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'OITNB' star Laverne Cox brings the drama on MTV's 'Faking It'

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Laverne
Scott Everett White/MTV

Laverne Cox is trading in her orange jumpsuit for a more dramatic role on MTV’s Faking It.

On Tuesday’s episode, the Orange Is the New Black actress will make her side-splitting debut as Margot, the demanding director of the school’s drama department who will hilariously push Karma (Katie Stevens), Shane (Michael J. Willett) and Lauren (Bailey De Young) to their limits. How did the Emmy nominee book a ticket to Hester High? EW hit the set to find out:

How did you guest-starring on Faking It come together?

I got an email with an offer. It’s lovely as an actor to not have to audition and to get an offer. I got a lovely handwritten note that was scanned and attached to the email from [executive producer Carter Covington], which was very sweet. He said he was a huge fan and he’s worked with LGBT youth and the Trevor Project, so this meant a lot to him. I read the script and was like, “This looks like so much fun!” I didn’t know the show because I had been really super busy with a bunch of other stuff, but I got around to taking a look at the show’s first season. I really liked it. I thought it was really sweet. I loved the idea of this alternative universe where the kids who were usually the outsiders are the ones that are popular. I love that and I love this character Margot. She’s completely different than anything I’ve gotten to play before.

Do you think if Orange’s Sophia Burset went down a different route, she’d be like Margot at all?

[Laughs] A drama teacher? Sophia does do hair out of necessity, but no. They had very different paths. I think Margot was in the drama club when she was at Hester. She was one of those kids who was performing her whole life, so it’s in her blood.

What do you like about playing Margot?

When I read it, I was really excited. Some of my first ballet teachers when I was young were over-the-top, huge personalities. It’s something that I feel like I know really well and I love. It just felt right. Margot is so theatrical and I did a lot of theater back in the day.

This show sends a positive message about the LGBT community. Was that part of the reason you were attracted to playing this role?

Most of the demographic is kids and the other show that I’m on seems to strike a chord with young people as well because of the nature of how we watch and stream the show. The children are the future, so what I’ve been so excited about is that young people are so open to thinking differently about the world around them. That’s what it’s all about.

Do you feel pressure ever being a representative of the LGBT community?

I do feel the weight of it sometimes. Lately, I’ve just been trying to focus on the work and find the balance of being an artist. I was so excited when this offer came for Faking It because I’m an actor at the end of the day. All the other things that I do are important to who I am, but I’m an artist. For me, it’s important to get to continue to push myself to do new things, get better and to grow.

Do you have a lot of people coming up to you now and sharing their stories?

I get a lot of folks sharing. A lot of folks come up to me saying lovely things about how my journey has inspired them. It means a lot to me. I meet a lot of students [on my college tour], who share how my work has inspired them in an authentic way. If that’s part of my legacy, it’s pretty good. I’m too young to think about my legacy. [Laughs]

Is there anything you can say about the new season of Orange?

I can’t say anything. I’m having a good time, though. I’m just consistently blown away with how amazing the actresses on Orange Is the New Black are. I was on set and just marveled at take after take after take of what our actresses were delivering. It was just a delight to watch. Just being on set as an actress, viewer and fan of our show—I love our show—I love these women and am so inspired by them. I hope to live up to the high standard that is set by my co-stars on the show.

What’s your favorite part of playing Sophia?

What people have really connected with is her relationship with her family. Whenever I’d get a scene with Michael or Tanya Wright, who plays my wife Crystal, we get to the core of who Sophia is. Those relationships are so complicated and layered that it’s so fun to play because there’s what’s going on on the surface, but then there’s all this history, all this longing, love, loss and hope. It’s all this really complicated sh– that I just live for.

Faking It airs Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. ET on MTV.