Speakers and Honored Guests

Laverne Cox (Photo by Melissa Hamburg)
Laverne Cox (Photo by Melissa Hamburg)

Pitzer College’s Class of 2019 has selected award-winning transgender actress, producer and equal rights advocate Laverne Cox to keynote this year’s commencement ceremony.

Cox is a two-time Emmy-nominated actress and Emmy-winning producer best known for her work on the critically acclaimed Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. Cox is the first trans woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream scripted television show and the first openly trans person to be nominated for an Emmy in an acting category.  She is also the first trans woman of color to produce and star in her own television show, VH1’s TRANSForm Me, which was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award. Cox is the first trans woman of color to appear on an American reality television program, VH1’s I Wanna Work for Diddy, for which she accepted the GLAAD Media Award for “Outstanding Reality Program.” She also received GLAAD’s 2014 Stephen F. Kolzak Award in recognition of her work promoting LGBTQ equality.

In addition to her acting, Cox is a renowned speaker who encourages her audience to live more authentically.

Traditionally, each Pitzer graduating class selects its commencement keynote speaker. In the upcoming weeks, the members of the Class of 2019 will also select their class speaker, student marshals and special guest. Professor Brinda Sarathy, director of Pitzer’s Robert Redford Conservancy, and Dean Ulysses J. “UJ” Sofia, the Weinberg Family Dean of the W.M. Keck Science Department, will serve as this year’s faculty marshals..