'POSE' stars on show's role in highlighting key issues of the LGBTQ+ community

Cast members Mj Rodriguez, Dominique Jackson and Indya Moore, and the show's co-executive producer and writer Steven Canals, sit down with Juju Chang for ABC News' Pride Month speaker series.
39:57 | 06/13/19

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Transcript for 'POSE' stars on show's role in highlighting key issues of the LGBTQ+ community
Sol mine's Barbara and Steve and candy and all the other executives. Who embrace the price series because frankly. That's how this kind of event takes place I'm juju Chang as Barbara said from ABC news Nightline and we are so proud. To be part of this speaker series kicking off their Summers prior in the house right now all. Okay. I can feel how we're gonna kick off this year by spotlighting the ground breaking dabbling. Cannot poignant FX series pose. It shines a light on the legends of the underground ballroom culture of the 1980s here in new York and these competitions became a safe space. For often marginalized members of the LG BTQ plus community. It has drawn praise from viewers and critics alike and one of the stars Angie Rodriguez who you're about to meet. Says being a part of the show is a form of activism in its own right. And it's made history in its own right with the largest cast of transgender actors in this series regular roles. Let's check at a clip. Day's top and we remind the world Leon. So tough that we take everything they can. One within about what went to junkie. You gets you have bigger dreams of hornets on wall. This person doing something good stories for a New England. What exactly he's a ball plaza are gathering up. It's like TV person after the dream. It's been a dream and reality. We want to life. Going to be channeling. Secret weapon. Mo. I. Fabulous and say Rodriguez Dominic Jackson India more and poses co creator co executive producer. And even writers Stephen canals cannot. Coming I don't know. In one space I'm so throw under the first question to all of you guys which is posed is historic it is. Unprecedented and unique in so many ways and so much so because it is telling bees. Truths that are often hidden often ignored a group of people trans people of color who are highlighted. Why it's so important for you to get on board this bandwagon who wants to start. Because we have created every thing. I have in its he has always been there when it comes from make. It's understanding. To India more being. The amazing activist that she is to MJ Rodriguez belting out. Homes that people have never heard this to Stephen canal house who I sometimes confuse with Steven Seagal. Look for as I'm no reason that. Has given us the opportunity to be able to not only being out cells but two of its. Show authentic sounds. India I know that at first you are hesitant to take on this role in part because you're afraid it might be playing into stared Texan. Sexual rising and demonizing. Trans people. What major ship to a huge change in mind. Com well you know I think. Some my last hope for before Merrill impose as Angel. Was the John and sent it hurts. By the human produces Adams and I we were on that. Independent. I mean. It was such an incredible. Experience. You know being able to play be shown. But I didn't want to continue on and you know taking on narratives that sexual lives trans people. And that. You know I felt like just playing another role where I'm playing a sex worker. Was gonna. Just further the stereotype about trans people but what I realized that it it's important for our Trent sex workers to have representation as well. And that. I think sex work is heavily demonize and I think that it's really import and that. You know we tell these stories and that we humanize these narratives because. You know a lot of people who'll are sex workers don't have a choice but to be. But also it's okay for someone I have their own bodily autonomy to choose. You know sex work as an occupation. Regardless of survival absolutely and. You play long got eventually stuff before I ask you the question let's play the clips you can get a good sense. She knew what. Greatest pain a person and he it's. The greatest tragedy a life. Can experience. Has gotten a true. Incite if you can do not being able to share it. Having a computing and no one there to see it. This young boy has been discarded in here is so young he believed that it has something to do with who he is. And I can't. It is going to eat. At him from the inside and that he starts or present even the best part to himself. FC. That is you being the mother baron and you play a house mother and you have children in this house perhaps can define the terms because I know that you spent. Time yourself in the house seeing the ball and seeing the bombs being. And when I was fourteen. That's at a very young age is allowed but it's epiphany of our community it's about finding a place for people that. Don't feel like they have a place outside of their homes that they've been kicked out at sell a house is the place where all of the young children goes through. A mother or father of the house of the people who are the pull everything together there they take the role of the father the mother is that we're not there for their children and I'm against the something that a lot of kids really such plans are to be to community especially in the Latin and young African American community when there just hasn't lots thing. And this is a family that defines itself by being part of this house here and then I'll use spent time I'm sorry to dominate it I know you spent time. In that ballroom culture as well explain your experience and how the story lines you were quoted as saying feels like a form of activism. In them that sell out while I I don't spend time in ballroom I am ballroom. OK. If it's. And then based on your experience how is this living out the reliving the actual truth in your view well at times it is it hurts. Because when you're going through an experience and it and it been attempting to survive. You don't realize you don't look outside of yourself and think that anyone else is going through the you're just in that moment realize that you're going through it and you look to those people that will save your life and try to help you and that is what ballroom differently. Ballroom was the place where. Ballmer was actually the place that saved my life. Ballroom was where a bunch of people that were wearing. I don't even want to say any names but they weren't name brands. At that time. Or still today. By. They walked up to me with such confidence. How does that save your life. When you mean by that because that was about today our young man because I was young and fresh and hot and I think I'd say you're still hot. Yeah. I I yeah our right now spend banned by the time. I was attending to date someone because I wanted to feel like I was trying to attempt to find myself in right to find where I belong. And these people come up to me and they say to me oh you're not gonna date him. And I questioned it and