After breaking new ground with its large cast of LGBTQ actors, FX’s “Pose” shattered the Emmy glass ceiling with six nominations, including Best Drama Series. Gold Derby recently spoke with several of the show’s contenders, including Best Drama Actor nominee Billy Porter, co-creator Steven Canals and producer-director Janet Mock, as well as star MJ Rodriguez. Scroll down and click on their names below to be taken to their full interviews.
Porter, who also received Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice nominations for the show, plays Pray Tell, a spirited emcee on the LGBTQ ball scene in 1980s New York City. Though the work is more important than the awards for him, he still recognizes their importance, especially for a show that has broken so much ground in terms of representation. “Mainstream recognition matters for us specifically because it allows for larger groups of people to figure out, understand, and know who we are,” he explains. “That helps us to be in a position to continually keep telling these kinds of stories.” A Tony and Grammy winner for “Kinky Boots,” Porter could soon join the EGOT circle if he takes the Emmy and lands an Oscar-worthy film project in the near future.
Canals, who co-created “Pose” with Emmy favorite Ryan Murphy, reveals he “wanted to affirm LGBTQ people’s lives” with the show. He believes “it is critically important to remind everyone… you are still a part of this incredible community. And you are deserving of love and joy.” That meant it had to be cast “authentically” both in front of and behind the camera. With five trans women of color in the main ensemble, “Pose” has the largest cast of transgender performers on television, while trans writers Janet Mock and Our Lady J bring their experiences to the scripts. “Everyone brings their full self to ‘Pose,’” he adds. “Everyone is so willing to open up their hearts to this narrative.”
That diversity push extended to the people calling “Action!” as well. Mock, a trans woman of color, serves as a producer on the series and directed the first season episode “Love is the Message,” as well as the second season installments “Butterfly/Cocoon” and “In My Heels.” One of the things she appreciates so much about “Pose” is “the fact that we portray so many LGBT characters and we center them in their own world,” showing them as heroes as well as villains, saviors as well as sufferers, joyous as well as sad. And she adds, “The fact that behind the scenes that I get to be such a architectural part of building this beautiful house and this beautiful family … is really astounding.”
Rodriguez, who plays Blanca, a trans woman with HIV/AIDS, is likewise thrilled by the show’s wide appeal. While queer viewers obviously resonate with the stories, it’s important that those outside of the community come away with a deeper understanding of people with different life experiences. “We’re on the same plane as anybody else,” she divulges. Blanca’s identity “is not just about being trans, it’s about the work we had to do because we were trans.” She hopes that viewers “can always see humans first, before any title.”
Click on any name below to be taken to their full interview:
Billy Porter, who plays Pray Tell
Steven Canals, co-creator
Janet Mock, producer/director
MJ Rodriguez, who plays Blanca Rodriguez
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