The Courier-Mail

First Lady among transgende­r actor’s many fans

- 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.” ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, SHOWCASE, SUNDAY, 7.30PM

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

LAVERNE COX

ON HER SUCCESS

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