Ryan Murphy Makes History With Largest Cast of Transgender Actors for FX's 'Pose'

The pilot will feature five transgender actors in series regular roles — a scripted TV record.
Courtesy of FX
Clockwise from top left: MJ Rodriguez, Hailie Sahar, Dyllon Burnside, Indya Moore, Ryan Jamaal Swain, Angelica Ross, Dominique Jackson, Billy Porter

Ryan Murphy and FX are making TV history with Pose, the 1980s-set drama pilot produced by the Feud and American Horror Story showrunner.

Following a six-month nationwide casting search, the project has cast five transgender actors in series regular roles. With the casting, Pose is making history with the largest number of transgender actors in series regular roles for a scripted series.

The drama looks at the juxtaposition of several segments of life and society in 1980s New York: the rise of the luxury Trump-era universe, the downtown social and literary scene and the ball culture world. 

Among the history-making actors, MJ Rodriguez (who will play Blanca) is a theater and film actress who has appeared on Nurse Jackie, The Carrie Diaries and Luke Cage, and was recently featured with Indya Moore (who will play Angel) in Saturday Church at the Tribeca Film Festival. Dominique Jackson (who will play Elektra) is a fashion model and icon in the current New York ball scene. Hailie Sahar (who will play Lulu) has been seen on Mr. Robot and Transparent. And Angelica Ross (who will play Candy) was recently on Transparent as well as several episodes of Claws. Each of them will be playing authentic transgender characters.

Additional casting for the series includes Ryan Jamaal Swain (as Damon), who recently filmed God’s Rock. Billy Porter (as Pray Tell) is currently reprising his Tony-winning role as Lola in Kinky Boots on Broadway. Dyllon Burnside (as Ricky) was seen in Holler If Ya Hear Me on Broadway. Further casting will be announced soon. Casting director Alexa Fogel (Atlanta) led the six-month nationwide casting search.

Murphy co-created the show with frequent collaborator Brad Falchuk (Glee, American Horror Story) and Steven Canals. Murphy’s American Crime Story collaborators Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson (The People v. O.J. Simpson and the upcoming The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story) as well as Alexis Martin Woodall (The Normal Heart, Feud, American Horror Story) and Sherry Marsh (Vikings) will executive produce the Fox 21 Television Studios and FX Productions co-production.

Canals has been writing scripts for the series with Our Lady J (Transparent) as well as with transgender rights activist and New York Times best-selling author Janet Mock. The writers have also brought on ball culture consultants Michael Roberson and Twiggy Pucci Garçon to assist in populating the potential series with people from within the New York ball community, as well as to help develop authentic ball world stories. Hector Xtravaganza, Skylar King and Sol Williams — participants in the ball culture world of the 1980s — will also serve as consultants on Pose. Trans activist director Silas Howard will co-exec produce.

Leiomy Maldonado (known as the "Wonder Woman of Vogue") and Danielle Polanco (who has worked with Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce Knowles-Carter) will be choreographing Pose's ball scenes.

In conjunction with Murphy’s Half Initiative, Pose will be bringing on emerging transgender directors to be mentored through the prolific showrunner's Directing Mentorship Program.

"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 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."

Production on Pose is set to begin next month in New York. 

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