HBO’s ‘Reality’ follows the true story of Reality Winner, who came under scrutiny after leaking a classified document. Directed by Tina Satter, the movie relies on the transcript of the actual interrogation in which Winner confessed to the crime. The dialogues are taken verbatim; even the redacting part is incorporated into the movie. With every work pulled right out of the transcript, the movie takes unexpected turns in the conversation between Winner and the FBI agents and creates some absurd and lighthearted moments. Often, in movies based on real-life events that are also politically sensitive, the names of the characters are changed. You might wonder if the same has happened in the HBO movie. Is Reality Winner the real name of the protagonist? Let’s find out.
What’s Reality Winner’s Real Name?
Yes, Reality Winner is the real name of the whistleblower whose story serves as the inspiration for the movie. The name was given to her by her father, Ronald Winner, who died in 2016 due to declining health following a series of heart attacks. Reality is the second child of her parents, Ronald and Billie Winner-Davis. Their first daughter, Brittany, was named by Billie, so Ronald wanted to name their second child. Talking about the story behind her name, Reality’s stepfather said: “[Ronald] always wanted to have a ‘Real Winner,’ so he named her Reality Leigh Winner. It’s just a beautiful name. The plan was to call her Leigh because Reality is kind of a strange name, but everyone who knew her just loved the name Reality, and it stuck with her.”
Confessing that he sometimes forgets Reality was called Leigh at one point, he revealed that her unique name has led to a few complications for her. “Facebook would not let her use Reality until she contacted the administration of Facebook and sent them a copy of her driver’s license before they allowed her. Then they got that straightened out,” Mr. Davis said, mentioning a similar problem with setting up other social media accounts. He also noted that some people try to pronounce it differently, believing it must be a reference to something else. “But it’s Reality; that’s all it is. Everyone who knows her loves her,” he added.
When Reality was arrested for leaking the classified document that contained information about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections, her name led people to have preconceived notions about her. Her parents came out in her support, talking about the real meaning of her name and how she has lived up to it. “I want to talk about Reality and remind folks that she is a veteran who served her country for six years in the United States Air Force. She did it with distinction. She has never been in trouble. She did serve, and she put her life on the line; she offered to give her full measure for this country, and the job that she did was important,” her stepfather said.
Read More: Is HBO’s Reality Based on a True Story?