Laverne Cox: Gender Bender

Her age remains a mystery, but Laverne Cox is an open book when it comes to the naked truth about bullying, advocating and being transgender in Hollywood.

The success of an ensemble production depends largely on the tenacity and collaborative effort of each of its members — a seamless synergy that fuels its engine system and keeps it purring softly. If there’s any show on television that nails that formula, it’s Orange is the New Black.

Last summer, Netflix and Jenji Kohan introduced us to a gang of diverse and truly unforgettable women. On the surface they’re a group of incarcerated misfits, but after one episode, it’s clear that they’re stories aren’t simply intertwined, they’re tangled together like a stubborn knot. Enter Laverne Cox, otherwise known as the show’s cosmetic MacGuyver, Sophia Burset. Arrested and imprisoned after stealing money for her gender reassignment surgery, her mix of sass and class are the heart and soul of this already beloved series.

You’ve seen her on a host of other shows (Law and Order, HBO’s Bored to Death) including the hugely popular I Want to Work for Diddy, but it wasn’t until last summer’s OITNB summer premiere that fans really bonded with the Laverne they thought they knew. She’s got talent oozing from her pores, but the crux of her work lies in a tireless effort to advocate for the transgender community.

Born and raised in the dirty south, Laverne’s upbringing was far from pleasant as she and her twin brother fell victim to bullying on a daily basis. It wasn’t until she began the challenging transition process that the advocate came into her own and out to the world. No longer a victim of transphobia, Laverne’s confidence and vulnerability flawlessly translates to the small screen and everyday life.

Face beat, hair laid, and press-on nails in hand, it’s clear that this won’t be a typical celebrity sit-down. Theatrics and comedic one-liners aside, Cox isn’t afraid to flash some flesh and bare all.