At The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard‘s inaugural Pride Summit, the stars of Pose said they want their audience to love, be unconditional and de-program.
“It’s time to start unlearning the scripts that were passed down to us,” said Angel Bismark Curiel, who plays Papi on the FX show.
Bismark Curiel, who joined fellow Pose stars Indya Moore, Mj Rodriguez, Hailie Sahar and Dyllón Burnside for the the panel, titled “Televised Revolution: The Beings of Pose,“ shared that issues like colorism, transphobia and more have been passed down from previous generations.
During the panel, moderated by Kiss & Tell Networks’ Jayce Baron, the cast discussed the popularity of LGBTQ+ stories in the media, portraying HIV in the FX show and more.
Though TV and film titles have continued to share stories highlighting the LGBTQ+ experience, Bismark Curiel said writing the stories isn’t enough if they’re not coming from or being portrayed from an authentic place.
“It’s not enough. … You have to make sure that the people who are putting it out there are living with those experiences,” he said.
Sahar, who plays Lulu, said she equates this type of casting to blackface.
Moore, who plays Angel on the series and identifies as non-binary, commented on a straight, cis-gendered actress and the actress’ desire to play transgender characters and people of color. While they didn’t name a specific actress, many in attendance presumed that Moore was referring to Scarlett Johansson, who pulled out of the film Rub & Tug, in which she had been cast to play a trans man, real-life figure Dante Tex Gill, after backlash.
“Why would you play a role you don’t care about?” they asked. “Or do you just want to expand and stretch and show people you can act?”
Moore also called out Johansson’s response to the backlash, in which she was quoted as saying: “You know, as an actor I should be able to play any person, or any tree, or any animal, because that’s my job and the requirements of my job.”
Rodriguez also said while seeing members of the LGBTQ+ community onscreen makes for better representation and validates the talents of its members, it’s only possible when people in writers rooms know what it’s like to experience such marginalization.
“We need to be in the forefront and in the background as well,” Rodriguez said. “It can’t just work one way.”
On portraying HIV in the show, Rodriguez said that it’s imperative to showcase the history of the disease and the people it impacted most: black members of the LGBTQ+ community. She said that given its stigma, the story of HIV has to be told.
“It’s truth, it’s statistics,” she said. “There’s still a stigma held around that, and that’s why people don’t want to tell this story.”
Burnside, whose character, Ricky, was confirmed HIV positive on the show, said that having a TV program that people watch week after week helps open up the conversation and destigmatize the condition.
“If we can take that and harness that power to encourage more conversations amongst families and amongst schools and amongst churches about dealing with this problem in the black community and queer community, I think that’s really what works,” he said.
Additional panels at the Summit held at the 1 Hotel in West Hollywood included “Drag & Music: From Drag Race to the Top of the Charts,” “Digital Media: Pride and Platforms” and “They/Them Write The Songs.”