Leanne Taylor (portrayed by Emma Myles) is one of the meth-heads who followed Pennsatucky around in season one; however, after a month of no “Tucky,” Taylor has discovered the peace of not having to answer to a crazy, screaming meth-head. While Leanne did not hold a job that we know of on the outside, in Litchfield Penitentiary she works in the laundry room with Brook Soso, Angie Rice and Pennsatucky.
We learn in season three that Leanne has Amish roots. In her teens, Leanne went against her parents’ wishes and went out into the world and got involved in dealing pot with other Amish runaway teens. However, she decided to come home to her parents and give up that life. Before giving up, however, she hid her “real world” clothes with her drugs and identification in a backpack in the corn field, which were later apprehended by the police. After choosing her baptism in the Amish church and asking for her parents’ and community’s forgiveness, the police show up at her door. She is given a plea deal: if she goes back to her friends while wired with a mic to help the police apprehend them, she will be offered a lessened sentence.
As a result of busting other peoples’ children in her community, she and her family are shunned, resulting in a loss of business of their family’s store. Leanne thus decides to run away from home in hopes that the community will forgive her family and continue to help them support themselves.
In season one, Leanne remains in the chorus to Pennsatucky’s Jesus-crazed chanting; however, she advances to the foreground in season two after her “leader” comes back feeling smug with a new set of teeth. She and Angie Rice decide to break away from her. She tells Pennsatucky: “You’re acting like you’re better than us [because she has nice teeth now] and we don’t like it.” Pennsatucky, while hurt, doesn’t hold back in calling her a “sister-wife, tweaker, Slurpee-drinking, fourth-grade reading level, Daddy-on-cops, trailer trash nothing.” It is at this moment, when Leanne Taylor breaks away from her hateful reign.
In season two, Leanne Taylor joins Brook Soso‘s hunger strike only because she promises that their demands will be met. Eventually she and Angie Rice are persuaded by the prison guards to eat pizza in Joe Caputo‘s effort to regain control over the prison.
At the start of season three, she and Angie find Nicky Nichols‘ heroin that she hid in one of the lamps. After using all of it, the two approach C.O. Ford and tip him off about who has smuggled drugs into prison; however, Ford ignores them. Leanne also benefits from Poussey Washington‘s illegal behavior in getting her supplies to help make hooch in exchange for some from the resultant supply.
Leanne may have left her Amish roots behind after running away from home, but that does not mean that she does not still look to belong to an organized group. She steps to the forefront of Norma’s group; however, she is immediately perceived as bossy, even though she tries very hard to help their group get recognized as a religious group of its own. Because Leanne has had to spend the past year with Soso in laundry, she begins bullying her, anticipating that she will be too talkative, uppity, and stuck-up. Her bullying progresses into tripping her in the cafeteria, cutting her hair short in the middle of the night, among other rude taunts.
When Leanne finally steps up to go and apologize to Soso for going against the essence of Norma‘s group, acceptance, they begin to have a heart-to-heart conversation. However, when she finds out that Leanne is Amish, Soso lets out an uncontrollable nervous giggle, which unleashes an even more hateful torrent of rage, thus guaranteeing that she never rejoins the group.
Once Norma‘s group begins to disband from Leanne’s bullying and from a couple of miracles-gone-bad, Leanne flips out when she and her friends discover Toast Norma in the cafeteria, reinvigorating the whole group. When Poussey storms into their Toast Norma gathering to call them a bunch of hypocrites for pushing Soso to commit suicide, the group disbands, and ultimately Norma pushes Leanne out of her life.
Season four looks like it will be lonely for Leanne, seeing as she has pushed everyone and everything away from her by turning into a monster — really, in turning into what she hated about Pennsatucky.