Category is: PaleyFest groundbreaking television realness! On Saturday night the cast and creators of FX’s critically acclaimed series Pose slayed the stage and received 10s across the board (literally with signs in the audience) for their sickening looks but also top marks for their wildly insightful conversation about the show and some juicy details about season 2 — including an icon who is set to join the cast as a guest star.
After screening episode six of the first season titled “Love is the Message”, co-creator Ryan Murphy, who served as moderator, told Pose star Mj Rodriguez, a hardcore Broadway fan, that she shares a lot of scenes with a new addition to the cast this season: the one and only Patti LuPone. Rodriguez was gagged and Murphy also told Billy Porter, who is no stranger to Broadway, that he would also be sharing plenty of scenes with the legend. No details were given about her character — but she will be joining for the sophomore season. He also revealed that there will be a time jump from season one. It will go from the ’80s to 1990. Specifically, the first episode will take place the day that Madonna’s “Vogue” was released — which is very appropriate for the show about the ball and vogueing culture of New York in the ’80s and ’90s.
Murphy, Rodriguez and Porter were joined on the stage by co-creator and producer Steven Canals, producer Our Lady J, writer and director of the aforementioned episode Janet Mock as well cast members Dominique Jackson and Indya Moore. They talked about the episode and how the show that opened the doors to trans actors, making it the largest cast of trans actors in series regular roles ever for a scripted series.
“We spent six months casting the show,” said Murphy. “We made it open to everybody in the world – everyone who can audition could audition. Mj had auditioned several times. As soon as she read, that was it.”
“You finally gave me something where my identity matched my career choices,” Rodriguez told Murphy.
But the road to casting was a long one as Canals had a difficult time getting the show in front of someone who would make it. He said that when he pitched the show there were a lot of no’s and that there was a lot of “coded” language behind the rejection. People said it was “too urban” and “too niche” until Murphy got a hold of it….and the rest was history.
Murphy opening the door to give these talented actors an opportunity for authentic representation is very much shown in this episode directed by Mock. This marked her directorial debut. Murphy says that many critics say the episode, which focuses on HIV and AIDS during the era, was one of the best hour of television that they have seen.
“I’ve never seen someone like me helming an episode of television,” said Mock. “I was really doubtful and didn’t have the experience.”
She turned to Murphy and said, “You ally ooped me that enabled me to slam dunk.”
The series goes beyond giving trans actors roles in a TV show. It’s an opportunity for the actors and writers to share their narrative and journey through a show set in a different time. Moore talked about how she has been pushed out of spaces because who she was and Porter notes he’s encountered homophobia, terror and rejection. He adds that Carnegie Mellon taught actors to be authentic except for gay men who were told to change. Jackson also shared her journey as an illegal immigrant and also talked about how her character Elektra (who she jokingly said is not a villain) is the way she is because it is a form of dominance to protect ourselves. With Mock and Our Lady J (who also shared an amazing story about the day she found out she was HIV+) behind the camera and this amazing cast in front, Pose has been a template for authentic inclusivity on television. Murphy points out that gay and trans people don’t have written history and Pose contributes to the untold history much like The Normal Heart, which he directed. He said that these contributions is beautiful and shows that we do and can remember.
Murphy announced that Mock, Porter and Our Lady J will direct episodes in the upcoming season. He said that they will start shooting the new season next week and it is set to premiere in June. “It’s a first in so many ways and broken so many rules,” he said. “It’s extraordinary…it’s getting bigger and bigger.”