Laverne Cox - Exploring All Sides of Justice on "Doubt" - Extended Interview

February 14, 2017 - Laverne Cox 02/14/2017 Views: 33,179

Laverne Cox weighs in on transgender discrimination in schools and public spaces across the country and talks about her role as a defense attorney on the series "Doubt." (11:04)

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Please welcome back to the showLaverne Cox!

-♪ -(cheering and applause)

-Welcome back!-Oh!

-Yes! Yes! -(cheeringand applause continue)



It's like a warm hugof applause, isn't it?

I know. It feels so amazing.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!


-Happy Valentine's Day.-Thank you for the love.

Happy Valentine's Day, Trevor.I think it is very appropriate

that we spend Valentine's Daytogether, that...

-that we are...-(cheering, whooping)

that we are valentinesby default.

-And you are all my valentinesas well. -(cheering)

I love how I went from specialto everyone else. I...

No, but-but you're here.But you got to touch me.

Oh... Oh, I like that.

Welcome back to the show.

-Uh...-I'm not that full of myself.

-(laughter) -First of all...first of all, congratulations

on everythingyou've been doing recently.

Let's-let's talk aboutthe, uh... the Grammys first.

-My dress?-I saw you at the, uh...

It was a was a beautiful outfit.

-I saw youat the NAACP Image Awards. -Yes.

And then I saw youat the Grammys, and, you know,

you were doing your thing,you had some great moves.

And then,when you came out on stage,

you threw it in out of nowhere--I didn't know what it was--

but you said "Google,"and you said a name,

-and then the Internet blew up.-Yeah.

-What was that?-I am so...

I said "Google Gavin Grimm."

He's goingto the Supreme Court in March.


Gavin Grimm isa 17-year-old young man

from Gloucester, Virginia,

and he hadto sue the department...

the board of education so thathe could use the boy's bathroom

because he is transgender.

Um, could you imaginebeing 17 years old

and having to suethe school board

so you can be treated like allthe other boys in your school?

And that's all that Gavin wants.

Now over the past year,

we've seen bills like HB2in North Carolina

that criminalized transgenderpeople using the bathroom

that's consistentwith our gender identity.

Over 50 similar billswere introduced

-in state legislatureslast year. -Yeah.

Earlier this year in Texas,SB6 was introduced.

Similarly, they call it"The Privacy act."

Um, that would also criminalize

-trans people goingto the bathroom. -Yeah.

Now trans people have been goingto the bathroom

-for a very long time.-(laughter)

I don't know why,all of a sudden, it's a thing.

But what's importantabout this...

Oh, 'cause now we know.


-That's the difference.-Well...

-That's what it is. It's crazythat you say that. -But...

Trans people have been going tothe bathroom for a long time.

A very long time,and without any issues.

And now, all of a sudden,it's an issue.

And I think, um, first of all,it's the first time

the Supreme Court is hearing acase about transgender rights.

-Wow.-The very first time.

And what's at stake is whetheror not trans people are covered

by Title IX, which bansdiscrimination based on sex

-in our educationalinstitutions... -Yes.

...and Title VIIwhich bans sex discrimination

in the workplaceand public accommodations.

Now, the lower courtactually ruled in Gavin's favor,

and the Supreme Court decidedto hear the case, so it's...

So this is his senior year--he will not be able

to use the bathroom this year,'cause the decision won't...

That's gonna be a long year,that's a long year.

-I know. -For not usinga bathroom. I'm just saying.

But the truth is, though,trans folks often, um,

will, um, hold it inor not drink beverages so they

-don't go to the bathroom...-Are you being for real?

Because there's so much anxietyaround bathrooms in trans folks.

Um, and really...My friend Chase Strangio

who works at the ACLUreminds us that these bills

are not about bathrooms,they're about whether or not

trans people have the rightto exist in public space.

Someone in North Carolinasaid, well--

'cause, I mean, you really don'twant me in the men's bathroom.

I mean, I don't think you reallywant me in the men's bathroom.

