Laverne Cox almost called it quits before her major Hollywood breakthrough with Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black”.
Cox, 49, opened up about the trajectory of her entertainment career in Paley Center’s Pride Month programming, “A Salute to LGBTQ+ Pride Achievements in Television”. The special coincides with Pride Month.
“In the fall of 2012 we started shooting this show and 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 and I was going to give up acting actually, a few months before I booked ‘Orange’,” Cox said, according to People. “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.”
“I was just devastated by turning 40 and 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 says. “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.'”
Cox planned on leaving the Hollywood biz and going to grad school.
“So I was going to go to grad school. I was studying for the GRE and then the audition for ‘Orange’ happened and I didn’t go to grad school — ‘Orange’ turned out to be my grad school.”
The transgender actress has a lot of love for what “OITNB” gave her.
“It changed everything,” she said of her “OITNB” experience. “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.”
“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.”
Cox points to how she was the only transgender actor when “OITNB” premiered in 2013. Now there are over 25.
“There was a space opened up,” she shared. “There’s been a shift and that is exciting. I’m no longer the only trans person to be nominated for an acting Emmy, Rain Valdez joined me last year when she was nominated for her series, ‘Razor Tongue’, so I’m just excited that there’s more of us working now and I’m not the only one.”