The five transgender actors were cast after a six-month nationwide search led by casting director Alexa Fogel. They are MJ Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, Hailie Sahar, and Angelica Ross. All will be playing transgender characters. Also cast in the series are Ryan Jamaal Swain, Billy Porter and Dyllon Burnside.
Set in the 1980s, Pose 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. Murphy co-created the show with Brad Falchuk and Steven Canals. The two executive produce alongside Murphy’s American Crime Story collaborators Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson as well as Alexis Martin Woodall and Sherry Marsh for Fox 21 Television Studios and FX Productions. Trans activist director Silas Howard will serve as co-executive producer.
MJ Rodriguez, who plays 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 fixture 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.
Of the additional cast, Ryan Jamaal Swain (Damon) recently filmed God’s Rock. Billy Porter (Pray Tell) is 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.
Co-creator Steven Canals has been writing scripts for the series with Our Lady J (Transparent) as well as with transgender rights activist and bestselling author Janet Mock. The writers have also brought on ball culture consultants Michael Roberson and Twiggy Pucci Garçon to help populate the series with people from within the New York ball community, as well as to help develop authentic ball world stories to be featured in the show. Hector Xtravaganza, Skylar King and Sol Williams — participants in the ball culture world of the 1980s — will also serve as Pose consultants.
In conjunction with Ryan Murphy’s Half Initiative, the series will be bringing on emerging transgender directors to be mentored through his Directing Mentorship Program. Leiomy Maldonado (known as the “Wonder Woman of Vogue”) and Danielle Polanco will be choreographing the series’ ball scenes. Polanco has choreographed for Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter.
“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,” says Canals. “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.”
The pilot of Pose goes into production in November in New York City.
Porter is repped by Industry Entertainment and Felker Toczek. Sahar is repped by Pantheon and CW Management.