Laverne Cox says her twin brother, M Lamar, is her "moral compass"
Laverne Cox’s twin brother, M Lamar, is her “moral compass,” and over the years, the actress has expressed her appreciation for him.
“There's a wonderful bond that we share and there's a tremendous amount of respect that we have for each other as artists and as human beings,” she told Windy City Times.
Reginald Lamar Cox, who goes by the stage name M Lamar, and Laverne were born on May 29, 1972. The pair grew up together in Mobile, Alabama, with their mother, Gloria Cox. Laverne has been open about her struggles with childhood bullies, harassment and suicidal thoughts, but the activist has always had the support of her family.
"I was bullied and chased home from school every day by groups of kids," she told Maria Menounos on E! News. She went on to call the experience “very shaming” and recalled wanting to express herself through her gender.
When she told her brother she was transitioning, Lamar was entirely supportive. “He was like, ‘Oh, you’re doing the medical thing. Okay, cool.’ It wasn’t an issue,” she recalled.
So who is Laverne Cox’s twin brother? From his own creative ambitions to his unwavering support of his sister, here’s everything to know about M Lamar.
They were raised by a single mom
Laverne and Lamar were born and raised in Alabama, where they lived with their mom, Gloria, and their grandmother.
“I never knew my father. He was never married to my mother, he was never a part of my life,” she told TIME. “It was just my mom, my brother and me.”
As a single parent, Gloria raised her kids to be kind and loving, telling AL.com, “There was no fighting.” An English teacher, she also raised them to value their education. “I always told them to learn as much as possible,” she said.
Gloria told the publication she was “very, very proud” of her kids. “I have two working children. They’re doing very well,” she added.
He’s an artist and a musician
Like his sister, Lamar is highly creative. When the twins were in ninth grade, they enrolled in the Alabama School of Fine Arts, a high school in Birmingham, Alabama, that offered education in endeavors such as creative writing, dance, music and theater. There, Laverne pursued theater arts while Lamar focused on visual arts. He later transferred to another high school, but he never stopped working on his craft.
After high school, Lamar went to San Francisco Art Institute, where he earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in sculpting. He then began graduate studies in sculpture at Yale University, though he left after one year. Meanwhile, Laverne graduated from Marymount Manhattan College with a degree in dance.
In an interview with Story + Rain, Laverne praised her brother’s artistic talent. “He drew and painted very realistically from an early age. He won every art competition you can win on local, state and national levels,” she recalled.
Lamar is also a singer, songwriter, pianist and composer. He has combined his many talents in his work.
Lamar has been described as a multimedia artist and his exhibits incorporate elements of film, music and performance art. He’s had exhibitions at prestigious venues such as New York City’s Participant Inc. and Museum of Modern Art and the San Francisco Art Institute, among others.
He encouraged Laverne to act
Prior to her breakout role on Orange Is the New Black, Laverne competed on Sean “Diddy” Combs’ VH1 reality show, I Want to Work for Diddy. But Lamar didn’t want her to take that route.
In a 2016 interview with both Laverne and Lamar for HuffPost, he recalled: “I remember seeing you at Marymount Manhattan College in a performance do a dance and then a monologue afterward and I thought, ‘This is what you should be doing — acting.’ You’re a brilliant actor and that’s why I thought you shouldn’t do the reality show.”
Lamar told her not to do it at the time, saying that it “just seemed like the worst idea in the world.”
He worries about her life in the spotlight
Although he encouraged her to pursue acting, he also worries about the level of fame that comes with it.
“Laverne’s a very mainstream person,” he told World of Wonder. “When she first started going in that direction, I was frightened for her and the scrutiny she would receive. A lot of the work she has done for herself, and as an actor, is about being a better human being. I love her, and I wouldn’t wish that scrutiny on her or anybody.”
He was on Orange Is the New Black
Though he isn’t primarily an actor, Lamar has appeared on screen. And while he wasn’t exactly acting alongside his sister, he appeared on Orange Is the New Black as Sophia, Laverne’s character, in her pre-transition flashback scenes.
In an interview with Windy City Times, Laverne shared how much that experience meant to her. “I love my brother so much and he’s been my moral compass over the years. I run things by him and we’re twins so we’ve literally known each other our entire lives,” she said. “So, I’m really grateful that I got to share a little bit of this show and this moment with him.”
He wants to forge his own path
Laverne liked sharing Orange Is the New Black with him, but she also understood why he had mixed feelings about it.
Speaking to Story + Rain, she explained that he had “very non-mainstream values” and mainly took the role to pay his bills.
“Part of him sort of regrets doing it because when you Google him, that’s what comes up, not his own work,” she said. “Now his own work is coming up more. He’s never been interested in being in my shadow, in being famous, in being recognized because of me.”
Still, in 2022, he joined ABC’s Claim to Fame, a reality show competition where participants attempt to conceal their celebrity relatives. After he was revealed to be Laverne’s brother and left the show, he told Newsweek that, while he wasn’t necessarily confident about his ability to keep his identity hidden, he was used to it.
“Since my sister has become mega-famous, to keep a sense of my life not only being about being related to someone mega-famous, I have routinely lied about being related to her,” he said. “So, this wasn't a new thing for me."
He and Laverne are incredibly supportive of each other
During his elimination from Claim to Fame, Lamar gave a heartfelt speech praising his sister. “I have never really spoken about her, but since she’s the reason I’m here, I want to say in front of the world, I love her so much.” he said.
“I think she’s the most extraordinary person I’ve ever met,” he continued. “She has endured all kinds of insanity, and continues to. She continues to stand with so much dignity and pride and go forward and be an inspiration for so many people. Her success is so much bigger than her.”
After the episode aired, Laverne shared an Instagram post thanking Lamar for his ongoing support. “I am an immensely blessed woman in a plethora of ways. One of the most important is that I have known my brother @lamar_m_lamar my entire life,” she wrote. “My brother’s love, support and counsel are part of the reason I am who I am.”
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