First Lady among trans­gen­der ac­tor’s many fans

Herald Sun - Switched On - - ON THE COUCH - TIF­FANY BAKKER EN­TER­TAIN­MENT WRITER

Thanks to her turn as trans­gen­der hair­dresser Sophia Burset in prison drama Or­ange Is The New Black, Laverne Cox knew she’d gar­nered quite a fol­low­ing, but one par­tic­u­lar fan left her gob­s­macked. •

“I met Michelle Obama and she was like, ‘Oh my God, don’t tell me what hap­pens, I’m on the last few episodes’,” laughs Cox, dur­ing a break on the show’s New York set. “That was pretty freaky and pretty awe­some, think­ing of the First Lady watch­ing Or­ange Is The New Black at the White House.”

Cox has be­come a global phe­nom­e­non since first ap­pear­ing in the show’s de­but 2013 sea­son. Her char­ac­ter, Sophia, is a trans­gen­der woman in jail for credit card fraud com­mit­ted to fund her gen­der re­as­sign­ment surgery.

She’s an Emmy nom­i­nee (“I have the pro­gram with my name printed in it to prove it hap­pened”), a Time mag­a­zine cover girl (“my mother and I both have huge posters of the cover”), and she, along with Cait­lyn Jen­ner, have in­creased trans vis­i­bil­ity world­wide. “In­spi­ra­tion is a word I hear a lot, but I say, it’s just lit­tle old me,” smiles Cox, who de­scribes her­self as a “pos­si­bil­ity model rather than a role model”.

“I think it’s all about au­then­tic­ity. It’s won­der­ful folks are con­nect­ing to my story and strug­gles and tri­umphs — and Sophia’s as well — and find­ing in­spi­ra­tion.”

Cox says sea­son three, which has seen Sophia go through some par­tic­u­larly emo­tional and bru­tal scenes, has been the most “emo­tion­ally tax­ing”.

“Sophia has been in these in­tense emo­tional places and so stay­ing in that all day — I don’t al­ways come out of it,” she says.

•Cox says the show’s global ap­peal comes down to the di­ver­sity of the cast.

“We have these won­der­fully hu­man char­ac­ters who are com­pli­cated and not what you ex­pect,” she says.

As for her own ac­claimed per­for­mance, Cox feels val­i­dated as an ac­tor.

“I’m very pleased so far that I’ve been able to take what was a small­ish part and I’ve been able to make a nice lit­tle mo­ment for my­self,” she says, smil­ing. “And for some­one who has car­ried a lot of shame over the years, I’m feel­ing very proud.”

“For some­one who has car­ried a lot of shame, I’m feel­ing very proud”

LAVERNE COX ON HER SUC­CESS

OR­ANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, SHOW­CASE, SUN­DAY, 7.30PM

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