Meet The Boundary Breaking Cast Of Pose

Craig Blankenhorn/FX
Watch enough Ryan Murphy shows, and you know what you’ll encounter: Sarah Paulson’s wry smile, Evan Peters’ sulk, Jessica Lange’s side-eye. Pose, out June 3 on FX, defies all those expectations. In the show, Murphy unveils a cast of electrifying newcomers to the Murphy Universe (plus Evan Peters, because it’s not a Ryan Murphy show without Evan Peters).
Pose’s cast makes television history. The series, set in the drag ball scene of 1987 New York, has broken the record for the highest number of trans actors in series regular roles. All five trans actors will be playing trans characters. Dominique Jackson plays the unforgettably fierce Elektra Abundance, the house “mother" who guards over her “children” with control and a competitive spirit. Blanca (MJ Rodriguez) plays Elektra’s HIV-positive “child” who breaks out to form her own house, and goes head-to-head with Elektra on the ball floor.
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While Blanca and Elektra’s rivalry is the churning center of the show’s action, the series' other characters are just as memorable. With Pose, Murphy has carved a space in the TV landscape for trans actors and queer actors of color. “This is one of the best casts I’ve ever worked with," Murphy told Vox. "Many of them, when we were shooting, had never been in front of a camera. That was more exciting to me, to be blunt — to make stars and create opportunities."
Pose isn't just a delightfully entertaining show (I rewatch scenes regularly). It's an important one. Meet the cast of Pose ahead.
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Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage.
Dominique Jackson

Who She's Playing: Elektra Abundance, the queen of the ball scene. Elektra is the mother of the House of Abundance. Since Blanca defected the House of Abundance to form her own house, Elektra has been locked into a rivalry with her former child — one that you can tell she partly enjoys.

Where You've Seen Her: Elektra is Jackson's breakout dramatic role. Prior to Pose, she appeared on Strut, a modeling reality TV show that featured a cast of trans models.
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Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images.
Mj Rodriguez

Who She's Playing: At the start of Pose, Blanca, Rodriguez's character, is diagnosed with HIV. Immediately after hearing the news, Blanca makes a bold decision. Blanca is going to leave the House of Abundance and start the House of Evangelista. The show focuses on her gathering "children" who will compete in the ballrooms scene with her.

Where You've Seen Her: Along with her Pose co-star Indya Moore, Rodriguez appeared in the movie Saturday Church (2017), in which she played the mentor of a genderqueer teen finding himself through the contemporary ball scene. She's also appeared in Luke Cage.
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Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage.
Indya Moore

Who She's Playing: Angel, a beautiful trans woman who works as a sex worker and dancer. She starts a relationship with Stan.

Where You've Seen Her: Before Pose, Moore worked primarily as a model for brands like Dior, Gucci, and Oak. She also appeared in Saturday Church alongside co-star Mj Rodriguez.
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Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.
Evan Peters

Who He's Playing: Stan Bowes is caught between worlds. On the one hand, he's a white man entrenched in corporate America. He works in the free-wheeling, craven corporate environment of the Trump Organization, and has a wife and kids in New Jersey. What no one knows is that he's enamored with Angel, a trans woman.

Where You've Seen Him: Peters is a staple in the Ryan Murphy universe — he's appeared in multiple seasons of American Horror Story. He has extensive movie and TV experience. In June, he'll appear in the heist movie American Animals.
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Kate Mara

Who She's Playing: Mara plays Stan's wife, Patty Bowes, who has no idea that her husband is seeing Angel on the side.

Where You've Seen Her: Most recently, Mara played Mary Jo Kopechne, the victim of Senator Ted Kennedy's car accident, in Chappaquiddick. Mara has been acting since she was 14, and has racked up a list of impressive appearances including The Fantastic Four, House of Cards, and The Martian.
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James Van Der Beek

Who He's Playing: Matt Bromley, Stan's coworker at the Trump Organization. He's prone to doing cocaine in the office. That's all you need to know about Matt.

Where You've Seen Him: Come on! Dawson Leery in Dawson's Creek.
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Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images.
Ryan Jamaal Swain

Who He's Playing: After Damon is kicked out of his home in Allentown, he moves to New York. Damon is Blanca's first recruit into the House of Evangelista. Blanca helps him kickstart his professional dancing career.

Where You've Seen Him: Swain is a professional dancer with extensive theater credits. He wrote and starred in A Negro Writer, a one-man show about the life of Langston Hughes, in 2014.
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Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage.
Dyllón Burnside

Who He's Playing: Ricky lives on the street until he meets Damon Richards, who pulls him into the House of Evangelista.

Where You've Seen Him: This is Burnside's breakout role. Prior, he'd appeared on one episode of High Maintenance.
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Billy Porter

Who He's Playing: Pray Tell, the emcee of the ball scene. He can come up with some fantastic, on-the-spot assessments of competitors. He's also a fashion designer.

Where You've Seen Him: Billy Porter is most famous for originating the role of Lola in Kinky Boots, and he's also appeared in many other Broadway shows — Grease, Miss Saigon, Dreamgirls, to name a few. Fans of The Get Down will recognize Porter as DJ Malibu.
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Charlayne Woodard

Who She's Playing: Helena St. Rogers, a dance instructor who takes a chance on Damon.

Where You've Seen Her: Woodard has extensive theater experience. She was nominated for a Tony for her work in Ain't Misbehavin on Broadway. Aside from Pose, she's also appeared in Law and Order: SVU, ER, and Terminator: The Sarah Connors Chronicles, among many others.
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Photo: Jim Spellman/WireImage.
Angelica Ross

Who She's Playing: Candy, a member of the House of Abundance

Where You've Seen Her: Ross helmed Her Story, an Emmy-nominated web series about a trans woman living in Los Angeles. She also has appeared on Claws and Transparent. In addition to working as an actor, Ross founded TransTech Social Enterprises, a talent incubator that fosters the careers of trans people.
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Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage.
Hailie Sahar

Who She's Playing: Lulu, Elektra's second-in-command at the House of Abundance. She hopes to start a house of her own one day.

Where You've Seen Her: Sahar has appeared on Transparent and Mr. Robot. She also works as a recording artist.
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Photo: Jimi Celeste/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images.
Angel Bismarck Curiel

Who He's Playing: Lil Papi, an orphan and a member of the House of Abundance.

Where You've Seen Him: Lil Papi on Pose is Curiel's first series regular role, though he's appeared in two Sundance 2018 films: Monsters and Men and Night Comes On.
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