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 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.