Sunday, July 13, 2014

Out Spotlight

Today's Out Spotlight is an American actress, reality television star, television producer, and LGBTQ advocate. She has recently made history by becoming the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy in an acting category. Today's Out Spotlight is Laverne Cox.

Laverne Cox was born in Mobile, Alabama March 29,1984. She has a twin brother, M. Lamar, who portrays her character, the pre-transitioning Sophia (as Marcus) in Orange Is the New Black. Cox attempted suicide at the age of 11. She is a graduate of the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, Alabama and Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, New York, where she began acting.

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. 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." 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. 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."

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." 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.'"

Also in 2013 she won Best Supporting Actress at the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival for her work in the praised film Musical Chairs, directed by Susan Seidelman (Desperately Seeking Susan).

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.


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.

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.

This past week Cox made history by becoming the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy in an acting category for her role as Sophia Burset in Orange Is the New Black., and the first to be nominated for an Emmy since composer/musician Angela Morley's last nomination in 1990.

For her role on Orange is the New Black, an intensive casting process began when the production team needed a man who looked convincingly like Cox to appear in the scenes depicting Sophia's backstory. Cox said a slew of "really butch black men" auditioned until a perfect solution fell into the show's lap.

"Our casting director found out that I have a twin brother, and she insisted that he should audition for the role," Cox said. "He auditioned, and he got the part."

Though the casting turned out to have a happy ending, Cox said she originally wanted to play the male role herself. But Jodie Foster, who directed the episode in which Sophia's backstory is explored, didn't think it would work.

"I was like, 'I have to butch it up,' because I don't think Jodie believed that I could pull this off. I go to Jodie and she looks at me and she's like, 'We're gonna have to hire someone,'" she said. "Jodie Foster didn't think I looked masculine enough to play a guy."

In April 2014, Cox was honored by GLAAD with its Stephen F. Kolzak Award for her work as an advocate for the transgender community.


She was also #1 on British newspaper The Guardian's third annual World Pride Power List (issued in the year 2014), which ranks the world's most influential LGBT people.

The same day as her Emmy nomination, Cox was featured in John Legend's video for his new song "You & I (Nobody In The World)"

3 comments:

AUS10 said...

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JJ said...

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Florida Tom said...

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