Laverne Cox: ‘I Dont Think We’re There Yet’

The latest thoughts from Hollywood's first breakthrough transgender star.

VarietyTransCoverThe headlines under which Variety New York film editor Ramin Setoodeh makes his cover story case say it all: “Hollywood Trans Formation” and “Transgender is the New Black in Hollywood.” He ties in Bruce Jenner, a variety of forthcoming films and TV projects as well as the Emmy Award-winning Amazon series Transparent.

But the anchor of his piece is Orange is the New Black breakthrough star Laverne Cox:

On a spring night over dinner in downtown Manhattan, Cox spoke about how far Hollywood has come – and still needs to go – in embracing transgender artists across all facets of the entertainment business. “I never wanted to be the only one,” she says, referencing an interview she heard with Sidney Poitier about how it felt to be the first African American to win a Best Actor Oscar, in 1964. “The change will happen when there’s a slew of us…”

Cox, who grew up in Mobile, Ala., was harassed and bullied for being too feminine. She studied dance and acting in college, and had always wanted to be an actress, but took a detour into fashion school in New York. “There were no examples at the time of trans people who were professional actors,” she says. Then in 2007, Candis Cayne became the first transgender co-star of a primetime series, ABC’s Dirty Sexy Money. The show aired for just two seasons, but seeing Cayne on TV inspired Cox to send 500 postcards to talent reps, before she landed her current agent, Paul Hilepo.

There’s some funny stuff in the Variety piece as well, such as Cox recollecting her reaction when she got to meet her idol Oprah at an Essence magazine luncheon. In her rent-controlled studio apartment downtown, Cox has a poster of her 2014 Time magazine cover. Looks like she might need to make room for another.
 
[Cover photo by: Emily Hope]