INTERVIEW: Laverne Cox Is Raising The Barre With Smirnoff And This Black-Owned Fitness Studio

In an exclusive chat with the Emmy-nominated actress, trans activist, and Smirnoff national ambassador has partnered with SideBarre to support Black women entrepreneurs across the country.

Emmy-nominated actress, trans rights activist, and Smirnoff National Ambassador, Laverne Cox, has partnered with the brand and D.C.-based fitness studio, a Black women-owned small business, SideBarre!

In an ongoing effort to support the Black women entrepreneurs across the country, the partnership will give hundreds of adults (21+) a special chance to attend a series of complimentary inspirational virtual bar(re) classes from their own homes. 

Smirnoff has generously pledged a total of $500,000 since June 2020, with an immediate $250,00 donation to the Transgender Law Center and an additional $200,000 to help local organizations in the fight for social justice. 

RELATED: Laverne Cox Partners With Shonda Rhimes For Podcast Series

“They’re a company that is clearly committed not just giving lip service to diversity, inclusion, and equity but really putting their money where their mouth is,” said Cox in an exclusive interview with noting that she loves working with Smirnoff because they provide opportunities that go beyond their delicious products and focus on empowering a variety of communities.

The brand has donated $50,000 to Black Girl Ventures, a charitable organization whose goal is to provide community and capital access for Black and Brown women-identifying business founders.

RELATED: Laverne Cox Pushes TV Academy To ‘Diversify’ Emmys Voters For Trans Inclusivity

“We know that white folks have four or five times the wealth of Black folks and that entrepreneurship is a great way for us to begin to build wealth,” she continues. “Entrepreneurship is a great way for us to begin to build wealth and to support Black women. Black and brown women-owned businesses are a  great way to support the Black community. It helps us to build some wealth and have a lot of fun doing it.” 

(Photo L-R: Maya Dennis, Jillian Carter and Alexis Miller / Smirnoff)

Photo L-R: Maya Dennis

(Photo L-R: Maya Dennis, Jillian Carter and Alexis Miller / Smirnoff)

Cox will be in attendance as a special guest for the first session of the series of classes that will be held on Wednesday (March 3) led by SideBarre founders Jillian CarterMaya Dennis and Alexis Miller, for a guided inspirational barre classic, cardio, stretch combination session.

Following the class, lucky participants will hydrate before joining Smirnoff, SideBarre, Cox and a few other celebrity guests at Smirnoff Bar for an intimate Q&A session. A virtual happy hour will follow featuring  Smirnoff Zero Sugar Infusions Lemon & Elderflower cocktails and mocktails.  

Chatting with, Cox opened up about her workout regime amid the COVID pandemic and why the Smirnoff x SideBarre partnership is so special. Tell us what it is about Smirnoff partnering with the D.C. fitness studio, SideBarre, that made you decide that you wanted to attach your name to the effort?

Laverne Cox: What’s great about SideBarre is, I grew up studying classical ballet so I was standing at a ballet bar for most of my childhood, adolescence all through my teenage years into my early 20s. I’m not in the best shape in terms of ballet. But, I love that it's a great way to stay fit. I've discovered during the quarantine my mental health is tied to my physical health. The workouts that I'm doing at home are crucial and mixing that up is really crucial and SideBarre will help us s to do that. 

There are just so many reasons for me to be really excited about this partnership on so many different levels. We're also introducing the new zero sugar infusions Lemon and Elderflower flavor from Smirnoff. We're introducing that next week with this event.

(Photo by Smirnoff)


(Photo by Smirnoff) How important is fitness a part of your day-to-day regime, especially during the COVID pandemic? 

LC: I feel better psychologically and mentally after a workout. It’s good for me physically but I have found that it is more important to my mental health.  Do you have a typical workout routine? 

LC: Like most people, I’m in and out. I have not been consistent. I don’t have a trainer at the moment. For , the character, Kacy Duke, that I am playing in the new Shonda Rhimes show, Inventing Anna, I did workouts with this trainer based in New York and I actually really enjoyed it. I’m hoping the SideBarre class will kickstart me into incorporating more of my old dance background into my workout more consistently. But for working out at home, I’ve been doing weights, my own version of cardio with weights, and stretching. Stretching for me is really crucial and important. I’m 48, so I have to stretch to make sure everything is not creaking. You launched your podcast, The Laverne Cox Show, at the end of January. What has that experience been like to connect with other women so far on hot button issues? 

LC: I’ve said that I want to go on a spiritual makeover on this podcast and that is what it has turned out to be for me. In the episode that comes out next week (first week of March), I interview my therapist, specifically about trauma resiliency work and the community resiliency model. 

The podcast is really about becoming the very best version of ourselves and having the tools to do that. It is multipronged, and things I ask myself are: "What is my part in something?" "What things can I control in my life? And "What are the things that are out of my control that are systemic?" The reality is that certain people aren't going to see my full humanity because I'm a Black trans woman and but that's not on me. That's part of a system that needs to be changed. What do you value most from The Laverne Cox Show

Having a sort of systemic analysis and a better understanding while doing the internal work of better ourselves, I try to think in those terms on my podcast and in my life. What is the structural thing that we need to sort of be reimagining and dismantling and building anew? And what is this personal thing that I can be doing? If enough people are working on themselves and working on this stuff, and then we all come together collectively, we can change the system.

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