Movies like to think they're on top of the media kingdom, but now television has some lessons to teach the film industry. Thursday morning, Orange Is the New Black's Laverne Cox became the first transgender Emmy nominee. The OITNB star nabbed an Outstanding Guest Actress nomination for her work as Sophia Burset, and it's very important because in the past, actors and actresses have been nominated for their work playing a transgender man or woman, but never before was the person nominated actually trans off-screen, as well.
So yeah, the Emmys might have snubbed a few women overall, but this is one area I'm pretty proud of them for. Goodness knows the movie industry hasn't even come close to a similar level of equality. Earlier this year, Jared Leto took home numerous awards for playing a transgender woman in Dallas Buyers Club. He even nabbed the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. But his casting and eventual wins disappointed a lot of people, especially when he neglected to mention the transgender community in his Golden Globes acceptance speech.
Here it is, 2014, and cisgender actors are still playing the roles of transgender individuals in movies. Not only playing, but getting tremendous accolades for the parts. No disrespect to Jared Leto or his acting skills, but you could practically hear the Academy's thoughts when they selected him. Oh, what a challenging role for Leto. He stepped so outside his comfort zone. Blah, blah, blah.
While the movie industry is still several steps behind, the television world is catching up. Nominating Cox is a huge first step to giving transgender people the recognition they deserve. It shouldn't have to be such a big deal for the awards to be inclusive, but we live in a world where transgender people are still marginalized, so recognition on this level is a big deal.
Cox once lamented that casting cisgender actors in trans roles probably wasn't going to change any time soon. She told Bustle's Kelsea Stahler, “It’s about business and we are in, as bell hooks calls it, Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy, so that market forces can’t be dismissed when casting decisions are made." But with her nomination, it seems things could finally be changing for the better.
Hopefully TV will continue to lead in this arena and the movie industry will follow. Otherwise, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw more movie stars make the leap to television, since that's where advancements are being made.