Meeting Laverne Cox

“Meeting celebrities is not that big of a deal” - said no one ever!  Every childhood dream revolves around meeting that one celebrity who has touched your heart in some way.  To me, that happened on Wednesday.  That is when I met Laverne Cox.

Laverne Cox is known for her role as a transgender woman, Sophia Burset, on the Netflix series Orange is the New Black.  Here is where the LGBT advocate became an overnight sensation.

In her role as Burset, Cox became the first openly transgender person on a television series.  This platform allowed her to speak to the rights of trans people, as well as the LGBTQIA+ community and the inequality of minorities.

Cox on the cover of Time Magazine

 

I live in the Valley and the majority of the population is a minority.  Sadly, but proudly, this minority group is Hispanic, and has core cultural values.  Here I have people I call my family, which are my friends who belong to the LGBTQIA+ community. And here I sit right in the middle of it all as a bisexual Hispanic woman.

I needed to see someone like myself in a way.  And I found her.  I found her while seeing the fourth season of OITNB.  Seeing her and the struggles her character went through sincerely made me a fan overnight. So much so that I started watching the entire series from the beginning.

Thankfully, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley would bring her to me. Cox became one of the many celebrity Distinguished Speaker UTRGV has had.  Every year, the DSS bring down artists like John Legend, veteran and Dancing with the Stars mirrored ball winner J.R. Martinez, and ice cream entrepreneurs Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield from Ben and Jerry’s.

Crazily enough, when they announced her scheduled date, I was already working for the university’s school newspaper, The Rider. I literally went crazy. I mean here I am, a fan, and now I would not only meet her, but I would get to interview her! How exciting, wouldn’t you say?

This was last year in October 2016.  Today, I am not a journalist. Frantically, I looked for ways to meet her.  I asked people in my new job, the student media even my organization, Her Campus, to see if there was a way to get an interview with her.

Sadly, all my doors were closed, but I stayed optimistic. And then it happened. It all paid off when I got the daily school email with events and this particular heading caught my eye. 

There would be an essay contest to meet and greet Laverne Cox.  “Oh my word,” I thought. “This is it. This is the way.”

But in true Brenda style, I forgot!

Luckily enough, they sent out another email and in this one it said they had extended the deadline to the following day.  I couldn’t have been more relieved.

The question was, “How does pop culture and the media portray the perceptions of the Transgender community in today's society?”  I answered as sincerely as possible and in two days, I received an email from UTRGV’s Program Coordinator, Patricia Montemayor, saying I had won the essay contest!

It was a dream come true to say the least. Not only did I see her, but I got her to autograph my essay, we took a picture and even talked about “Strut,” a reality television series that follows professional transgender models.

But that was just icing on the cake.  Hearing her speak about the transgender community in today’s society and how she managed to become who she was despite all adversity was truly the main reason I wanted to meet her. 

Cox speaking this past Wednesday at UTRGV

 

She exceeded my expectations. Cox’s story resonated with me. I could feel her pain, her struggles, her ambition and her determination to become the amazing person she is now. 

Somehow, I was her. From growing up and being bullied to feeling like you were just “not normal,” she made me look to my past as she spoke to the maxed out theater.

She inspired me. She inspired us, the LGBTQIA+ community and those around us to love, to appreciate, and to strive to be good people.

I am so thankful that the university for brought Laverne Cox to the Valley. Many people see her as an actress on one of the most popular television shows running, but I see her as a loving human being who is advocating for the love we should have for one another.