“Orange is the New Black” actress Laverne Cox will no longer be closing out the University Lecture Series (ULS) this semester. However, another Netflix star will be taking her place.
David Harbour will be stepping out of his “Stranger Things” police uniform and on to the ULS stage Nov. 20 in the Marshall Student Center (MSC) Oval Theater.
The Campus Activities Board announced in an Instagram post on Nov. 13 that Cox will no longer be able to speak at the lecture due to “filming conflicts.”
However, ULS Student Programs Coordinator Isabelle Arroyo-Acevedo said the team was told that there was a general scheduling issue.
“The reason could really range from anything,” Arroyo-Acevedo said. “It could be because of filming conflicts, they could have been picked up for a new project or family conflicts.”
Center for Student Involvement Associate Director Josh Wilson said that ULS was notified of Cox’s cancellation Oct. 31 and quickly had to seek out other potential speakers. Luckily, he said the experience went smoothly because of the middle agent.
“We have a pretty good relationship with the agency who booked the act so they were honest about the situation and wanted us to still have someone that would have the students’ interest,” Wilson said.
Harbour’s contract was officialized last Friday, Nov. 8. He will be paid $39,700 for the lecture, whereas Cox was expected to be paid $40,000, according to Arroyo-Acevedo.
As of right now, it is unsure if Cox will reschedule the lecture in the future.
“We aren’t sure if the scheduling conflict will last for a long while or if it’s temporary,” Arroyo-Acevedo said. “Hopefully, we will be able to figure that out soon.”
Even though students were initially excited to hear about Cox’s experiences, Arroyo-Acevedo said Harbour’s announcement has been equally accepted.
The RSVP link was opened the day of the announcement and within hours it was close to its capacity. The Oval Theater can hold up to 700 people.
Even if ULS reaches its RSVP limit, Wilson said students are still welcome to attend the event, but they won’t be guaranteed a seat.
“We offer the RSVP to people who want to have an easier process, but that doesn’t mean people can’t show up the day of if they are interested.”
Harbour was ranked No. 2 — Cox ranked No. 1 — on the ULS survey that was sent out at the beginning of the semester. The survey provided a list of celebrities and topics that students would be interested in. One such topic was mental health, which Harbour is an advocate of.
Although Harbour is well-known for his role as emotionally detached Chief Hopper on “Stranger Things,” he openly speaks about his depression and bipolar disorder as well as the stigma surrounding mental illness.
“He’s a large mental health advocate and is very expressive on that topic so we believe students will be interested in hearing his story,” Arroyo-Acevedo said.
Even with Harbour’s popularity, Wilson said he does not think ULS will need an additional room to livestream the event.
The doors to the Oval Theater will open at 7:30 p.m. and the event will begin at 8 p.m. Students can start joining the line at 5:30 p.m.
“We are excited that David [Harbour] was able to work out and provide students with the opportunity to learn about his experiences,” Wilson said.