Laverne Cox makes history with today’s Emmy nomination

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In a race of obvious snubs and lazy acclaim, one Emmy nominee is being celebrated not just because the masses agree she deserves it, but because she’s also made history. 

Actress Laverne Cox has been nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her portrayal of Sophia Burset in Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. With the nod, Cox has become the first openly transgender actress to be nominated for an Emmy, in any category. 

The show itself has racked up 12 nominations, including: Outstanding Comedy Series; Taylor Schilling for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series; Kate Mulgrew for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series; and noms for actresses Uzo Aduba and Natasha Lyonne, who share Cox’s category for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. 

The ladies of Litchfield Prison seem to speak to the underdog in all of us. Created by Jenji Kohan and based on the memoir by Piper Kerman, Orange is the New Black has embraced diverse narratives as it juggles multiple story lines exploring a myriad of characters. 

Other LGBT-themed television events this year—Looking, Behind the Candelabra, The New Normal, and The Normal Heart—have also helped propel the distribution of diverse stories. It’s a trend no one denies we should celebrate. However, as Vox contributor Alex Abad-Santos points out, there are levels of diversity within diversity that have, thus far, been largely ignored. “…If your knowledge about gay life and the gay rights movement came solely from television and movies, you might think that the only people fighting the good fight are good-looking, affluent gay white men and their good-looking, affluent white boyfriends and husbands,” writes Abad-Santos. “What are we missing when we don’t acknowledge non-white gay characters?”

Cox’s nod from the Emmy powers that be is not only a feather in her own cap, but a victory for minority actors, and characters, across the board. The headline of Cox’s TIME cover from earlier this year is continuting to prove true: the transgender tipping point has undeniably arrived. 

Cox took to her Facebook today to thank her active fan base for their support, and to share that victory with them, writing: 

Today is truly a dream come true for me. Working on such an incredible show with such talented professionals has truly been the reward for me since we started shooting Oitnb 2 years ago. But this Emmy Nomination today is very welcomed and delicious icing on an already sumptuous cake. 

Thanks to the cast and crew of Orange for all the love and support, for your professionalism. Special shout out to Jodi Foster who directed the episode where we leaned Sophia ‘ s back story and Sian Heder who wrote it and to all our writers. Especially to Jenji Kohan. This recognition of 12#‎EmmyNoms for your genius today is beyond well deserved. You are everything Jenji.

For my trans siblings, I love you so much. I share this nomination with you. May all of our stories be told with the depth of humanity the brilliant writers, cast, crew and our creator Jenji Kohan have shown with the portrayal of Sophia Burset. As I celebrate this day I can’t help but remember it is still a state of emergency for far too many trans people across this country right now. We need love, and support. We need public policy and our fellow citizens to value our lives and our humanity. Most of all we, ourselves need to value our lives. The more I treat my life as if it has value, the more the universe has been saying, “Yes Girl”

Special thanks to my agent Paul Hilepo, my acting coach Brad Calcaterra and my acting mentor Susan Batson

Congratulations again to Laverne Cox, and to all of the Emmy nominees this year. The show will take place on August 25, hosted by Seth Meyers. 

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