For Steven Canals, the co-creator of the groundbreaking FX drama Pose, highlighting the stories of the House of Evangelista was first a selfish act. However, days before the final chapter premieres Sunday, Canals said Pose has evolved to support, represent, validate and celebrate the members of the Black, Latinx, Afro-Latinx and LGBTQ+ communities and other marginalized groups.
“It will not be and it will never be lost on me that alongside Janet Mock and Ryan Murphy, that for us this show was created by and for our community,” he said. “I hope that if nothing else, all of the folks out there who happen to be part of the LGBTQ+ community and all of those folks who happen to be Black and brown, that they always know that I and all of my collaborators and this wildly talented and beautiful cast, that we will always have your back, we will always see you, that we will always affirm you, that the work will always to be to honor you.”
During a Monday press conference, Canals joined fellow executive producer Mock and cast members Mj Rodriguez, Billy Porter, Dominique Jackson, Indya Moore, Hailie Sahar, Angel Bismark Curiel, Dyllon Burnside, Jason Rodriguez and Sandra Bernhard to delve into the final chapter of Pose.
When Pose, also co-created by Murphy and Brad Falchuk, returns for Season 3, it will take place during the mid-1990s, when ballroom feels like a distant memory for Blanca (Rodriguez), who struggles to balance being a mother with being a present partner to her new love, and her latest role as a nurse’s aide. Meanwhile, as AIDS becomes the leading cause of death for Americans ages 25-44, Pray Tell (Porter) contends with unexpected health burdens. Elsewhere, the emergence of a vicious new upstart house forces the House of Evangelista members to contend with their legacy.
Although fans were surprised to hear that the celebrated series would end with its third season, Canals said it was always his intention to close it out with its upcoming arc. From setting up the tight-knit family for their final episodes to ending with Season 3, he said “every choice was intentional.”
“The last thing I wanted to do to our audience to create narrative simply for the sake of creating narrative with no real intention,” he continued. “I could see that there was the ending and we all agreed that it just made sense for us to land the plane comfortably as opposed to continue to give an audience story that simply did not have any real core intention or any real thrust towards specificity.”
From taking on the AIDS epidemic and activism to touching on the ever-changing ballroom scene, Pose‘s Season 3 packs a punch and leaves the cast with lessons and memories they will take with them beyond the FX drama. For Rodriguez, who stars as the big-hearted, resilient Blanca Evangelista, Pose granted her the confidence to use her voice and delve into character and do so unapologetically.
Similarly, Porter, who made Emmys history in 2019, said starring as the unabashedly confident and stylish ballroom grandmaster Pray Tell was an opportunity he will leverage to drive change in the industry.
“The idea that the little Black church sissy from Pittsburgh is now in a position of power in Hollywood in a way that never existed before – you can damn sure believe that I will be wielding that power and there will be a difference and a change in how things go from here on out,” he said.
For cast members including Moore and Jackson, who play rising supermodel Angel and the no-B.S. Elektra, respectively, Pose has encouraged them to fearlessly take up more space as members of the trans community and helped them know that their identities are worth celebrating.
“I will never ever ever walk into a space thinking that I need to impress them; I need to be professional, I need to know my worth. I will never walk into a space being fearful of my identity from stopping me from anything. Because of this journey, when I walk into a spaces now, my identity is not because I am an abomination – my identity is a plus, my identity is my value,” Jackson said.
Pose was co-created by Murphy, Falchuk and Canals, who executive produce alongside Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Alexis Martin Woodall, Sherry Marsh and Mock. Our Lady J is co-executive producer. Tanase Popa is supervising producer. Lou Eyrich, Jeff Dickerson and Kip Myers also serve as producers. The seven-episode third season is produced by 20th Television, part of Disney Television Studios, and FX Productions.