Laverne Cox knew she wanted to be a performer by the time she was in the third grade.
She said she found her inspiration from the movie “Gone With the Wind” and a fan she bought while on a field trip to Six Flags .
“I wanted to fan myself — I longed to fan myself like Scarlett O’Hara,” Cox said.
But after only a day of acting out her dreams at school, Cox said she was forced to go to the principal’s office, and her mother was called and warned about the consequences of letting her child, who was biologically a male, act like a girl.
Cox, who is a transgender woman and stars in the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black,” gave a lecture, “Ain’t I a Woman: My Journey to Womanhood,” to a crowd of hundreds at the Student Union Tuesday.
Before Cox found her feminist influences — ranging from abolitionist Sojourner Truth to her friend and drag queen Tina Sparkles — Cox said she was taught to hide her true gender.
“The only thing I wanted to be was myself, and my self was very feminine,” she said. “I felt shamed, I felt very policed as to who I was.”
Zoey LeTendre, program adviser for the Carolina Union Activities Board, which hosted the event, said Cox’s message of finding yourself applies to everyone — especially college students.
Cox told the audience it took many years of struggle to claim her gender and accept the realities of both her sexuality and race.