Topic: Speakers

February 4, 2015

Laverne Cox, Rainn Wilson to speak at Ball State
Laverne Cox ("Orange is the New Black") and Rainn Wilson ("The Office") will speak Feb. 23 and March 16, respectively, at Ball State.

Laverne Cox and Rainn Wilson — two rising members of television and movie entertainment — will visit Ball State University in the coming weeks as part of the Excellence in Leadership (EIL) Speaker Series.

Cox, a transgender advocate and actor who portrays Sophia in the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black,” presents “Ain’t I a Woman: My Journey to Womanhood” at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 23, in Emens Auditorium. Wilson, best known for his role of Dwight Schrute on “The Office,” will discuss “SoulPancake: Chew on Life’s Big Questions” at 7:30 p.m., March 16 in Emens. Both presentations are free and open to the public.

In the role of Sophia Burset, Cox is the first transgender woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream scripted television show. Time Magazine named Sophia Burset the fourth most influential fictional character of 2013. Cox is also a recipient of the Dorian Rising Star award for her work in “Orange is the New Black.”

A renowned speaker, Cox has taken her empowering message of moving beyond gender expectations to live more authentically all over the country. Her insights have been featured on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NPR, HLN, VH1, FOX News Latino as well as other national television and radio networks.

Wilson starred in “The Office,” the long running NBC Emmy that was recognized by the Screen Actors Guild Award for best comedy series. Over the years, he has earned three Emmy nominations with his portrayal of Dwight Schrute, an eccentric paper salesman whose ego knows no bounds, and fervently torments his colleagues in his own lovable, pathetic fashion.

In 2008, Wilson and two of his friends created the program SoulPancake to create a space where people from all walks of life could discuss and question what it means to be human – a place to wrestle with the spiritual, philosophical and creative journey that is life.

SoulPancake spans multiple distribution channels, from web to print to video to live events. In 2010, the SoulPancake book, “SoulPancake: Chew on Life’s Big Questions,” was released with thought-provoking messages, bold questions and mind-bending art.