Laverne Cox has made her mark in entertainment and as an advocate for the advancement of Transgender individuals throughout the world. Her impact may not have been made possible if it weren’t for the Emmy-nominated actor’s appearance on a reality show, in which she fought for the role of Diddy’s assistant. The show would mark the beginning of her television career.
Laverne Cox competed on a reality series to be Diddy’s assistant
I Want to Work for Diddy premiered on VH1 in 2008. The series followed executives of all levels, hopeful for a shot to work as Diddy’s assistant. With the help of Diddy staff as guides, as well as other colleagues of the hip hop mogul, contestants went through a series of assignments laid out each week while often time split into groups.
Each week, a member was fired. The show mirrored the style of The Apprentice. Cox competed on season one, making history as one of the first African-American transgender people to compete on a popular reality series.
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Cox was eliminated after two episodes but she was not defeated. In fact, she auditioned for the show with two goals in mind: exposure for her acting career and to bring attention to street harassment she’d experienced in New York City. She explained to The Observer in a 2014 interview:
I’ve been criticized for saying this, but it’s my truth. I thought it was important for the audience for that show to see a black rapper and media mogul embracing a trans woman of color on television. I was hoping it might change things for me and other trans women of color on the streets and in black communities. I never really wanted to be a personal assistant. I have always wanted to be an actor.
Due to her appearance on the show, I Want to Work for Diddy won an award for Outstanding Reality Program at the 20th anniversary of the GLAAD Awards. Cox accepted the award on the show’s behalf.
Laverne Cox’s appearance on ‘I Want to Work for Diddy’ jumpstarted her television career
After vying for the role of Diddy’s personal assistant, VH1 gave Cox her own show, as a star and producer. TransForm Me was a makeover series that followed three transgender women who provided deserving women makeovers and a confidence boost. The show only lasted one season, but it was enough exposure for Cox to earn more work.
She appeared in a string of guest roles, including on shows like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Girlfriends Guide To Divorce, and The Mindy Project. But her most notable role came with a recurring role in the Netflix original series, Orange Is The New Black, in 2013.
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Glamour at home as quarantina continues. Painting my face used to be therapeutic for me. Then I started working with world class makeup artists. My own makeup artistry didn't match theirs. I got so perfectionist and I lost the therapeutic part of painting my own face. Doing my makeup last night for a shoot from home felt so therapeutic again. .. .. @brenebrown reminds us that perfectionism is a vulnerability shield. It's the belief that if we are perfect in every aspect of life that that perfectionism will shield us from the hard stuff, from risk, uncertainty and emotional exposure . But vulnerability is inevitable and beautiful. … And yes I get the irony of me embracing my imperfections wearing a ton of makeup, pounds of magic hair behind a sickening ig filter. Lol. I'm a work in progress. … What have you done that feels therapeutic for you today? … #TransIsBeautiful
In the Netflix series, Cox starred as Sophia Burset, a Trans woman serving time in prison for credit-card fraud. Her twin brother starred as Cox’s character pre-surgery. Cox enjoyed the platform the show gave her as a voice for the Trans community.
“I just want to work, and do quality work, and ‘Orange Is the New Black’ has set the bar really high for that,” she once said, as reported by Yahoo News. “Wonderful scripts, wonderful directors… I think it’s important for trans folks specifically, but for anyone, really, who’s not seeing their stories told on television to see their stories told up there and see people like them on TV.”
Cox currently shares her journey on the Netflix docuseries, Disclosure.
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