Laverne Cox is an inspiration to trans women everywhere thanks to her groundbreaking role in “Orange Is the New Black.” As the first trans woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream series and the first of which to be nominated for a primetime Emmy, she said the role “changed everything” for her.
“I have a career now that I always dreamed about because of that show, and what’s really beautiful about Orange is, I had writing and storylines that I had dreamed about,” she said in a sneak peek of a roundtable discussion for the Paley Center’s Pride Month programming entitled: “A Salute to LGBTQ+ Pride Achievements in Television,” per People.
However, Cox said her journey as a trans woman in entertainment was a struggle. “When you’re in acting school and you’re training, and you get, you know, five lines on ‘Law & Order’ or you’re playing sex worker No. 6 on an HBO show — I played a sex worker seven different times — finally I had this storyline that was multidimensional with this character that was complicated and beautifully flawed and it was just exciting to be doing the work,” she explained.
Now, since her debut on “OITNB” in 2013, she says, “There was a space opened up,” for others like her. But because of the uphill battle to stardom, Cox admitted that she almost gave up on her dreams. Keep scrolling for more details on why Cox almost quit acting.
Laverne Cox was so close to giving up
Ahead of Laverne Cox’s now-iconic role on “Orange Is the New Black,” she was in a tough spot and faced a crossroads. “I had turned 40 that year and had a breakout moment and I was in debt and things weren’t going the way I hoped they would,” Cox recalled during the roundtable. “My life was kind of in shambles, like, financially, and I had worked and trained a lot and my dream of being a working actress had not come to fruition.”
She continued, “I was just like, ‘I’ve got to do something else. Who do I think I am? I’m a Black trans woman — no one’s ever done this before, let me go and do something, have a real job or something.'” But while debating a change of course, she got called to audition for “OITNB.” Although she admitted, “I was going to give up acting actually, a few months before I booked Orange,” she said she started shooting in 2012 and didn’t look back. “I was just so happy to have a job; I was in rent arrears on my apartment, I had rolled back rent and I was in all kinds of debt.”
Thanks to her breakout role, she is thrilled to have paved the way for other trans women in entertainment. “There’s been a shift and that is exciting,” she said. “I’m just excited that there’s more of us working now and I’m not the only one.”
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