Laverne Cox On How Her Hair Relates To Her Identity

And how she refuses to be defined by it.

Laverne Cox Live Your Color
Laverne Cox c/o Matrix

Laverne Cox can add beauty ambassador to her resume. The multi-hyphenate star is the new face of a hair care campaign for Matrix Total Results, “Live Your Color,” which celebrates individuality and self-expression. 

When speaking to someone from the Matrix team, they revealed that while the brand had a long list of talent to choose from, Cox was the obvious choice for this campaign. Not only is she an award-winning actress, she’s also an activist in the LGBTQ+ community, using her platform to encourage people to stay true to themselves — to “live their color,” if you will.

Her positive energy is truly contagious, too. We saw it firsthand as she captivated a crowd of over 2,000 hairstylists during Matrix Destination 2020 in Orlando, FL. Twirling and dancing on stage, she had everyone on their feet before 10 a.m. But it was her words that really moved people. “Fashion and beauty have always been my way of showing the world who I was,” Cox said, but she went onto explain how she doesn’t let these things define her.

Still, she will be the first to admit that a full-beat face and good hair can make you feel damn good. We sat down with Cox after the event to discuss the Matrix Total Results “Live Your Color” campaign, how her hair relates to her identity, and what we can expect from her next.

Laverne Cox
Laverne Cox c/o Matrix

You are really thoughtful in the brands that you choose to work with and the campaigns that you choose to work on. Why did you choose to work on this campaign with Matrix?

LC: There are no labels. It doesn’t matter what hair texture or hair color you have, there is something for you. It’s about inviting everyone to the party. “Live Your Color” for me is about embracing every shade of who you are. It’s about inclusivity. It’s about everyone.

I think for so long so many people have felt left out of the beauty game. If you are a different shade or a different size or a different hair texture, you’ve felt left out. And in 2020, it’s not about leaving people out. Matrix Total Results is inviting everyone in. People need to see themselves and know that brands are there for them. I only support brands that support me.

For a lot of women, our hair is a reflection of our identity. It’s deeply personal but has also come to symbolize so much in society — freedom, power, femininity, culture. Can you tell me a little bit about your hair story and what it means to you?

LC: Yes, indeed. But you know, as you say that, I think as much as I love my hair, I love my various wigs, and I love glamour, I don’t want to be defined by it. I don’t want to be defined by a hairstyle or hair color or wig. I am who I am despite all that stuff. These are things to have fun with.

Still, it‘s hard not to have my identity wrapped up in my hair. I’m black, I’m trans, I’m a woman. I’m going to be real about it. I’ve had moments when I had shorter hair, and I hadn’t felt fully myself. So I definitely feel more myself when I have, you know, some inches going on. I’ve worn a wig everyday for the last few years. I even have a wig for the gym. For me, it’s all about versatility and having fun with my hair.

So would you say you feel most confident when you’re in full glam?

LC: I’ve been doing a lot of the opposite lately. I’m playing a character who is very, sort of stripped down, and so I haven’t been wearing this much makeup and doing this full glam as regularly. The beautiful thing is that I’m not defined by this, but it feels really good, you know? It’s a feeling. It feels really good to be beat for the Gods, to have my hair laid by Michelle O’Conner, and my makeup done by Deja Smith. But it’s so important for me not to be defined by this stuff and instead use it as a way of expressing myself. 

Speaking of expressing yourself, you have a lot of wigs in various styles and colors. Do you pick them out yourself?

LC: I have a lot of help. I collaborate with great hairstylists who have an expansive set of skills, but I’m very involved. I love working with artists who come with ideas and inspiration for different hairstyles, but I’m always taking screenshots of things I love and keeping them on my phone. It becomes art really, especially when you get to play with fun colors like this. These are things that I can put on and take off to switch things up or enhance how I feel.

Laverne Cox
Laverne Cox c/o Matrix

Who are your biggest beauty influences?

LC: Oh, everyone knows Beyoncé. It feels like such a cliché, but it’s the reality. Lately, I’ve also been inspired by a model from the ’60s named Donyale Luna. She’s the first black woman who was on the cover of Vogue magazine — it was British Vogue. I just did a photo shoot, and we were very inspired by some of her looks. I love looking back in history. I love looking back to the Audrey Hepburns of the world, even though I’m a black woman, and Diahann Carroll is also a huge beauty icon for me.

The beauty industry is slowly becoming more inclusive. What do you hope to see next?

LC: I think we still need to see more darker skinned models, not just someone who is black but deeper complexions particularly. I think darker skinned women still need to see affirming images of ourselves in beauty campaigns. I also think people with disabilities need more representation for sure. There are some amazing and beautiful people out there with disabilities who deserve to see themselves represented.

What can we expect next from you?

LC: I’m working a lot. I produced a film called “Disclosure: Trans Lives Onscreen.” It’s a documentary that looks at the first hundred years of trans representation onscreen, and it’s premiering at the Sundance Film Festival on January 27. I’ve also been working on a film called “Bad Hair” by Justin Simien, who is the creator of “Dear White People,” and “Promising Young Women” by Emerald Fennell. All at Sundance. I’m insanely excited about all of these projects. I’m also shooting a series right now for Shonda Rhimes on Netflix that’s based on the true story of Anna Delvey… You know the story. It’s very exciting. And there’s more! 

You might also like: 22 Celebrities Who Are Challenging Body And Beauty Standards

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