Hours after CBS president Glenn Geller’s contentious session at Television Critics Association, during which members of the press pushed him on the network’s lack of diverse leads, the cast of “Doubt” took the stage at the summer press tour.
Laverne Cox’s casting marks the first-ever transgender actor to play a transgender character in a series regular role on broadcast TV — a milestone that Geller applauded during his Q&A earlier in the day.
“I’m really, really grateful to have a job as an actor,” Cox said during the “Doubt” panel. “Four years ago, I was standing in February of 2012 in New York City with an eviction notice in my hand…so I’m just really happy to have a job.”
In the upcoming legal drama, Cox plays Cameron Wirth, a trans Ivy League-educated lawyer. During the TCA panel, creators Tony Phelan and Joan Rater revealed that the show’s case-of-the-week storylines will touch on violence and hate crimes against transgender people, along with rapes on college campuses. Rater also announced that a love interest for Cox’s character “that I think people will be interested in” will be introduced in the first season.
“What’s so exciting about Cameron for me and for being on CBS is that I’m an avid TV watcher…and growing up, I didn’t see people like me on TV,” Cox said of her history-making role. “That piece is really wonderful that folks can have someone like Cameron who is Ivy League educated. It’s wonderful to get to play a character and to be a black transgender woman in that position on CBS is really special.”
Garnering laughter from the room, Cox quipped, “And, she wears really cool stuff, too.”
Cox stars in “Doubt” alongside an ensemble cast that includes Katherine Heigl, Steven Pasquale, Dulé Hill, Dreama Walker, Elliott Gould and Kobi Libii.
The drama marks Heigl’s return to TV after her highly-anticipated post-“Grey’s Anatomy” vehicle “State of Affairs,” which was cancelled by NBC after one season. Heigl also served as an executive producer on the short-lived show.
“I actually loved being a producer. It was so fun for me and it was so engaging in a totally different way,” Heigl said, adding that she wanted to be an EP on “Doubt,” as well. “I really tried to let them let me be one and they said no — so I’m just an actor.”
Asked by a reporter about her experience jumping from one show to another, Heigl admitted that the process is “scary.”
“It’s always kind of thrilling. You can deny that fact that over time this opportunity happens and this coalescing of events takes you to this moment right here…just to get the pilot made and then to get it picked up…it’s a whole exciting process but it’s also terrifying and stressful,” Heigl said. “I think I’m really just trying to stay focused on how much fun it’s been and how much I love Tony and Joan and their stories…I’m really excited for people to see this, and I think people are really going to love this.”
Cox shares the same sentiment as Heigl. “CBS has a great track record in this sort of thing,” the “Orange Is the New Black” actress said. “They’ve been really wonderful in this process, and it’s really nice to be with a network that knows what they’re doing.”