Laverne Cox (born May 29, 1972) is an American actress and LGBT advocate. She rose to prominence with her role as Sophia Burset on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, becoming the first transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in any acting category, and the first to be nominated for an Emmy Award since composer Angela Morley in 1990. In 2015, she won a Daytime Emmy Award in Outstanding Special Class Special as executive producer for Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word, making her the first transgender woman to win the award. In 2017, she became the first transgender person to play a transgender series regular on US broadcast TV as Cameron Wirth on CBS's Doubt.Cox appeared as a contestant on the first season of VH1's reality show I Want to Work for Diddy, and co-produced and co-hosted 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. In June 2014, Cox became the first transgender person to appear on the cover of Time magazine. Cox is the first transgender person to appear on the cover of a Cosmopolitan magazine, with her February 2018 cover on the South African edition. She is also the first transgender person to have a wax figure of herself at Madame Tussauds. Contemporary Black biography. Volume 122 : profiles from the international Black community. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, Cengage Learning. 2015. ISBN 9781573024310. OCLC 904154846.
Cox was born in Mobile, Alabama, and was raised by a single mother and grandmother within the AME Zion church. She has an identical twin brother, M Lamar, who portrayed the pre-transitioning Sophia (as Marcus) in Orange Is the New Black. Cox has stated that she attempted suicide at the age of 11, when she noticed that she had developed feelings for her male classmates and had been bullied for several years for not acting "the way someone assigned male at birth was supposed to act".She is a graduate of the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, Alabama, where she studied creative writing before switching to dance. She then studied for two years at Indiana University Bloomington before transferring to Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, where she switched from dancing (specifically classical ballet) to acting. During her first season on Orange Is the New Black, she was still appearing at a restaurant on the Lower East Side as a drag queen (where she had applied initially to work as a waitress).