MW: What’s coming up? Tell me about this movie 36 Saints, looks scary.
COX: Oh, thank you for reminding me of 36 Saints. I think it comes out Sept. 6. It’s a fun, horror-suspense film from the same people who did Musical Chairs, which I was also in. I play a nightclub promoter. It’s a small role, but it’s a great thriller.
I have a teeny-tiny role in Grand Street. I play Chardonnay. She’s a chick at an after-hours club, maybe the girlfriend of this mobster, but we’re really not clear on what she’s doing there.
We’re shooting [Orange Is the New Black] Season 2 right now. I’m looking at some scripts – like I don’t have enough to do! I’ve got some speaking engagements coming up in the fall, which I’m very excited about, at some places I can’t yet disclose. There’s a lot that I want to do, a lot of things in the works that I can’t talk about yet.
MW: Do you feel pressure to be a role model?
COX: Yes. [Laughs.] The short answer is yes. I don’t like the term ”role model,” though. I prefer the term ”possibility model.” Part of that is because with the term ”role model” there’s a lot of pressure there, and I’m deeply flawed and deeply imperfect. But I do think the idea of showing other people what is possible – because of my journey and my story – is important. Trying to be myself as authentically as possible, I understand I’m going to make mistakes and I might disappoint people. And that scares me a lot.
I definitely feel the pressure, but I’m trying to let it go. That’s a spiritual factor, to let that go. To let all that stuff go, and let go of expectations, that’s something I work on every day. I’m trying to do me. The reality is that my job is really just to be more authentically myself, as an artist, as a human being. I think people will connect with me when I am more authentically myself.
MW: Do you have a dream role?
COX: I definitely want to play Lady Macbeth at some point. I did a production of that years ago at a small theater here in New York City, and I was a witch. I want to be Lady Macbeth! That’s definitely a dream role.
MW: Earlier you mentioned young trans people who might be inspired by you. What message do you have for them?
COX: What I always say to trans kids, what I think is so important, is to figure out a way to stay in school and get an education. Often it’s not safe for trans and gender-nonconforming people to even be at school. So often because of bullying, they drop out. Education, education, education. I would urge kids to figure out how to get an education and become really good at something. Follow your passion. Find something you really love doing, because that will get you out of bed and get you through the tough times. Being creative, being an artist, I really feel like that saved my life as a kid. So, those are my two things: Find something you’re passionate about, and get a really good education.
MW: Anything you want people to know about you, anything that gets lost in the noise?
COX: Oh, gosh. I’m just a chick from Alabama trying to live my dream. At the end of the day, I just want to act and I want to hopefully have my voice maybe change they way people think about a thing, or see something they really like. That’s what I hope to do with my voice and my life.
Season 1 of Orange Is the New Black is available via Netflix streaming at netflix.com.