Laverne Cox

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Laverne Cox
Laverne Cox 2014 crop 2.jpg
Cox at the 2014 GLAAD Media Awards
Born Mobile, Alabama, U.S.
Occupation Actress, reality television star, television producer

Laverne Cox is an American actress, reality television star, television producer, and LGBT advocate.[1][2][3] A transgender woman, Cox is perhaps best known for portraying Sophia Burset, a trans woman sent to prison for credit-card fraud, in the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. She is also known for appearing as a contestant on the first season of VH1's I Want to Work for Diddy, and for producing and co-hosting the VH1 makeover television series TRANSform Me. In April 2014, Cox was honored by GLAAD with its Stephen F. Kolzak Award for her work as an advocate for the transgender community.[4]

Early life[edit]

Cox was born in Mobile, Alabama. She has a twin brother,[5] who portrays the pre-transitioning Sophia (as Marcus) in Orange Is the New Black.[6][7] She is a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, New York, where she began acting.[6]


Cox is best known for her recurring role in the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black as Sophia Burset, a trans woman sent to prison for credit-card fraud, and is the hairdresser for many of the inmates. She is also known for appearing as a contestant on the first season of VH1's I Want to Work for Diddy, as well as producing and co-hosting the VH1 makeover television series TRANSform Me, which made her the first African-American transgender person to produce and star in her own TV show.[8][9] Both those shows were nominated for GLAAD media awards for outstanding reality programs, and when Diddy won in 2009, Cox accepted the award at the GLAAD ceremony, giving a speech described by the San Francisco Sentinel as "among the most poignant because [it] reminded us how important it is to tell our stories, all of our stories."[10][11][12] She has also acted in a number of TV shows and films, including Law and Order: SVU, Bored to Death, and Musical Chairs.

In addition to her work as an entertainer, she speaks and writes about transgender rights and other current affairs in a variety of venues, such as the Huffington Post.[9] Her role in Orange is the New Black provides her a platform to speak on the rights of trans people. In a recent interview, she stated, "Sophia is written, as a multi-dimensional character who the audience can really empathize with—all of the sudden they’re empathizing with a real Trans person. And for Trans folks out there, who need to see representations of people who are like them and of their experiences, that’s when it becomes really important."[13]

In November 2013 she was chosen as the recipient of the Reader's Choice Award at Out Magazine's OUT100 Gala, honoring the magazine's selection of 2013s 100 "most compelling people of the year."[14] Cox is also the Anti-Violence Project 2013 Courage Award honoree and in the interview for it on YouTube, she stated, "Wikipedia says I'm an 'activist,' but I prefer transgender 'advocate.'"[15]

In January of 2014, Cox joined trans woman Carmen Carrera on Katie Couric's syndicated show, Katie. Couric referred to transgender people as "transgenders," and after being rebuffed by Carerra on the subject of her surgeries, specifically what genital augmentation she had done, turned the same question to Cox. Cox responded,

I do feel there is a preoccupation with that. The preoccupation with transition and surgery objectifies trans people. And then we don’t get to really deal with the real lived experiences. The reality of trans people’s lives is that so often we are targets of violence. We experience discrimination disproportionately to the rest of the community. Our unemployment rate is twice the national average; if you are a trans person of color, that rate is four times the national average. The homicide rate is highest among trans women. If we focus on transition, we don’t actually get to talk about those things.[16]

News outlets such as Salon, The Huffington Post, and Business Insider covered what was characterized by Salon writer Katie McDonough as Couric's "clueless" and "invasive" line of questioning.[17]



Year Title Role
2011 Carla Cinnamon
2011 Musical Chairs Chantelle
2012 The Exhibitionists Blithe Stargazer
2013 36 Saints Genesuis
2013 Grand Street Chardonnay


Year Title Role Notes
2007 Law and Order: SVU Candace Episode: "Closet"
2008 I Want to Work for Diddy Herself 6 episodes
2008 Law & Order Minnie Episode: "Sweetie"
2009 Bored to Death Sex Worker Episode: "Stockholm Syndrome"
2010 TRANSform Me Herself Host, producer
8 episodes
2013 Orange Is the New Black Sophia Burset 13 episodes


  1. ^ "Laverne Cox Press Page". Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  2. ^ Erik Piepenburg (2010-12-12). "Helping Gay Actors Find Themselves Onstage". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  3. ^ "Meet the Gay Man and Transgender Woman Who Want to Work for Diddy". AfterElton. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  4. ^ Rich Ferraro (March 31, 2014). "Laverne Cox to be honored at 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles". GLAAD. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  5. ^ In Their Own Terms:The Growing Transgender Presence in Pop Culture, quote=Laverne Cox grew up in Mobile, Ala., with her identical twin brother and her mother, a single parent who worked two to three jobs at a time to make ends meet.
  6. ^ a b C.J. Dickson (July 25, 2013). "“She’s a survivor”". Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  7. ^ "“'Orange Is the New Black' Star Laverne Cox on Her Twin Brother's Surprising Role on the Netflix Series”". Yahoo TV. August 20, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2014. 
  8. ^ "TRANSform Me". VH1. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  9. ^ a b "Laverne Cox Bio". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  10. ^ "Laverne Cox and Calpernia Addams at GLAAD Awards 2009". 
  11. ^ "GLAAD and MTPC Launch I AM Trans People Speak video series". 
  12. ^ "On the Carpet at the GLAAD Media Awards". San Francisco Sentinel. 
  13. ^ Douvris, Michelle. "Sitting Down With Orange is the New Black Star Laverne Cox". Emertainment Monthly. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  14. ^ Reader's Choice Award
  15. ^ Vieira, Meredith. "Laverne Cox and her Transgender Transformation (OVERSHARE EP 3)". Lives with Meredith Vieira. YouTube. Retrieved 21 November 2013. 
  16. ^ "Laverne Cox flawlessly shuts down Katie Couric’s invasive questions about transgender people". 2014-01-07. Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
  17. ^ "The post-Katie Couric shift: Laverne Cox tells Salon why the media’s so clueless". 2014-02-06. Retrieved 2014-02-27. 

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