Being Herself: Celebrating Laverne Cox for Pride Month
For Pride Month, we are honoring the life and work of Laverne Cox, one of the most celebrated contemporary transgender actresses and activists.
Laverne Cox’s life is filled with firsts: the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy in an acting category; the first transgender person to be on TIME magazine’s cover, and the first openly transgender person to have a wax figure at Madame Tussaud's — just to name a few.
Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Cox was a creative child, who found solace in her own imagination, loving to perform and dreaming of being famous, albeit lonely and isolated.
In the third grade, a teacher called her mom and said that, unless Cox received therapy, that Laverne was destined to end up in New Orleans, wearing a dress. Until then, Cox knew she was different but didn’t see anything wrong with it. Her teacher’s comment gave her the message that defying gender norms was the equivalent of being a degenerate. Given her dream of wanting to be a famous performer, Cox believed that she couldn’t be a degenerate, therefore she couldn’t wear dresses or act feminine.
Through time, Cox learned that the best way to achieve her goals was to be herself. In college, she studied creative writing, dance, and acting. In 2013, Cox earned her role as Sophia Burset in Orange Is the New Black. A year later, the actress was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. Today, Cox’s credits include The Mindy Project, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Dear White People, and more.
Perhaps most impressive, Cox is known for her advocacy just as much as her acting career. In 2015, Cox went on a speaking tour of college campuses in the U.S. and Canada with a lecture called “Ain’t I a Woman.” Cox’s advocacy led to an official policy change by the website IMDB, allowing users to remove their birth name. Her activism earned her an honorary doctorate degree from the New School in 2016.
During Pride Month, we honor Cox’s bravery, and her work to be the first for so many roles. We look forward to seeing and supporting the amazing positive impact she continues to make.