'Doubt' Star Laverne Cox "Grateful" for Landmark Role; Katherine Heigl Admits TV Return Is "Terrifying"

"To be a black transgender woman in [this] position on CBS is really special," Cox told reporters.
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Laverne Cox (left), Katherine Heigl

As CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller was anxious to emphasize earlier on Wednesday, when reporters at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour were grilling him on the network's lack of diversity, CBS is home to one first this season.

Doubt's Laverne Cox is the first transgender woman to star as a transgender woman on a broadcast series. The actress, whose show won't debut until midseason, was asked about how she felt about that status during the drama's panel later on Wednesday afternoon.

"I'm really, really grateful to have a job as an actor," she said. "I'm an avid TV watcher, and there are people in my community who watch a lot of TV. Growing up, I did not see people like me on television. That folks can have a character like Cameron, who is Ivy League educated, it's wonderful. And to be a black transgender woman in that position on CBS is really special."

Cox's character, a powerful attorney, has one other benefit for the actress: "She wears really great stuff, too."

Cox has achieved considerable notoriety, thanks to her role on Netflix's Orange Is the New Black, which has made her one of the more prominent faces in the ongoing civil rights battle for transgender Americans. She also is the star Fox's upcoming Rocky Horror Picture Show remake, so she unsurprisingly fielded a few more questions than the Doubt co-star on the top of the call sheet: Katherine Heigl.

Her last visit two years ago, for NBC's State of Affairs, found Heigl asked to address rumors that she's "difficult." Since timing is everything, her Wednesday TCA appearance came just a day after her Knocked Up co-star Seth Rogen resurfaced talk of her displeasure with the film — but the topic did not come up.

The actress was asked how she felt about having to promote a new show after unsuccessfully trying to launch another one so recently.

"It's always kind of thrilling," she said. "It's also terrifying and stressful — and if one goes there, and I'm trying hard not to, scary. I'm trying to focus on how much fun it's been."

Heigl also made a crack about her status on the show, jokingly lamenting that she couldn't negotiate an executive producer credit on Doubt, like she had on State of Affairs. "I actually loved being a producer," she said. "It was engaging in a totally different way, but this was all in place [when I joined]. I really tried to let them have me be one. I'm just an actor."