Laverne Cox

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Laverne Cox
Laverne Cox 2014 crop 2.jpg
Cox at the 2014 GLAAD Media Awards
Born May 29th, 1984
Mobile, Alabama, U.S.
Occupation Actress, reality television star, television producer

Laverne Cox is an American actress, reality television star, television producer, and LGBTQ advocate.[1][2][3] Cox is perhaps best known for portraying Sophia Burset 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] On June 9, 2014, Laverne Cox became the first openly transgender person to appear on the cover of TIME magazine.[5][6]

Early life[edit]

Cox was born in Mobile, Alabama. She has a twin brother, M. Lamar, who portrays the pre-transitioning Sophia (as Marcus) in Orange Is the New Black.[7][8][9] Cox attempted suicide at the age of 11.[10] She is a graduate of the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, Alabama[11] and Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, New York, where she began acting.[8]


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. 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.[12][13] 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."[14][15][16] 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 media outlets, such as the Huffington Post.[13] 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."[17]

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."[18] 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.'"[19]

In January 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.[20]

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.[21]

Cox was on the cover of the June 9, 2014, issue of Time, and was interviewed for the article “The Transgender Tipping Point" by Katy Steinmetz, which ran in that issue and the title of which was also featured on the cover; this makes Cox the first openly transgender person on the cover of Time.[5][22][23]



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: Special Victims Unit Candace Episode: "Closet"
2008 I Want to Work for Diddy (season 1) 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–present Orange Is the New Black Sophia Burset 19 episodes
Nominated—Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series


  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. ^ a b Westcott, Lucy (2014-05-29). "Laverne Cox Is the First Transgender Person on the Cover of Time". The Wire. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  6. ^ "21 Transgender People Who Influenced American Culture". Time Magazine. 
  7. ^ Bertstein, Jacob (2014-03-12). "In Their Own Terms – The Growing Transgender Presence in Pop Culture". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-06-21. 
  8. ^ a b C.J. Dickson (July 25, 2013). "She’s a survivor". Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  9. ^ "'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. 
  10. ^ Hughes, Sarah. "Laverne Cox: ‘We live in a binary world: it can change’". The Independent. Retrieved 21 June 2014. 
  11. ^ Interview by Will O'Bryan August 8, 2013 (2013-08-08). "Laverne Cox Rocks – Metro Weekly - Page 2". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  12. ^ "TRANSform Me". VH1. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  13. ^ a b "Laverne Cox Bio". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  14. ^ "Laverne Cox and Calpernia Addams at GLAAD Awards 2009". 
  15. ^ "GLAAD and MTPC Launch I AM Trans People Speak video series". 
  16. ^ "On the Carpet at the GLAAD Media Awards". San Francisco Sentinel. 
  17. ^ Douvris, Michelle. "Sitting Down With Orange is the New Black Star Laverne Cox". Emertainment Monthly. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  18. ^ "Reader's Choice Award". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  19. ^ Vieira, Meredith. "Laverne Cox and her Transgender Transformation (OVERSHARE EP 3)". Lives with Meredith Vieira. YouTube. Retrieved 21 November 2013. 
  20. ^ "Laverne Cox flawlessly shuts down Katie Couric’s invasive questions about transgender people". 2014-01-07. Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
  21. ^ "The post-Katie Couric shift: Laverne Cox tells Salon why the media’s so clueless". 2014-02-06. Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
  22. ^ Katy Steinmetz. "The Transgender Tipping Point". TIME. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  23. ^ Myles Tanzer. "Laverne Cox Is On The Cover Of Time Magazine". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 

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