Transgender-issues advocate and critically acclaimed actress Laverne Cox will speak at Illinois State University on Wednesday, Feb. 25.

Cox, who currently appears in the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black, will present Ain’t I a Woman: My Journey to Womanhood at 7 p.m. Feb. 25 in Braden Auditorium at the Bone Student Center.

The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required for entrance. Tickets for the public will be available at the Braden Box Office at the Bone Student Center, starting Feb. 16, with a maximum of four tickets per person. The talk is part of the Speaker Series at Illinois State University.

In Orange is the New Black, Cox plays the groundbreaking role of Sophia Burset, an incarcerated African-American transgender woman. The first transgender woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream scripted television show, her character was named one of the most influential fictional characters of 2013 by Time magazine.

A renowned speaker, Cox has taken her empowering message across the country of moving beyond gender expectations to live more authentically. Her insights have been featured on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NPR, HLN, VH1 and FOX NEWS LATINO, among other national TV and radio networks.

Cox is a recipient of the Dorian rising star award for her work in Orange is the New Black, and won best supporting actress at the 2013 Massachusetts Independent Film Festival for her work in the film Musical Chairs, directed by Susan Seidelman (Desperately Seeking Susan). Her other acting credits include Law and Order, Law and Order: SVU, HBO’s Bored to Death, and the independent films Carla and The Exhibitionists. She also has roles in the forthcoming films 36 Saints and Grand Street.

Cox is the first transgender woman of color to produce and star in her own television show, VH1’s TRANSForm Me, which was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award.  She is also the first transgender woman of color to appear on an American reality television program, VH1’s I Wanna Work for Diddy, for which she accepted the GLAAD Award for Outstanding Reality Program.

Named one of Out Magazine’s “Out 100,” Cox has also been called one of the country’s top 50 transgender icons by The Huffington Post, and one of Metro Source magazine’s “55 People We Love.”  Her critical writings have appeared in The Advocate and The Huffington Post.

The talk is sponsored by the UPB, and Illinois State’s Department of Psychology, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, School of Social Work, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of the President, Association of Residence Halls, Student Government Association and Diversity Advocacy.

For additional information about the event, call (309) 438-8814.

The Speaker Series of Illinois State University seeks to bring innovative and enlightening speakers to the campus with the aim of providing the community with a platform to foster dialogue, cultivate enriching ideas, and continue an appreciation of learning as an active and lifelong process.