SPOILERS AHEAD FOR SEASON 2:
Filming Season 2 of “Pose” was an extremely emotional experience for Angelica Ross. As the spitfire Candy Ferocity, Ross had to say goodbye to the series as her character was murdered, a fate that has disproportionately befallen many trans women of color in the late ’80s and early ’90s when the show takes place and even continues to this day. Episode 4 centered on Candy’s funeral where she appeared as a ghost to key figures in her life. While Ross had a strong year of appreciation from fans and in the media for her roles in both “Pose” and “American Horror Story: 1984,” it has been a bittersweet roller coaster ride for her nonetheless. “I would hope to feel only nothing but joy and gratitude around having this opportunity but at the same time, playing Candy Ferocity, I’m telling a story that is placed in the late ‘80s but still rings very true to today,” Ross says in an exclusive interview with Gold Derby. Watch the full video chat above.
While Ross knew what was coming for Candy heading into Season 2 of “Pose,” she found it very difficult to even open the script for “Never Knew Love Like This Before,” the fateful fourth episode of the season. “I was in a lot of shock and I could not stop crying,” she reveals. “I was worried that as I read it more, that I would get emotionally dry, that all the emotion would be gone by the time I would go film it. So I refused to rehearse any of that episode.” In the episode, we see Candy in a Madonna-inspired outfit in the ballroom sparring with Pray Tell (Billy Porter) in a scene that would be Ross’ last when Candy was alive. “I knew at this point, she was not going to be getting her flowers while she was alive,” Ross recalls. “That’s why it was really important for me to imagine for Candy and to imagine for all of the trans girls out there who have lost their lives that they are finally getting their flowers.”
The news of Candy’s death hit Ross hard but the actress would soon learn that was wanted on another Ryan Murphy series, “American Horror Story.” She had a starring role as Nurse Rita / Donna Chambers on “American Horror Story: 1984,” making history as the first trans actress to score two series regular roles. Working with actors like Emma Roberts and Leslie Grossman who had established strong careers in the industry made “AHS” a learning experience for Ross. “I immediately went into student mode,” she states. “I became a sponge, like I do on many environments, and even when I wasn’t filming, I was lurking around, watching the monitor, just paying attention and I learned so much from every single person on ‘American Horror Story.'”
Ross will be in the next season of “American Horror Story” and while she still believes Hollywood still has a long way to go in hiring trans talent, she thinks Hollywood is starting to learn. “What is most inspiring about this moment is the shift in power,” Ross notes. “When you hire trans actors and trans directors and trans writers, you give that creator ability to not only create more without the financial stresses but as creators, what we do is there comes a time when the student teaches, when the artist teaches, when you share space and give back.”
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