While the Emmy’s have hardly ever been a political statement, they are about to become one this year. The nominations for the 2014 Emmy’s came out earlier today and though the list contained no surprises, it did make history for LGBTQ activists. The list contained many openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer actors (as it has in past years), but it was the first time that a transgendered person has received an Emmy nomination. Laverne Cox, an actress on the hit television series Orange is the New Black was thrilled to not only be recognized for her talent but also to further her cause of creating transgender awareness.
Orange is the New Black, a NetFlix original series created by former Weeds director Jenji Kohan has been making history since it first aired. Not only was it the first NetFlix original series to be nominated for an Emmy, but the content of the show itself was groundbreaking. The show is based on the true life story of Piper Kerman, an Upper East Side and privileged New Yorker who is sent to women’s prison. Piper, played by Taylor Schilling on the show, has difficulty adjusting to prison life obviously but the genius of the show is the way the audience gets to know the other inmates. Excellently cast, Laverne Cox, plays one of the many prison inmates who has a complicated past. On the show her character is in prison for committing fraud in order to pay for her sex change operation.
On a heartbreaking episode of the show, the audience watches her transformation from a male police offer with a wife and child to a desperate transgendered female. The talks with her wife and child are all understanding and supportive, and were instrumental in opening up avenues of conversation for all LGBTQ activists everywhere. The 2014 Emmy nomination only furthers the making of history for these LGTBQ activists.
The most surprising aspect of the casting was not even the choice to employ an actual transgendered female but to also normalize it within the plot structure of the show. With original and brilliant content, the show itself has racked up twelve Emmy nominations for being an Outstanding Comedy series even though the plotlines themselves are almost tragic. Kohan once again applies her delicate brush to blur the lines between tragedy and comedy as the audience begin to at once pity and empathize with her fully fleshed out female characters.
Perhaps because the audience so empathizes with the character there has been hardly any outrage over the choice of casting Laverne Cox. So far, only positive feedback on the nomination, the character, and the actor have been top news stories. Any negative press has been beaten down by the popularity and talent Cox posseses. Not only is she topping lists of the most gorgeous women on television but she is taking an active stance in the LGBTQ community. Going on talk shows, giving interviews and making appearances at Pride events, Cox has garnered a huge following. She is frequently cited as an influence and inspiration for younger transgendered children. She also is out there educating people everywhere about what it means to be transgendered. The nomination she has received for the 2014 Emmy are truly making history for LGTBQ activists.
By Sindhu Reddy