It what could be another milestone role in broadcast TV diversity, CBS has cast transgender actress Laverne Cox in its legal procedural pilot Doubt.
The Orange is the New Black actress will play a transgender Ivy League-educated attorney, described as “competitive as she is compassionate. She’s fierce, funny and the fact that she’s experienced injustice first hand makes her fight all the harder for her clients.”
The Doubt role was always conceived as a transgender character, and it’s tough to imagine a better catch for the part — Cox made the cover of Time magazine last year in a story about the transgender movement. While there have been plenty of transgender characters on broadcast TV shows in the past, they are often short-term parts or comedic roles.
The castings comes as shows with diverse leads are topping the Nielsen ratings. This season the most successful new drama in the adults 18-49 demo is Fox’s hip-hop melodrama Empire, with ABC’s legal soap How to Get Away with Murder also a hit. The highest-rated new comedy series if ABC’s Black-ish. The push for diversity is impacting pilot season, too, with ABC confirming yesterday that its reboot of the 1989 film Uncle Buck will feature an all-black cast. For more on pilot season, check our full list of pilots and their casts.