-(laughing) -Um...maybe you do, I don't know.

-Um... but I don't think...-(laughter)

-I don't think youwant me there, -(applause)

and so if you don't want mein the men's bathroom,

you don't want mein the women's bathroom,

where are we supposed to pee?

And someone in North Carolinasaid, "Pee at home."

So I think these bathroom billsare really about

whether we want trans peopleto exist in public space or not.

-Yes. -Whether we have the rightto exist in public space.

And I... I'm here,trans people are here,

we've been heresince the beginning of time--

we have a right to existin public space, and...

-(cheering)-we just want to pee.

I love that.

-Well... -So,one last thing I want to say,

-Yes. -Trevor, is thatplease stand with Gavin Grimm,

let's tell transgender stories,let's let the Supreme Court

know who we are,so all the misinformation

about who trans people are,all this...

these things about privacyand women being threatened

by me being in the bathroom,let's, like, let people know

that that's a bunch of...

-(bleep)-Thank you.

-(laughter, whooping)-It's a bunch of (bleep).

-(applause)-That's exactly what it is.

You, um...

you are knownfor-for speaking out,

speaking your mind-- um, do youever listen to people who say,

like, "Hey, you're an actress,don't do politics,

just, uh, keep quiet and act"?

You know, I-I love acting,

and sometimesI have to focus on acting.

It's a very difficult job,and I love what I do,

and to be good at it,you have to focus on it.

But I was actuallyreally frustrated

that enough peopleweren't talking about Gavin.

And on Sunday, I didn't tellanyone I was gonna say, um,

google Gavin Grimm, 'causeI didn't want anyone telling me

-Yeah. -I shouldn't do it,and, um, after we spoke up

at the Grammys, um,#StandWithGavin

was trending on Twitter.

-Oh, wow. -Um,his Google, um, spikes went up,

like, a hundred percent,and now people are writing

about the case and know aboutthe case, and it's important.

There are a lot of thingsgoing on

in the world right now.We are...

You know, our heads are spinningfrom all the stuff going on,

but the current administration,

they're not just fightingagainst trans rights,

they're fighting againstwomen's rights.

They're fighting againstvoting rights.

They're gerrymanderingdistricts,

they're trying to deport people.

So they're multi-tasking,

-so we have to multi-task, too.-(Trevor laughs)

-I love the idea of themmulti-tasking. -Yeah.

It's like Donald Trump, like,and this, and this.


Let's talk about the acting.

-Let's talk about the show, Doubt. -Yes, yes, yes, yes.

This is a fascinatingand groundbreaking show.

Obviously, on the surface,

because you have a storyabout a transgender person,

-and yet, that is not the gistof the story. -Yeah.

What I love about Doubt,

from the episodethat I've seen, at least,

is the fact your characteris transgender

-just happens to be a partof who your character is. -Yeah.

-But the story is just a storyabout an attorney. -Yeah.

I'm sure that that's a big dealto you, but why?

Being trans, yeah,I talk about it a lot,

because we're beingdiscriminated against a lot,

and we have to highlight that,

but it's not everythingthat I am.

And what I love aboutour showrunners,

Tony Phelan and Joan Rater,they're married,

and they have a transgender sonin real life.

And they say about their son,Tom,

is that, yes, he's trans,but he's also--

they say he's messy-- that'stheir words, not mine.

That he's messyand he's an actor,

-and he's all theseother things. -Yes.

And all those other things arealso what makes us who we are.

We're not just one thing.No one's just one thing.

So that's reallywhat's exciting for me

about when I read the scriptthe first time.

I was like, is thisa trans character? Why?

'Cause usually people want meto read trans characters.

And I was like, where isthe trans thing?

And there's one little sentencewhere we understand

that Cameron is trans,and then we get on with it.

And it's like she's transand what else?

And what the "what else"

is that she's a reallypassionate attorney

who is a Yale graduate, who'sreally good at what she does.

And has chosento be a defense attorney

for pe-- a defense attorneyfor people who are accused.

