How 'Pose,' Already a Groundbreaker, Is Changing Awards Season Red Carpets, Too

Stars Billy Porter, Mj Rodriguez and Indya Moore tell The Hollywood Reporter why they aren't taking anything for granted as their FX drama racks up accolades.
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The Pose Emmy FYC panel, held Saturday at the Hollywood Athletic Club, was at least the third event during the course of the past year in which the FX drama's cast and creatives discussed the series after a screening of the same episode: "Love Is the Message."

The hour features Billy Porter's Pray Tell organizing a cabaret for the AIDS ward at the hospital where his boyfriend is a patient, and an emotional performance of the song "Home" by Porter and co-star Mj Rodriguez. The episode marks the directorial debut of activist, author and Pose writer Janet Mock, who told The Hollywood Reporter on the pink carpet beforehand that she never tires of discussing the episode.

"We knew that we were writing a memorial to all those who left us, but also all those who were left behind in this in this epidemic. And so, for me, 'Love Is the Message,' I just want everyone to see it. Of course I think it's so powerful," she said. "One of my favorite moments directing will always be the moment when Blanca sings 'Home,' and she almost can't get through. And then one of the loves of her life comes up and supports her and says that 'you can get through.' That's the DNA of our show. That's the message: that love and support and family will always get you through."

The fact that the Peabody Award-winning Pose is a genuine contender in awards conversations is, on one hand, an honor for its creative team.

"For me to be included in the conversation in terms of being a possible Emmy-nominated director is exciting. And I want it! I want it," Mock said. "It's hard to say that you want it. But yeah, I do. Because I know it's important, and I think that it's also a great affirmation to say that, industry-wide, we should give people a chance, we should equip them, we should train them, we should let them be at the helm of telling their own stories. I think that powerful content and impactful storytelling can come from that."

On the other hand, it's been a busy experience for everyone on the show — including TV's largest-ever cast of trans actors with Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, Hailie Sahar and Angelica Ross — who began filming season two (bowing June 11 on FX) just after their PaleyFest panel in March (at which, yes, "Love Is the Message" was also screened). Porter, already a Tony and Grammy winner, is having fun, he said — but has been quite busy over the past few months. (He is the only actor on the show whose work was singled out for a Golden Globe nomination, in addition to the show's drama series nom.)

"There's so much talk, chit chat and talking about it and pre- this and for your consideration that and, you know, I'm glad I'm 50. I'm glad I've been in the business for 30 years. I'm glad I can just enjoy it without feeling any pressure," he said. "It's fucking crazy. I've been everything, everywhere: all the roundtables and the photo shoots. It's like, 'Oh, I hope I get the nomination, y'all.' 'Cause there's been a whole lot of talking about it!"

Rodriguez told THR she even re-watched the episode the night before the panel because "it's something that's changing the world."

To wit: the tip sheet for the event, featuring headshots and titles for each person walking the carpet, also featured everyone's preferred pronouns — something rarely, if ever, seen before. Moore — whose preferred pronouns are they/them — told THR that act is just one step in making people of all gender experiences more comfortable.

"Trans and gender-variant people, our gender identities aren't visible. And I think it's really important for us to have a system where people just ask, as opposed to making assumptions, because it's respectful. And it creates space for the existence of people's gender experiences that aren't singular and binary and male and female," they said. "So I think it's genius. And it's incredible that a show like Pose has shifted culture in such an incredible way. I'm so excited to see the Emmys coming and for our show to win some awards."

 

 

Whether or not Pose takes home an Emmy statue in September, however, Moore is proud of the work the cast has pulled off.

"I don't want to depend on the opinions and the perception of cis hetero people to decide whether or not us, as queer and trans performers, are deserving of a reward," they said. "We've seen the performances. We will never see a cis hetero person pull off what we've seen on Pose. It's impossible. So whether or not Pose wins anything, Pose has won everything."

Following the screening, co-creator Ryan Murphy moderated an hourlong panel with creator Steven Canals, Porter, Rodriguez, Moore, Jackson, Mock, and writer Our Lady J, where they discussed their experiences working on the first season, auditioning and even Porter's powerful Oscars fashion moment. A party at the nightclub Boulevard3 — with buffet, drinks and a dance performance (category is: wildlife) — followed.