Laverne Cox, a recurring cast member on Orange Is the New Black, achieved an incredible milestone back in February when was nominated for an Emmy for her role as Sophia Burset. That’s because the nomination made her the first transgender person to ever be nominated for an Emmy in the awards ceremony’s 66-year history. But she couldn’t have achieved this milestone without an important source of inspiration, a fact the star has recently shared with her followers.
On Instagram, Cox posted a lengthy explanation into the story of Tracey “Africa” Norman, a black transgender woman who recently shared her own story with New York Magazine. Norman managed to have a successful career, including being used on the boxes of Clairol hair care products, until her secret got out and she was blacklisted and shunned by companies and peers. The image used by Cox for her post shows Norman when she was younger, with the related title and credits for the New York Magazine story.
I am so excited that #TraceyAfrica has chosen to share her historic, groundbreaking story with @nymag. When I discovered several years ago through @transgriot's, #MonicaRoberts' blog that there was a black trans woman who had been on a box of Clairol hair color 40 years ago it gave me such a sense of hope and possibility for my dreams and aspirations. The hardships she endured make me weep. But her story and the stories of so many black woman and trans women from the past remind me that the road in many ways has been paved for me. I must merely walk on those existing paths. But we must acknowlege those roads that have been made for us and by whom. #TransIsBeautiful #BornBeautiful. I celebrate you Tracey Africa Norman and the road you have paved for me and so many. Link in BioAdvertisement
In her Instagram post, Laverne Cox makes it abundantly clear that the stories of Norman and those like her have had a major impact on how she has approached her own life and career. “The hardships she endured make me weep. But her story and the stories of so many black woman and trans women from the past remind me that the road in many ways has been paved for me [sic],” Cox explained. “I must merely walk on those existing paths. But we must acknowlege those roads that have been made for us and by whom. [sic]”
At least 18,000 people liked the post, sharing in and appreciating Cox’s sentiments. Many expressed surprise at Tracey Norman’s story, having never heard it before, while others jumped straight to pointing out how amazing the story was. But perhaps the most touching comments were the ones that told Laverne Cox that she was an inspiration as well, both for what she’s accomplished in her career thus far and for what she’s done for the sake of the trans community.