Laverne Cox to Speak At Smith

Photo Courtesy of Keppler Speakers | Actress, producer and activist Laverne Cox will be the 2017 SEC Spring Speaker.

Hira Humayun ’17 Editor-in-chief

Emmy-award winner Laverne Cox will speak at John M. Greene Hall as the Student Event Committee’s (SEC) 2017 Spring Speaker on March 8. The actress, producer and activist will speak about the role of race, class and gender in the lives of transgender women of color. The talk will be followed by a moderated Q&A session.

Speaking from her own experiences, Cox will speak about her journey to womanhood, self-acceptance, professional achievement and love, along with the challenges it presented. At SEC’s event, she will be answering questions related to the representation of trans people in the media and the challenges of pursuing an acting career and will address the different acting roles she has taken on within her career, such as in “Orange is the New Black” and upcoming CBS pilot, “Doubt,” which premieres in early 2017.

“SEC is really excited to host Laverne Cox for International Women’s Day,” said SEC Chair Becca Damante ’17. “I personally had the opportunity to see her speak before, and she was one of the best speakers I have ever seen.”

Best known for her role as Sophia Burset in the critically acclaimed Netflix series “Orange is the New Black,” the Emmy-winning producer and Emmy-nominated actress is the first trans woman of color to play a lead role on a mainstream scripted television show. Cox will also be appearing in “Doubt,” from the producers of “Grey’s Anatomy,” in which she will play the role of Cameron Wirth, a transgender, Ivy League-educated lawyer.

An Alabama native from a Christian family, Cox was raised by a single mother. She attended college in New York to pursue acting and has since gone on to appear films such as Lily Tomlin’s “Grandma,” independent films “Carla” and “The Exhibitionists,” and Susan Seidelman’s “Musical Chairs,” for which she won Best Supporting Actress at the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival.

She has made appearances in Law and Order,”  “Law and Order: SVU,” “Bored to Death,” Fox’s “The Mindy Project,” Bravo’s “Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce” and MTV’s “Faking It.” She has also appeared as a guest judge on “Project Runway All Stars” and hosted “#GoBold,” a web series by Revlon, celebrating powerful women accomplishing their goals.

Cox has also produced her own documentary, “Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word” which aired on MTV and explores the stories of seven transgender youth from across the country. It received a Daytime Emmy Award and was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award. She won the GLAAD Media Award for her show, VH1’s “TRANSForm Me,” making her the first transwoman of color to produce and star in her own television show, as well as for her appearance in VH1’s reality TV show “I Wanna Work for Diddy.”

Her collection of awards includes a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, a Critic’s Choice nomination for Best Supporting Actress and a NAACP Image Awards nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.

Alongside her acting career, Cox is also an outspoken advocate and speaker, appearing on the cover of TIME Magazine and securing a spot as Glamour Magazine’s 2014 Women of the Year. She received the Dorian Rising Star Award for her work in “Orange is the New Black,” the Courage Award from the Anti-Violence Project, The Community Leader Award from the LGBT Center of New York City, and a Reader’s Choice Award from Out Magazine.

Cox was named one of The Grio’s 100 Most Influential African Americans, one of the Top 50 Trans Icons by the Huffington Post, as well as one of Out Magazine’s Out 100, and landed a spot on the Ebony Power 100.

 “I am thrilled that SEC will be bringing [Cox] to Smith this spring,” said SEC Vice-Chair Catherine Bradley ’17. “I hope everyone is excited as I am to hear her share her message with the Smith community.”

Tickets for the event will go on sale in early February at the Office of Student Engagement and are free for Smith students, $5 for Five College students, $10 for Smith faculty, staff  and alums and $25 for general admission.