Meet the gay man and transgender woman who “Want to Work for Diddy”

Rob Smith and Laverne Cox want to work for Diddy

If I were to tell you that when one of the biggest hip-hop stars in the world conducted an exhaustive search to
find 13 candidates to be his next assistant, the final candidates included a gay
man and a transgender woman, what would you say?

On one hand, you may be surprised that the
somewhat homophobic hip-hop world was so inclusive of LGBT contenders for the
position, but if you were the gay in question, you’d probably start jumping up
and down and screaming!

That is exactly
what I did when I found out I was one of 13 finalists picked to compete in the
new reality show I Want to Work for Diddy, premiering on Monday, August
4 at 9PM on VH1.  Fortunately
(or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), the show leads into the
mess that is New York Goes to Hollywood, so my Mondays will be pretty
full from now on.

My name is Rob
Smith
, and I’m a freelance writer, blogger, and media industry professional
based in New York City. The experience on the show was one of the most challenging and amazing experiences
I’ve ever had, and I’m thrilled to be giving AfterElton.com readers an exclusive weekly recap and lowdown on my experience with the show and everything
that went on behind the scenes during taping.

Like they say here, visibility matters, and for both myself and my
transgender competitor Laverne Cox, I know that it was very important that we
represented who we were openly from the very beginning. But let’s not get too serious. We‘re all aware of how absurd reality
television is, and I plan on both injecting a little humor into these recaps
and taking every opportunity available to laugh with and at everyone onscreen,
not least of all myself.

There are brief
bios of both myself and Laverne as well as a clip of the show on the next page, but if you want to really get to
know us and the other 11 competitors, check out the I Want to Work
for Diddy
casting special that will air on VH1 tonight at 9PM. And of course check back next week for the first recap!

Me (Rob Smith)

What
is there to say about me? My name is Rob
Smith, and I hail from the small city of Akron, Ohio.  After graduating from high school back in 1999,
I entered the U.S. Army as a way to pay for college, and ended up serving for 4
½ years. During that time, I was
deployed to Kuwait and Iraq, and was
forced to keep my sexuality a secret due to the military’s idiotic “Don’t Ask,
Don’t Tell” policy that will (hopefully) be scrapped within the next few years. After exiting the Army and the closet, I moved all the way across the country to attend Syracuse University and study advertising and communications.

While
at SU, I became very involved in Greek life, and subsequently became the first
openly gay president in the history of my fraternity chapter.  After graduating summa cum laude from SU this
past May, I moved to NYC, and am now pursuing careers in writing and television
hosting while also working as a media buyer for a top agency in Manhattan.  In the middle of all this, I’m currently working
on my memoirs from my time spent in the Army.  If you want to drop a line or read some of my stuff,
feel free to visit my blog
or myspace page.

Laverne
Cox

A Mobile, Alabama
native, Cox started her serious dance training in high school at the Alabama School
of Fine Arts in Birmingham. 
She moved to New York City to study at Marymount Manhattan College
where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance.  There,
Laverne also became interested in acting, music and gender theory.  Laverne continued her acting training at
Black Nexxus Studios with world renowned acting coach Susan Batson where during
her studies she was called on by Ms. Batson to teach.

As an actress Laverne Cox recently had a guest starring
role on Law and Order: SVU, and has also acted in various independent films
including the award-winning The Kings of Brooklyn and Daughter of
Arabia
.  She will soon be featured in a
campaign for the Swiss skin care line I Am, and has also appeared at
performance venues all over New York City as an
actress, dancer and emcee, including Radio
City Music
Hall, P.S. 122, and Lucky Chengs.   

Laverne has also been a
rotating host of the local NYC monthly cable show Out at the Center since
2006. Laverne has recently added
producer to her credits with her work on the highly anticipated docu-series
t
Laverne can be found at her official site and
her myspace page.

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