Laverne Cox Feels ‘So Much Love’ in Making History at the Emmys

Laverne Cox arrives at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards

John Shearer/Invision for the Television Academy/AP

updated 09/03/2015 AT 7:49 PM ET

originally published 08/26/2014 AT 10:45 AM ET

For Laverne Cox, Monday wasn’t just a special night. It was a historic one.

The Orange Is the New Black star was the first openly transgender actress to be nominated for an Emmy Award. And the significance of the moment wasn’t lost on her.

“I feel so blessed to be a vessel for this moment. I think it was inevitable, right?” she told PEOPLE at the show. “There have been other trans folks in other categories who have been nominated. We have to acknowledge our history. But I’m really blessed and grateful.”

Cox, 30, was nominated for outstanding guest actress in a comedy series. That award went to her OITNB costar Uzo Aduba (and was actually handed out a week ago at the Creative Arts Emmys). But Cox hardly felt like a runner-up – quite the opposite.

“It’s wild because there’s a lot of haters out there, but there’s been so much love,” she said. “And people just love our show so much, and they’re connecting to these characters in really human ways. And I’ve been really lucky that people have been connecting with me and my story as well.”

Cox also spoke giddily about her incredible Emmys dress: a custom Marc Bouwer creation decorated with Fred Leighton diamonds.

“I was like, ‘Wow!’ I’d never seen anything like it. And it’s so elegant,” she said. “Thank you, Marc Bouwer, I love you!”

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• Reporting by JENNIFER GARCIA

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