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Inspiring Black Artists Who Champion Mental Health: Laverne’s Story

As we celebrate Black History Month, we want to highlight Laverne for her openness about her mental health journey.

As we celebrate Black History Month, we want to spotlight outstanding Black figures who’ve made their mark with their talents and shown us the power of being real about their lives and mental health journeys.

These Black artists, dancers, and actors are open about who they are, flaws and all, and they teach us valuable lessons.

They remind us that it’s totally okay and normal to face tough times and challenges no matter who you are. Life isn’t always smooth sailing, and that’s alright.

They highlight the importance of seeking help when it comes to mental health. Reaching out for support is a sign of strength, not weakness.

They remind us that speaking up and standing for your beliefs can positively change the world.

We hope these stories inspire you from these artists’ actions and the words they want you to hear.

You’re not alone in your journey; just like them, you can overcome anything with determination and resilience.

Why we’re celebrating Laverne

Laverne Cox is an actress and prominent LGBTQ+ advocate who has left an indelible mark on both the entertainment industry and the fight for transgender rights.

She soared to fame with her groundbreaking portrayal of Sophia Burset in the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black,” achieving a historic milestone as the first openly transgender person nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. Her presence on screen shattered barriers and ushered in a new era of representation, particularly for transgender individuals and people of color.

Cox continues to utilize her platform to speak openly about her experiences as a transgender woman, tirelessly advocating for increased opportunities and acceptance for transgender people within Hollywood and society at large.

Cox’s journey towards self-acceptance was far from easy. She openly discusses her experiences of childhood bullying and the profound struggle of feeling like a girl in a world that insisted she was a boy.

“I, again, internalized a lot of shame about the way I was thinking about myself and about who I was. It was a difficult journey to self-acceptance, and I had to confront many negative thoughts about myself.”

Source: I’m From Driftwood

Her path to self-acceptance and advocacy took a transformative turn when she crossed paths with Tina Sparkles, a trans woman whose remarkable transformation served as a powerful source of inspiration. Cox fondly recalls, All my misconceptions melted away.”

Laverne Cox boldly declares on her website:

“MY LIFE CHANGED when I realized I deserve to be seen, to dream, to be fully included, always striving to bring my full humanity.”

Laverne Cox’s Website

In a conversation with Al Roker, Cox eloquently highlights the intersectionality of her identities.
“I think it’s really important that in all of our movements for social justice, we cannot leave anyone behind,” she emphasizes. Cox underscores the significance of media representation for the LGBTQ+ community and the urgent need to challenge stereotypes.

While Cox acknowledges the challenges she has faced as a Black trans woman in Hollywood, she considers herself fortunate and is committed to paving the way for others.

“The question for me becomes… as I produce, how to bring other people along for the ride.”

Her Mental Health Journey

Cox has spoken openly about protecting her mental health, especially with attacks on transgender people growing.

“I think of the violence against trans people—it has really [messed] me up,” she said.

Cox has since a young age had conversations with therapists and said that the Trauma Resource Institute’s Community Resiliency Model had a massive impact on her mental health.

And it is something she continues to work on every day.

“I’m responsible for my mental health. I’m responsible for how I respond or don’t respond to trauma. I can have compassion for myself and grace for myself. We have to lean into those things that bring us joy. And the things that don’t, we need to let them go to protect our mental health.”

Cox told People.

She lists off some of the ways she tries to do that: “It might be a song. It might be the thought of a person. I’ll think about my boyfriend cooking breakfast for me and I just light up inside. We have to lean into those things that bring us joy.”

Cox has also discovered specific techniques that help to calm and ground her.

“For me, it’s about breathing and feeling my feet on the floor. Smell is also really big for me. The smell of lavender or vanilla can really calm me,” she says. “And I’m very tactile. I have a fuzzy robe that I wear, that I will rub and it just makes me feel good. Even just rubbing my arms, sort of caressing myself, is a soothing thing that lets my body know it’s safe.”

We hope these stories inspire you, just like these athletes inspire us. Remember, you’re not alone in your journey. With determination and resilience, you can overcome anything.

‘Head in the Game’ is here to help support young peoples mental health. To learn more about the ‘Head in the Game’ program click here. Young people can also explore resources to support their mental wellbeing by clicking here.