Pose explores a very specific cultural movement that doesn't always get its due in film and television, though its impact has been lasting in pop culture. Set in 1987, Pose focuses primarily on ball culture in New York: a competition that combined dance with fashion, it gave LGBTQ people a place to celebrate and express themselves. But what's particularly groundbreaking about the show is that its cast is as diverse as its characters. You're going to want to meet the five transgender cast members on Pose making TV history.
It's unfortunately common in film and on television for trans characters to be played by cisgender actors, which robs the community of needed representation. Pose is not one of those projects, however. It has the largest cast of regular trans actors ever, plus the most LGBTQ characters on television. It is similarly forward-thinking behind the scenes as well; the producers, writers, consultants, and directors all have a part in the community that is being depicted onscreen. Not only does that grant the show a greater sense of authenticity, but it provides opportunities to people who have long been denied them.
Without further ado, here are the five transgender cast members making Pose a frontrunner in terms of representation.
MJ Rodriguez is a theater actress known for playing Angel in an Off-Broadway production of Rent, for which she won the Clive Barnes Award. Rodriguez told Playbill that the part was a dream come true, saying, "It wasn't like being a character. I was in character, of course, but I was also living me and telling my story through Angel."
Her career in the theater continued after that (she even landed an audition for Peggy/Maria in Hamilton), but she also has quite a few TV credits to her name. You may have seen Rodriguez in Nurse Jackie, The Carrie Diaries, and Luke Cage.
Indya Moore is a model from New York who has walked in Fashion Week and appeared in the music video for "Don't Pull Away" by J. Views (ft. Milosh). She appeared in the film Saturday Church and the short Spot, but Pose will be her television debut. In an interview with Afropunk, Moore also mentioned working on a show called Mistranslated with her writing partner Giselle Bleuz. If all goes well with Pose, you might be seeing a lot more of Moore onscreen.
Pose will be model Dominique Jackson's first major acting role, though she has appeared in the reality show Strut and shared her personal experiences in the documentary My Truth, My Story. She discussed her difficult upbringing, as well as moving to New York from Tobago, where she was born; she also penned the memoir The Transsexual From Tobago to tell her story.
Representation is important to Jackson, who told Guardian in 2015, "Dismantling stereotypes is paramount to progress and young and old should attempt to play a part." It seems like Pose may contribute to that, too.
Hailie Sahar is an actress who has appeared on television in Transparent and Mr. Robot, in the film Leave It On The Floor, and on stage in the Off-Broadway show Charm. She also branched out into music with the release of the video "California Dreams." According to her website, she hopes that "her music showcases empowerment, creativity, and overall artistic visions of her expressions."
Angelica Ross is an actress and trans rights advocate, as well as the founder and CEO of TransTech Social Enterprises. The program "helps people lift themselves out of poverty through technical training, digital work creating a social impact and bringing economic empowerment to marginalized communities," according to Ross' website. When it comes to acting, Ross has appeared in a few shorts and TV shows, including Her Story, Claws, and Transparent.
Pose tells a story that deserves to be told, with a cast and crew who have been more than up for the job. While these five women are not the only LGBTQ folks responsible for this history-making show, they are certainly paving the way for more trans visibility in popular culture and the world at large.
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