Casting Trans Actors in Trans Roles for Pose Was Imperative to Ryan Murphy

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Ryan Murphy makes TV history with FX’s musical series Pose, which features the largest cast of transgender actors in series regular roles on a scripted TV show.

Pose is set in 1987 in New York City’s vibrant queer ball culture of extravagant fashion show competitions among houses of gay men and trans women of color — which play out against the era’s backdrop of AIDS, homelessness, and culture wars.

Murphy quipped at the Television Critics Association press tour earlier this year that looking for the right trans actors was like “searching for Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind.” After many open casting calls and outreach to the LGBT community, creators found their dream team: MJ Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, Hailie Sahar, and Angelica Ross — all trans actors playing trans characters on Pose. Trans author and activist Janet Mock (above) will appear in the show while also acting as a writer and producer. Pose also stars Charlayne Woodard, James Van Der Beek, Evan Peters, Billy Porter, and Kate Mara.

Murphy, the out gay creator of such hits as American Horror Story and Feud, says he hopes Pose will enlighten viewers on the stories of trans people, similarly to the way Glee did for queer teens. Especially given the anti-trans federal policies the Trump administration continues to pursue, “Now is the time to tell this story about this group of people who sadly are more and more disenfranchised and cut off.” At the TCA, the director added, “We wanted to celebrate them. They’re part of our family. The timing of this show was very important.”

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