedly takes a closer look into maximum security prison and solitary confinement, no matter how she acts, we are sure to follow her there.