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Laverne Cox finds strength and comfort in Black History Month

As a black, transgender woman the “Orange is the New Black” star says she has faced a difficult road to success.

Laverne Cox, at a Black History Month program

Laverne Cox, at a Black History Month program at Macy's on Thursday, spoke about the importance of honoring the black entertainers that came before her. Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

For actress and activist Laverne Cox, being a black and transgender woman has meant the roles in Hollywood have been few and far between.

Cox, speaking at a Q&A at Macy’s Herald Square for Black History Month on Thursday, said she often feels casting directors “don’t necessarily consider me” for roles, and it’s hard to tell how many she’s missed out on.

“Two years ago ... I was in the waiting room with actresses who were like, ‘Oh my God, this is my fourth audition today. And I was like, ‘Oh, I’ve never auditioned that much.’ There have never been that many parts as a black, openly transgender woman,” Cox said before the event. “Because I am who I am, there probably have been fewer opportunities for me to work. I feel like we’ve made the very most of what we have been given ... I feel very blessed now.”

Cox, famous for her role as Sophia Burset on the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black,” said in the future she’d like to focus on taking more control and producing, in addition to acting. She said she’s inspired by black filmmakers and showrunners like Ava DuVernay, Issa Rae and Donald Glover.

“Certainly there are fewer opportunities for someone like me being black and being trans and being a woman. In the face of that, it’s not bad,” she said. “The truth is I’m one of the lucky ones. The question for me becomes ... as I produce, how to bring other people along for the ride.”

Speaking in front of a few dozen fans at the event hosted by Essence entertainment editor Cori Murray, Cox recalled a book chronicling black history that her mother bought for her and her brother when they were children. She said she feels lucky now, thinking back to what many black entertainers have gone though in the past.

“For me, it’s Black History Month every month, to be real. And for me, black history is American history,” Cox said. “Yes it’s been challenging for me being a black, trans woman doing my thing, but when I think about that, I’m thinking it’s not as hard as how they had it.”

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