Guest actress, comedy series - Laverne Cox, Orange Is the New Black
Netflix
By Aleksandra Gjorgievska and Lily Rothman
July 10, 2014

UPDATED: 4:00 p.m.

Laverne Cox has become the first transgender person nominated for an Emmy award.

Cox has been nominated in the “Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series” category for her role as Sophia Burset—an inmate who committed fraud in an attempt to pay for a sex change procedure—in the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. Cox tweeted her congratulations to fellow cast members on their nominations—OITNB raked up 12 Emmy nods this year, the most out of any comedy show.

Congrats to everyone at @oitnb on our #EmmyNoms today. So proud to be working with all of you on such a groundbreaking show. #oitnb

— Laverne Cox (@Lavernecox) July 10, 2014

GLAAD, an NGO that fights discrimination against the LGBTQ community in the media, noted that Cox repeatedly “breaks barriers” in her advancement of the LGBTQ cause. In addition to being the first openly transgender individual nominated for an Emmy in an acting category, last month she also became the first transgender person to appear on the cover of TIME.

“Today, countless transgender youth will hear the message that they can be who they are and still achieve their dreams – nothing is out of reach,” GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in the statement. “Laverne’s success on a hit series is a clear indication that audiences are ready for more trans characters on television.”

GLAAD also noted that this year’s list of nominations is among the most LGBT-inclusive in the history of the Emmys. Nominees include openly gay actors and actresses such as Jim Parsons, Kate McKinnon, Sarah Paulson and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. TV shows featuring LGBT characters and plotlines—such as Orange Is the New Black, Game of Thrones and Modern Family—also had a strong showing.

UPDATE: Cox caught up with TIME to discuss what it’s like to have achieved such a milestone. “I was told many times that I wouldn’t be able to have a mainstream career as an actor because I’m trans, because I’m black, and here I am,” she said. “And it feels really good.” (Nor was she the only one happy about it: “My phone is exploding with love!”)

Explaining why an Emmy nomination is a victory not only as an actress, but also as an activist, here’s what she had to say:

Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com.

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