Clockwise from top left: Angelica Ross, Billy Porter, Dominique Jackson, Dyllon Burnside, Hailie Sahar, Indya Moore, MJ Rodriguez, Ryan Jamaal Swain.
Ryan Murphy’s new FX show Pose will make television history with the largest cast of transgender actors ever to appear as series regulars on a scripted series, the network announced this afternoon. This comes after a six-month nationwide search headed up by casting director Alexa Fogel (Atlanta), with further casting to be announced soon.
Murphy co-created Pose with his frequent collaborator Brad Falchuk (American Crime Story, American Horror Story) and screenwriter Steven Canals (Afuera). Per FX, the ‘80s-set drama “looks at the juxtaposition of several segments of life and society in New York: the rise of the luxury Trump-era universe, the downtown social and literary scene, and the ball culture world,” an LGBTQ+ subculture in which people perform competitively at events known as balls.
Pose’s record-setting cast will include five transgender regulars, all of whom will be playing authentic transgender characters. From FX’s announcement:
MJ Rodriguez (Blanca) is a theater and film actress who has appeared on Nurse Jackie, The Carrie Diaries, Luke Cage and was recently featured with Indya Moore (Angel) in Saturday Church at the Tribeca Film Festival. Dominique Jackson (Elektra) is a fashion model and icon in the current New York ball scene. Hailie Sahar (Lulu) has been seen on Mr. Robot and Transparent. Angelica Ross (Candy) was recently on Transparent as well as on several episodes of Claws.
Additional casting for the series includes Ryan Jamaal Swain (Damon), who recently filmed God’s Rock. Billy Porter (Pray Tell) is currently reprising his Tony award-winning role as “Lola” in Kinky Boots on Broadway. Dyllon Burnside (Ricky) was seen in Holler If Ya Hear Me on Broadway.
“We are thrilled that Pose pushes the narrative forward by centering on the unique and under-told experiences of trans women and gay people of color,” said co-creator Canals in a statement. “Ryan has assembled a strong team of storytellers and innovators to collaborate on telling this important narrative. As a Bronx-bred queer writer of color, I’m honored to aid in ushering this groundbreaking show into homes.”
Canals has been scripting the series alongside Our Lady J (Transparent), and transgender rights activist and best-selling author Janet Mock. The writers have worked with ball culture consultants Michael Roberson and Twiggy Pucci Garçon to ensure that the show’s stories are authentic to the subculture, as well as to populate Pose with figures from within the actual New York ball community. Hector Xtravaganza, Skylar King and Sol Williams, who were active in the ‘80s ball culture world, will also serve as consultants, and renowned choreographers Leiomy Maldonado (aka the “Wonder Woman of Vogue”) and Danielle Polanco (who has worked with Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce Knowles-Carter) will handle the series’ ball scenes.
Murphy and company’s commitment to trans representation and inclusivity extends to the other side of the camera, as well. Trans activist director Silas Howard will serve as a co-executive producer on Pose, and in conjunction with Murphy’s Half Initiative, the show will bring on emerging transgender directors to be mentored through Murphy’s Directing Mentorship Program.
Pose’s pilot goes into production in New York City next month.