Actress Laverne Cox will speak at Northwestern on April 28

Matthew Choi, Reporter

Actress and activist Laverne Cox will speak at Northwestern later this month as A&O Productions’ spring speaker, the group announced Sunday night.

Cox, a transgender woman, will speak April 28 at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall on issues of gender, race and class. Cox, who plays Sophia Burset on the Netflix show “Orange is the New Black,” became the first openly transgender actress to receive a Primetime Emmy Award nomination. She will share her experiences confronting social biases and inequality.

Cox’s talk is part of her nationwide tour, “Ain’t I a Woman: My Journey to Womanhood.” The event, hosted by A&O, Rainbow Alliance and One Book One Northwestern, will include a Q&A session. People will be able to send questions through Twitter and Facebook before the talk.

Michelle Margulis, outgoing president of Rainbow Alliance, said she hopes Cox’s speech will engage more students in discussions of race, class, gender and inequality.

“The topics the speaker is going to address happen to be really tied to a lot of issues that people are already talking about on campus,” the Communication senior said. “There have been so many speakers this quarter and last quarter that have already touched on these issues so we’re excited to be part of the dialogue.”

As an entertainment organization, A&O tries to explore issues of diversity in the industry, said A&O spokeswoman Emily Howell, a Communication senior.

“Laverne Cox is great because she’s a successful entertainer but she doesn’t shy away from talking about real, hard issues and things that I think a lot of people aren’t aware of about race and class and gender,” said Rainbow Alliance spokeswoman Sylvia Regan, a Weinberg freshman.

A&O, Rainbow Alliance and One Book One Northwestern started collaborating on the event a year ago, said April Quioh, A&O director of speakers.

Although only freshmen were required to read this year’s One Book, “Whistling Vivaldi,” the groups said the event will allow the entire student body to engage in the book’s key themes of race and the role of stereotypes in society.

“A lot of One Book One Northwestern’s events cater to freshmen,” said Quioh, a Communication senior. “But this will be an opportunity for upperclassmen to think about the themes of the books once again.”

Tickets will go on sale for $10 on April 21 at 10 a.m.

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