Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox was a female transgender actress known as much for her powerful acting ability as for her role as a movement spokeswoman. Her breakthrough role came on Netflix's female prison drama series "Orange is the New Black" (2013-), in which she played transgender prison inmate Sophia Burset, although she also appeared in the series "Law & Order" (NBC 1990-2010) and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC 1999- ). She got her break as the first transgender constant on Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' reality television show "I Want to Work For Diddy" (VH1 2008-2010), leading to a series of her own reality production "TRANSform Me" (VH1 2010). Cox grew up in Mobile, Alabama, and was the subject of bullying and discrimination because of her sexuality. At this time her twin brother, the singer known as M. Lamar, was a constant companion to her. He went on to play the flashback, pre-gender swap version of Sophia as a firefighter who steals credit cards to fund his swap in "Orange is the New Black," in an episode directed by Jodie Foster. Having lived openly as a woman since the late 1990s while a student at Marymount Manhattan College in New York, Cox took the decision to step away from reality television and work exclusively as an actress following "TRANSform Me." She also wrote for the Huffington Post on transgender issues. Her film work included supporting roles in Susan Seidelman's dance drama "Musical Chairs" (2012) and Paul Weitz's comedy-drama "Grandma" opposite Lily Tomlin. In 2016, she starred as Dr. Frank N. Furter in the TV musical "The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again" (Fox 2016). THe following year, Cox co-starred in legal drama "Doubt" (CBS 2017) and appeared in the Trudie Styler-directed film "Freak Show" (2017).