Orange Is the New Black's Selenis Levya on Growing Up with a Transgender Sister: I Fight for Her 'on a Daily Basis'

Orange Is the New Black's Selenis Levya on Growing Up with a Transgender Sister: I Fight for Her 'on a Daily Basis'
Selenis Leyva
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

07/29/2015 AT 12:00 AM EDT

Selenis Leyva shares a special bond with her Orange Is the New Black costar Laverne Cox.

"I love her. She's my sister," Leyva, who plays Gloria on the hit Netflix series, told reporters of Cox at a Television Critics Association panel at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills on Tuesday.

Leyva went on to explain that her real-life sister is transgender, which made filming a season-3 scene, in which Gloria verbally attacks Sophia (Cox), difficult.

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"I felt a little weirded out having to get so ugly," Leyva said. "I had to say things and go to a place that I fight on a daily basis to make sure that my sister doesn't receive. So that, to me, was so hard to do."



But, ultimately, Leyva relied on Orange creator Jenji Kohan to tell the story responsibly.

"I had to trust that it was going to be done in a way to educate instead of foster more hate," Leyva said. "And it worked out."
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