Once Again, Pose’s Trans Actors Are Snubbed at 2020 Emmys
This year’s Emmy nominations were announced yesterday, and while it was a great year for Black talent being honored, once again, the trans actors on FX’s Pose—Mj Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Angelica Ross, and Dominique Jackson—were snubbed while Black cis male actor Billy Porter was nominated yet again.
Let me start off by saying that I adore Billy Porter. He is an icon, a gay elder, and I am so glad that he is being recognized even more in the mainstream as a great talent who deserves to be honored. But while cis queer people are certainly a part of the fabric of Pose, the core of the narrative is the trans community, the ballroom culture they created, and their experiences within inside and outside of the safety of that world.
Season two of Pose was even better than the first, as it removed its white “entry point” characters and allowed the characters of color to really be the avatars through which we journey into this world. At this point, if you need Evan Peters, Kate Mara, and James Van Der Beek to guide you through a story about New York City ball culture, this might not be the show for you.
The show also covered a lot more ground, touching on violence against Black trans women through the death of Candy, how Madonna’s “Vogue” started a shallow interest in ballroom culture that didn’t ultimately help the people in that community, the sexism in ballroom, Angel’s modeling career, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Yet, it all worked, and despite the darkness, the show always managed to bring in some optimism and humor.
Once again, Mj Rodriguez and Indya Moore have the ability to make me cry at the drop of a hat, and Dominique Jackson is one of the most talented comedic actresses. Her ability to make one terrified, offended, and doubled over with laughter from one piece of dialogue to another is as artful as her brows.
As I said last year, and after watching the Disclosure documentary on Netflix, I feel more strongly on this subject. I believe the reason why the people doing the nominations overlook Pose’s trans talent is that they don’t see acting. They think, maybe even subconsciously, that transness is a performance, and that what we are seeing isn’t talented actors exploring characters, but just the outtakes of these people’s lives. It is a bias that is not only transphobic but also erases the talent of these performers.
Pose is a drama, not a documentary.
This is heartbreaking because, as someone who watches a lot of television for work and for pleasure, Rodriguez, Moore, Ross, and Jackson are delivering on every level. Thankfully, Pose has been renewed for season three, which gives the powers that be one more year to get it together.
Until then, stream Pose on Netflix.
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