Pose: Janet Mock on Pray’s Loss, Angel and Patty’s Meeting, Celebrating Trans Women’s Bodies, and More

Co-created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Steven Canals, and set around the birth the modern American LGBTQ rights movement, Pose has proven to be a compelling look at the intersection of ball culture, the 1980s HIV and AIDS epidemic, and the politics that would define an entire generation. 

The series is regularly praised for both its groundbreaking casting and its diverse production team. (The show features the largest cast of transgender actors as series regulars and a significant number of LGBTQ production team members at every level.) But its strengths equally lie in its approach to storytelling: an honest, but sensitive tackling of challenging subjects and an authentic look at the history of a community fighting to be safe and seen. 

This past Sunday, the series added yet another item to its growing list of progressive footprints. Activist, author and Pose writer and producer Janet Mock became the first black trans woman to direct a TV episode. TV Fanatic spoke to Mock about her directorial debut, how she approached handling one of the season’s most delicate episodes, and where we can expect the series to go from here. 

[“Love Is The Message”] is the first time we see a more musical aspect to [Pose], and it doesn’t happen at the ball or the dance school. It happens in a wing of a hospital. Can you talk about shooting that scene and why the creative team chose to make that the first time we hear the lovely voices of your cast members?

I wanted to make sure the audience earned that moment. That they would have seen Pray Tell and Blanca through five episodes by then. They would know them, and feel them, and love them, so when they use a different part of their instruments as actors, it really felt like it was this cathartic, deeply emotional moment.

Everyone knows that Billy Porter is a national treasure and has a voice of gold. I think a lot of people don’t know that about MJ Rodriguez. So the fact that she does it, it comes off as a complete surprise.

I think also about them doing it as a service, as proctors of service to all those that we are memorializing, who’ve passed from HIV/AIDS and are still struggling with that. Then, those who are actually in that particular AIDS ward with Costas, we wanted to give them a sense of joy and something to look forward to, and a piece of entertainment. 

The show is billed as a dance musical in the frame of the 1980’s Fame, so we didn’t really expect that people would sing, but how could we not when we have instruments like Billy Porters’ and MJ Rodriguez. We had to use them. It just was necessary.

The full interview appeared at TV Fanatic on July, 9, 2018.