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Laverne Cox on How #LoveTravels Celebrates Living

Laverne Cox says #LoveTravels is about celebrating who you are. (Photo: John Fleming Photography)

Actress and activist Laverne Cox is all about “getting” her life and giving life. She certainly gives it in her role as Sophia Burset on the binge-worthy Netflix series, “Orange is the New Black.” She’s also giving it as a trans-woman role model not only for the LGBT community, but also mainstream America.

Marriott TRAVELER caught up with Cox at the Long View Gallery in Washington, D.C., for the unveiling of Marriott Reward‘s #LoveTravels art collaboration, a collage of 3,500 art submissions from nearly 100 countries, celebrating Pride Season. She talks about why inclusiveness and the #LoveTravels campaign is so important; how she packs for a quick trip to the beach; and why she’s obsessed with visiting Europe.

What does #LoveTravels mean to you? How do you apply it in your everyday life?

Well, as you know, #LoveTravels was started by Marriott Rewards to encourage people to embrace their personal passions and our stories. That’s the way I live. I believe if you find something in this world that you love – something that you’re truly passionate about – it can save your life. For me as a young person, that was dancing, that was art, that was being creative.

It is also about celebrating who you are, which is really important — especially during Pride and especially as a black trans-woman in a world that often tells us that we are not lovable or that we’re not worthy.

#LoveTravels celebrates who I am and what I love. Love is healing and it’s healed me even when I did not believe in myself… I believed in the things that I loved. And there are moments when we’re not going to believe in ourselves and we’re not going to trust ourselves, but there might be something we love to do; or a movie we love; or an idea that we love … and that can be life saving.

I’ve met so many people — trans, LGBT, cisgender, heterosexual — who’ve told me that my work has touched them that my journey, my story, my visibility has touched them. You touch people in so many ways you don’t even know. So the idea of #LoveTravels is a healing experience… healing yourself… healing the world. Getting your life!

laverne cox ross mathews lovetravels
Laverne Cox and Ross Mathews celebrate #LoveTravels and Pride Season in Washington, D.C. (Photo: John Fleming Photography)

Speaking of travel and “getting your life”, what’s your favorite place to relax and unwind when you’re not working? Why?

As a New Yorker, I love a quick trip to Miami because when I travel on vacation I don’t like to travel more than three hours. I’m on the road a lot for work and so being on an airplane feels like work; so I want to get on and off a plane pretty quickly. And so I’ve done a lot of quick trips to Miami. I like the warm weather, beaches, pools there.

What specifically do you like about the city? Are there specific restaurants or things to do that you would recommend for first-time visitors to Miami?

To be perfectly honest because I’m kinda famous, I have to keep it really chill and keep my favorite places private. I try to keep it low-key and go to the same places. And because I’m on vacation, I don’t want to be photographed or be in situations where I need to be “on” all the time. So I’m usually trying to be very “incog-negro.”

Before taking a weekend trip, you have to pack a bag. First, do you pack a small weekend bag or large suitcase? And what are the travel essentials you never leave home without?

I’m a light packer. I hate checking luggage. The great thing about beach vacations is that you can pack a ton of swimsuits, especially the ones I wear. So if I’m heading to the beach I pack a lot of short shorts, jean shorts and again, bikinis. You can pack a lot into carry-on luggage to avoid taking up much space.

I’m really good. I’ve packed two couture, red-carpet gowns in carry-on luggage with tulle and everything (snaps her fingers). And my essentials are basic toiletries like moisturizer, a flat iron, toothpaste and toothbrush.

Packing heels can be tricky because they take up the most space. So if you can re-wear shoes or pack just one pair of shoes that really helps. But you have to have your stuff… I’m kinda high maintenance.

I went to Toronto to work for four months and I actually had to check a bag. Before that… I hadn’t checked a bag in six years.

Can you share your most memorable travel moment or the moment you felt like you were inspired to explore the world and continue traveling?

My Hawaii trip with my mom in 2012 was magical. Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places in the world. We went to Maui and stayed in the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort and Spa, which was great. We were in the infinity pool for hours. It was incredible!

My mom was really feeling it (Maui), so she arranged a volcano tour in a plane that only holds six people. Those planes are very scary. I felt like I was 5 years old, holding on to my mother again. I was scared to death that the plane was going to crash. The guide said, “We’re going to tilt the plane and show you this volcano.” I was like… why are you tilting this plane? We were in a little plane that felt like it was going to be blown out of the air by the wind.

But it was so beautiful. It’s God. It’s like you see it… and you get this real experience that this is what God has made. It was absolutely stunning, but I would never do it again… the plane part. It was scary, but amazing! I’m gonna go back to Hawaii.

So you enjoy Miami and Hawaii, but are there other places you’d like to cross off your bucket list?

Oh, I’ve got tons. I’ve been to Europe once. I was in Paris and Berlin last year, and so, I want to spend more time in Europe… obviously Amsterdam, Italy, London and I want to go back to Paris.

Is there any particular reason why these places appeal to you?

You know… it’s the culture. I grew up studying classic ballet and I was obsessed with opera. These things started in Europe. I wanted to experience that culture because I grew up studying art. It has been a huge part of my life… going to an arts high school and having a brother who’s a visual artist. There’s just so much beautiful art there.

I remember the line at the Louvre when I went… girl, that line was so long, I was like, I would like to go to the Louvre, but I’m not standing in this line. So I have to go back to Paris and I just want to experience Paris’ culture, history and the years of struggle.