Laverne Cox Refused To Play Reality TV’s “Angry Black Woman” Stereotype

Q&A: Laverne Cox
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“I remember being really conscious of not wanting to fight with another black woman on camera. I did an interview and the producers were like, “Well, this [other black woman on the show] said this about you. What do you have to say about that?” And I said I’m not fighting with another black woman on TV. Even during my elimination episode, when it came down to myself and another black woman, my mother — after watching — said, “Why didn’t you defend yourself?” And I just didn’t want to give television the satisfaction of seeing two black women going at it. We see that so much.”

“Orange Is The New Black” star Laverne Cox is the subject of a lengthly profile over at Buzzfeed, where she gives a fascinating walk-through of her long road to stardom. After moving to New York City to attend Marymount Manhattan College, Cox worked in nightclubs and acted in student films. Then, in 2008, she got cast on P. Diddy’s reality show, “I Want To Work For Diddy.” Believe it or not, reality TV was a positive experience for her. She credits Diddy for giving her exposure on national television, although she is very realistic and measured about what “a dubious distinction” it is to be “the first black trans woman to appear on a reality TV show.” One matter of principle for Cox, she explained, was refusing to play into the “angry black woman” stereotype that reality TV producers tried to coax out of her and instead held her tongue in situations where she otherwise might have spoken up. In a pop cultural landscape with brats like Justin Bieber and Lindsay Lohan making headlines, it’s refreshing to see a thoughtful, principled actress succeeding. [BuzzFeed]

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