Laverne Cox On Why Her Nails Are Her Biggest Power Move

Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic.

Laverne Cox distinctly remembers the first time she played with nail polish. It was a pretty pink color, and she was 6 years old. The actress and transgender activist grew up watching (and then, later, helping) her mother with the task before setting out to paint her own — and, if you've seen her talons as of late, you know she still hasn't slowed down.

The only difference now: Cox doesn't fuck around with pink anymore. These days, she prefers her nails sparkly, metallic, or red — and spiked to a tapered point. "Stiletto nails soften my big ass hands," she tells Refinery29. But, the cherry on top? "They also feel like claws, which make me feel more feline and powerful."

That energy surges through everything Cox does, from playing resident badass Sophia on Orange Is The New Black to collaborating with Beyoncé on Ivy Park sweatshirts. "I love feeling sexy and powerful," she says. "I am definitely a glamour girl when it comes to my red carpet style." This fact feels particularly fitting today, especially because Cox just announced a limited-edition collection with nail polish brand Orly inspired by the Emmys. (She'll be debuting one of the shades tonight.)

"The collection is called 'Celebrate Yourself' because when I get my nails done, it is about doing something for myself — pampering myself," she explains. "It's about giving everyone the opportunity to feel glamorous in their day-to-day lives. Every single one of these colors makes me smile inside when I look at them. That's what I want when I look at my nails."

The shades, as you can see, are bold, glimmering, and every bit look-at-me-now as you'd expect — and Cox tells us she named them all herself. From left, there's Shine (a metallic silver), Party In The Hills ("a gravel that just feels opulent and whimsical to me," she says), Halo (which she "doesn't just love 'cause it's the name of a Grammy Award-winning Beyoncé song, but also because the gold glitter feels as if it should exist in nature but didn't"), Million Dollar Views (a metallic copper), Mirrorball (a sparkly gray that makes Cox feel like she's been "transported to the Studio 54 era") and Androgynie (a glitter-flecked black that's like "a sparkly showgirl with a dark side").

It's all glitz and glam, sure. But Cox adds that, sometimes, she's all about keeping it real, too. "When I'm not being photographed, I love to just chill in hoodies," she says. "Hoodies make me feel safe and cozy and a little badass. I like to bring it all the way down. No makeup on, but I still want to feel sexy — the kind of sexy when I am not trying to be. I just am."

Orly Celebrate Yourself Collection, $49, available on Orly Beauty.