Why Season 4 of ‘Orange is the New Black’ is so important to Laverne Cox

Solitary confinement proves difficult for Sophia in Season 4 of ‘Orange is the New Black.’
Image: netflix

WARNING: This story contains spoilers aboutOrange is the New Black Season 4.

Laverne Cox may not have had a lot of screen time in Orange Is the New Black‘s fourth season, but her storyline was anything but insignificant.

When viewers last saw Cox’s Sophia at the end of Season 3, she was was sent tothe SHU (Security Housing Unit) after she was attacked by a group of inmates. At the time, the prison’s top man, Caputo (Nick Sandow), said she was being put insolitary confinement for her own safety.

In Season 4, her safety is more in question than ever, as she struggles with the mental pressures of isolation. She loses track of days and her spirit is broken. At one point, she even tries to commit suicide.

For Cox, knowing that long-term solitary confinement is often a reality for transgender inmates made telling the story an issue of vast importance.

Sophia after being attacked in Season 3 of ‘Orange is the New Black.’

Image: Netflix

It’s art, so it’s really about choices and there’s no such thing as right, but I wanted to honor the truth of the stories that we told,” Cox told Mashable back in January, shortly after she’d wrapped filming on the new season.

“The hardest thing [about filming] was knowing that this was real and there was a responsibility that was bigger than me. I feel like it is often for me and my career, when I’m able to connect with something that’s greater than me, that is when I’m operating at my best because it’s not really about me, it’s about something that’s bigger than me,” she added. “So that’s the hardest part but it’s also the gift.”

As Sophia’s story progresses in the new season, it’s her wife Crystal (Tanya Wright) who keeps on Caputo on his toes, demanding to know more about Sophia’s whereabouts and condition, despite MMC’s (theprivate company that now controls Litchfield) attempts to block her from getting information.

Sophia’s wife Crystal visits her in Season 3.

Image: Netflix

Her tireless efforts with help from some of the ladies in Litchfield eventually pay off, but leave you wondering what could have happened had Sophia not had an advocate on the outside, as many transgender inmates don’t.

Wright says tackling trans issues on the show leaves her feeling not pressure but immense gratitude.

“I jumped at the chance toplay this role [because] I thought it was an extraordinary story, andwhen we first did this,several years ago now, no one was talking about these issues in quite the same way,and lo and behold five years later this conversation has become part of ourmainstream society,”Wright told Mashable on Friday at an Orange event hosted by the Womens Prison Association. “Im very excited about that, very excited about the workLaverne has done in the world on behalf of transgender issues, and very excited totell this story alongside her.”

Orange is the New Black Season 4 is now streaming on Netflix.

With reporting from Proma Khosla

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Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/06/19/orange-is-the-new-black-season-4-sophia/