Who are--when you come in contact

with the criminal justice system

it is the worst timein your life.

And we have a system that issupposed to presume innocence,

but far too often does not.

Just the, um, the ideaof how many times people

-will overcharge so that peoplewill take plea agreements. -Yes.

So that we keep peopleincarcerated.

We're a show that looks at--I've often thought that, um,

Elliot Gould plays Isaiah Roth,my boss on the show.

And Elliot Gould, to me, isa little bit, as Isaiah Roth,

is a little bit like BernieSanders, if he had a law firm,

it would kind of be likeRoth & Associates.

Isaiah Roth is this,um, this guy,

-dude who got arrestedin the 1960s... -Yeah, yeah.

You know, did... was a protestorand he's still liberal--

he has an Occupy Wall Streetposter in his office.

And he is the kind of dudewho believes that everybody

deserves a robust defense, nomatter what they're accused of.

And that the system is riggedagainst the little person.

The little...gender non-conforming person,

um, gender non-specific person,I don't want to say

"the little guy," you know?I've kind of moved beyond that.

-And... -(laughs) I likethat we're all learning this.

This is nice, this is likea journey that we're

-taking together. it's really great to work

for a person, um,who believes that.

And so it's a-it's a...Um, Tony Phalen said

it's sort of, um, a show aboutthese radical liberal lawyers,

you know?Um, but we look at both sides.

So, by the end...So-so, we're-we're empathizing

with these lawyersand with the clients,

but we're alsolooking at the other side.

So it's... You...It really encourages the viewer

to think critically about,um, about what justice means.

And I think that's a lot...something that a lot of us

are thinking criticallyabout right now.

It's-it's an entertaining showthat has a powerful story.

And like I say--most importantly--

-it's just a great story. Um...-Yeah.

One questionbefore you go, though.

What really interests meabout the story is--

and correct me if I'm wrong--

is this the first time you areplaying and maybe even seeing

a character that is trans

and is having romantic relations

with men who are fully awareof the character being trans?

-You know, so many times you-youwatch shows and... -It's...

and the trans is eitherthe punch line

or it's the,"Oh, my God, you're actually..."

You know, it's-it's thesurprise, it's the trickery,

it's... trans people are seento be tricking in society,

whereas in this caseit's men going,

"I find you attractive,we're going on a date."

I-I have a love storywhere the man pursues me,

knowing that I'm trans.We've seen...

We saw, in Dirty Sexy Money, ten years ago, which is a show

that actually changed my life--Um, Candis Cayne

was in a relationshipwith Billy Baldwin's character

-on that show, but we didn't seehow they got together. -Yeah.

She was his mistress.It was sort of this th...

We didn't see her being pursued.I think, with Doubt,

we see this sort of courtshipand the pursuit,

and we see it fromher perspective, too,

so it's not from the man'sperspective, which is nice.

Um... and we see itfrom her perspective.

And I've always wantedto see a show on television...

I date men in real life andthey're straight-identified men,

and there's so manymisconceptions about the men

who are attracted to and date,um, trans women,

and there's so muchstigma around that.

And I think, um, what wasso exciting about this show

is that the writerswanted to hear from me

and my own experiences,and I was very candid with them,

and a lot of that stuffended up in the script,

which was really great for meto play. So it's a realistic,

truthful, um...

story about datingand, um, pursuit

and-and maybe-maybe love.

-We'll-we'll see what happenswith all that. -Oh, wow.

I love how you're like...I love how you

went into your character--..."and maybe love."

I don't know about that guy.I don't know...

Like, in that moment,I felt you talking about

the actual character.It's-it's a...

-it's a really, reallyinteresting show. -Yeah.

-I'm so proud of youfor doing it. -Thank you.

I-I know thatit's gonna do well.

I look forward to seeing youon the screen again.

Doubt premieresWednesday, February 15

-at 10:00 p.m. on CBS.-(cheering, applause)

Laverne Cox, everybody.

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