Ryan Murphy Sets Record Number of Transgender Actors on TV for Upcoming Series

Prolific television impresario Ryan Murphy’s new FX show Pose will feature the highest number of transgender actors to ever been cast in regular roles for a scripted series.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the casting process took six months and involved a nationwide search.

The drama focuses on different realities of society life in the 1980s, including the emergence of the luxury Trump-era universe, the downtown social and literary scene and the ball culture world.

The trans actors joining the show are MJ Rodriguez (Nurse Jackie, Luke Cage) in the role of Bianca; Indya Moore (Saturday Church), who will play Angel; fashion model and New York ball scene performer Dominique Jackson in the role of Elektra; Hailie Sahar (Transparent, Mr Robot), playing Lulu; and Angelica Ross (Transparent) in the role of Candy. Each of the roles are authentic transgender characters.

The show was co-created with Steven Canals, who wrote the screenplays with Transparent scribe Our Lady J and Janet Mock, transgender rights activist and author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Redefining Realness. Also Brad Falchuck, who previously collaborated with Murphy on Glee and American Horror Story, contributed to defining the show’s concept.

“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,” Canals said. “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.”

To guarantee the authenticity of the scenes, the team relied on ball culture consultants Michael Roberson and Twiggy Pucci, as well as Hector Xtravaganza, Skylar King and Sol Williams, who witnessed this particular segment of the social life of the 1980s.

In the past year, Ryan Murphy has launched Half Initiative, a project conceived to foster the representation of female and minority directors in his productions. FX Networks revealed that the initiative boosted the inclusion rate in the directing area of the brand’s series from 12% in 2015 to 51% in 2016. The Ryan Murphy productions have assigned 60% of the directing tasks to women, 94% of whom representing minorities.

The television powerhouse also launched the Director Mentorship Programme, in which directors working on his productions mentor emerging ones during the different stages of the job, along with a significant compensation.

29 people took part in the programme in 2016, while 2017 drew 30 participants; the mentorship provided more than $200,000 (£152,600) in financial aid.  

Murphy said about the project: “I love looking around my company and empowering inclusion in all departments. I recently led a production meeting and was proud to see that more than half of the people sitting at the table were women and minorities. That’s the way it should be.”

Pose will add itself to recent series which helped breaking television ground with transgender characters. In 2013, Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black featured a diverse cast including Laverne Cox, who plays the transgender inmate Sofia in a women’s correctional facility. In 2014, Amazon Studios’ Transparent — part of whose creative team will work on Pose introduced the leading character of Maura Pfefferman (played by Jeffrey Tambor), father of a Los Angeles family who, having always identified himself as a woman, decides to start his transition journey.

Production for Pose began last month in New York City.


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