Transgender Actress Makes History With Emmy Nomination

By Julissa Catalan

Actress Laverne Cox made history last week when she became the first openly transgender actress in the award’s history to garner an Emmy nomination.

Cox is nominated in the Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series category for her portrayal of inmate Sophia Burset in the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black.

On hearing the news, Cox told People magazine, “I jumped up and down and then cried. My agent of seven years, Paul, was the first person to call me. I’d auditioned for other agents in the past who all told me, ‘I can’t do anything with you, you’re trans, I don’t think you’ll be able to get work.’ But Paul saw something in me and took a chance.”

This isn’t the first time that Cox has made groundbreaking leaps for the transgender community. She became the first transgender person to grace the cover of Time magazine earlier this summer.

Laverne Cox was born and raised in Mobile, Ala. She and her brother were raised by a single motherher father was never in the picture. She grew up feeling different and being bullied for looking and acting different. Cox eventually came out as transgender when she moved to New York City to pursue her acting career.

In her Time Q&A, Cox was asked: The people out there in America who have no idea what being transgender means. What do they need to understand”

Her response: “There’s not just one trans story. There’s not just one trans experience. And I think what they need to understand is that not everybody who is born feels that their gender identity is in alignment with what they’re assigned at birth, based on their genitalia. If someone needs to express their gender in a way that is different, that is OK, and they should not be denied healthcare. They should not be bullied. They don’t deserve to be victims of violence. That’s what people need to understand, that it’s OK and that if you are uncomfortable with it, then you need to look at yourself.”

In total, Orange Is the New Black is up for 12 awards at this year’s Emmys, including Best Comedy Series, as well as in various acting, directing, writing and technical categories. It’s the most nominations for any comedy series this season.

The 20132014 season was a good one for the LGBT community on television. In addition to Cox’s historic nomination, gay-themed shows such as The Normal Heartwhich is up for 16 Emmysand Modern Family have dominated this year’s awards circuit.

Multiple openly gay actors also are being recognized, including Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory and The Normal Heart), Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart), Ryan Murphy (The Normal Heart), Jane Lynch (Hollywood Game Night), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family) and Zac Posen (Project Runway.)

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