Transexual actress Laverne Cox finds unlikely path to stardom with 'Orange Is the New Black'

Laverne Cox stars in  Netflix’s ‘Orange Is the New Black.’ 

 

She may have been born a he — but now she’s a star.
Netflix’s latest series, “Orange Is the New Black,” has been a critical hit and has left fans buzzing.
Among the most popular characters on the women-in-prison drama is transgender inmate Sophia Burset, who is played by real-life transgender actress Laverne Cox.
 “The reality is you don’t often see trans characters played by trans folks,” Cox told the News, “and there aren’t a lot of trans roles written to begin with.”
In an early episode, directed by Jodie Foster, Sophia’s back story revealed how she was once a former fireman named Marcus who longed to be a woman.
It was a role Cox simply wasn’t man enough to play — although it wasn’t for lack of trying. She underwent an eight-hour hair and makeup test to construct a more masculine look, and then presented herself to Foster.
 
M. Lamar, twin of Laverne Cox, played the character before she undergoes a sex change to become Sophia.

 

M. Lamar, twin of Laverne Cox, played the character before she undergoes a sex change to become Sophia.

“Jodie looked at me and said, ‘We’re going to have to hire someone.’ She didn’t think I was butch enough to pull it off!”
Then casting directors realized that Cox has a twin brother, musician M. Lamar.
“He went into the audition and he killed it,” Cox said. “I guess acting runs in the family a little bit.”
  Talking exclusively to The News about his experience on “Orange Is the New Black,” Lamar was initially hesitant to participate because he considers himself more of an underground artist, but decided to take a chance on the role.
“My main goal was to create this passing kind of straight black masculinity,” Lamar said. “I needed to be believable on the surface but to also have layers underneath that were about an intense conflict.”
It was a good call for both of them.
“Orange Is the New Black” is considered one of the best dramas of the year, and speaks to the growing number of women’s roles in TV.
“The most powerful thing about our show,” Cox said, “is that there are voices of women that we don’t often get to hear and stories that we don’t often get to see.”


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