Laverne Cox, actress and LGBT advocate has experienced quite a fulfilling year. Since landing her breakout role in 2013 in the ever so popular Netflix series, “Orange is the New Black,” playing Sophia Burset, the transgender inmate, Laverne has become one of the popular and talked about actresses today.
Our nation has gained one of the most passionate LGBT advocates. Laverne has been traveling the country as a high demand speaker who promotes a movement that is much more than just gender expectations and trans rights.
In the midst of building her success, Laverne Cox was the first transgender woman to ever be on the cover of TIME Magazine. Then, most recently on July 10, 2014 she made history once more in the entertainment world when she became the first transgender actress to receive an Emmy nomination.
With her infectious passion of her individuality, her courage to take risks in order to change the face of society and her badass chase toward her goals, it is hard to find a reason not to love Laverne. Here are 10 facts you should know about the remarkable, modern icon:
1. She has a twin brother:
Laverne’s twin, a musician known as by M. Lamar, appeared on “Orange Is The New Black” playing her character, Sophia, in her pre-transition stage.
2. She knew she was transgendered since elementary school:
Laverne knew she was not meant to be a man since she was very young. Her 3rd grade teacher even called her mother, saying, “Your son is going to end up in New Orleans wearing a dress if you don’t get him into therapy right away.”
In her mind, she could not understand difference between girls and boys at that point in time. Laverne remembers thinking she would naturally start turning into a girl once she hit puberty.
3. She felt such shame in middle school that she tried to end her life:
During 6th grade, when puberty began, her attraction to men grew much stronger than she could handle.
Throughout middle school she struggled with bullying, being banned from her church and feelings she did not quite understand at the time, even through therapy. Sadly, because she felt there was no other option Laverne attempted to overdose on pills.
4. She was the first African-American trans woman to appear on a reality competition show
In 2008 she appeared in VH1′s “I Want to Work for Diddy” reality TV competition show. Laverne says she appeared on the show to advance her acting career, but also to prove she was just as qualified as the other contestants.
5. She was the first African-American trans woman to produce and star in her own show
“I Want to Work for Diddy” motivated Laverne to produce and eventually star in her own show, “TRANSform Me,” a show about makeup also shown on VH1.
“TRANSform Me,” made her feel like she was truly becoming part of a movement much bigger than herself, but she was prepared for whatever was to come.
6. She will never give up on what she believes in; breaking gender expectations:
Gender Expectations is one of the most important topics/debates for Laverne. She is always promoting its importance, no matter where she is. Her message focuses on “living more authentically rather than fitting into pre-defined gender roles.”
She stresses how narrow-minded it is to assume stereotypical ideas from either gender; must men be certain levels of masculine and tough, or must women be certain levels of feminine and dainty? Laverne believes it is about abandoning these assumptions and experiencing the freedom of being true to you.
7. She quit her restaurant job only one year ago:
Admiration, acknowledgment and tribute are not nouns that Laverne has experienced her whole life. It turns out she only quit her restaurant “day job” a year prior to receiving her Emmy nomination. Were you as surprised by this as I was? Just fascinating.
8. She was one of TIME Magazine’s “Most Influential Fictional Characters,” of 2013:
Let’s get a little more specific, Laverne made it to the TOP 5 of this phenomenal list. Her “Orange is the New Black” role as inmate hairdresser Sophia Burset received the fourth spot on TIME Magazine’s list of attention-grabbing characters.
9. She stars in John Legend’s new video
Laverne makes a quick appearance in Legend’s new music video for “You and I (Nobody in the World).” The video promotes obtaining an optimistic self-image instead of relentlessly criticizing the way you look.
10. She’s writing a memoir
She is currently writing her story for the world to read, highlighting her roots, the challenging journey through her transition and her rewarding arrival to self-fulfillment.
Laverne has only been in the entertainment world for a short time but has already made a profound impact on our society. As time passes and she continues on her success path, I can only imagine what other greatness is coming her way.