what they did was they stopped me from dating someone that was so insecure. With their own diagnosis. People don't realize what gift give me a news and we call it gift giving and we called all these things but I was saved by ballroom. From. Engaging someone intimately. That was trying to hurt me. Because of their own trauma. Turning away from self destructive behavior I thought you were to talk about cement. The high rates of suicide attempts in this L in this community as well Stephen might turn to you. When this was a passion project for you ten years in the making although it must have been truly a child when you started Hanson shot. What should you be unafraid to tell v.s raw story is how did you think that Hollywood would be ready for it. Or the audience for that matter. In truth I didn't know if the audience would be ready for it and I think that that's a large part of the reason why it took so long to get this project. Off the ground and why are required to someone who is a true disrupt or like Ryan Murphy to step in as producer. And say this show this story deserves to be told. And you touched a lot of very serious issues from HIV out of the gate in the pilot and homelessness why was it important for you to tell those stories. Not just the glitz and the glam. So I was I'm a Bronx born and bred. Storyteller. CNN India out grew up. Near each other right in the Brock group in the same neighborhood and very fertile green older than her. Woman quite any overlap but yeah. But not me I grew up in the Bronx in housing projects in the 1980s in the midst of both the HIV aids and crack epidemics. And you know it was critically important for me to tell the story of my people my community. Those individuals who have been overlooked. In north a time that I began to conceive this story. My television screen was saturated with straight white suspended mail anti heroes. And the question for me in assessing the television landscape was. Where are the stories of queer and trans black and brown people. Right. Fans of both your inspiration because I witnessed a moment backstage where you just met Whoopi Goldberg and you tell me assert that gave me goose bumps tell tele audience. So 1986. The color purple was released my mother just finished reading Alice Walker's book concerns she said. We're gonna go to whites don't cinema house which is in the Bronx and is now closed. Com and we're gonna go see a movie and we watch the color purple and a wept at the end. Of the film. When Syria many are reunited. And you know sixers also I didn't have a sense of what I was gonna do with my life at that point professionally. The one take away from me at six was whatever I choose to do I know that I want people to feel the way that I just. And that such a powerful example of why representation matters right regret is sharing with you that crazy rich Asians I'm watching it and I'm crying in the dumplings scene and I can't quite explain why. Now but it's hard for people in the mainstream culture to understand that why it's so important. Because we've met Caitlin Jenner we've met GG gorgeous we've met a number of trans women and yet these are stories and you're making history not just because of the number. Up trans. Artists who are in the show but because of the segment of this community that you're highlighting why is it so important. For these stories to be told because we have to realize that we need to stop judging each that from a sexual foundation. And we have to start understanding that we are part of the progress of our communities. We are part of the progress of the world. And so we must get out of each others' bedrooms and start respecting each back and that is my platform we must respect each other. We must be inclusive we must understand that it is not about what you think about me. It is about what I can do to make this world about to play suspected this but I. Yeah. I now more than ever when arguably trans rights and and rights of marginalized people are under attack. Yeah Evers respect is definitely. Responsibility and I think media and and it is so powerful. And the way it influences. Perception and the way people see themselves so like. You know what we have shows as Stephen canals you know created and has been trying to you know create and Ryan Murphy and Janet mock. And you know Brad full chuck Brad Simpson shots all of them. They. Revolutionize the way that stories are told and who gets to see. Lou who stories get to be told and so. You know. What we're taking these narratives are putting them on screen it's giving audience and people who don't know what transit Allard an opportunity. To get to know what our expenses are like and how they influence them. In one little seen in the pilot you there's a throwaway line we're like I don't wanna go and failure in your ripping off that royalty costumes and I wanna go to jail my friend. Got her nose broken. In jail and like with that little line you highlight. The dangers the harm to this community Weiss that's so important to sort of we'd into the narrative. Well it's important because I mean a lot of stuff that happened in 98% and it's happening today and 2019. There are a lot of individuals who aren't. At the hem of death and violence I mean we all know this we've seen it on newsman use three transport and had we have been killed as well as. One more recently and I think those topics to be tackled in people it's actually seen the normalcy that we have in network equal. A lot of people stigma tied that's constantly and I think shows like posed. When leases and if it leverages I think gives us hope and gives us the winds into our lives as human beings we believe. We heard and I left my daughter. Hap president the average life expectancy for trans woman of colors 35 years old. So a show like pose becomes critically important. In showing. That. Should the trans community deserves love and deserves respect that they should be censored that there identity should be affirmed. That we have to work together to keep them safe get. Give me some behind the scenes as to why that's startling statistic is the case 35 years olds average left explains why explain that to this. Vote out puts you like tents. I'm home at 35. I'm not supposed to be alive right now. I'm one of those people. Every time I see. In an moves. And when it is actually highlighted that one of my sister's a monitored. We're not talking about what my sister that's going out there and saying she wants to be a part of violence are part of gains on drugs or anything back. We're talking about survival. Where murdered because reliving it not true and that is unfair. Let's take it back to the civil rights movement. Right we was we were arguing. And fight seeing. Our rights. But we didn't fight for the rights for everyone. We fought for the right to be privileged. Now. In this day we need to fight for the right to be equal. Seventh elections on. It's odd is that what you're about to say is incredibly important India go ahead seven trans people have already been murdered so far and when in nineteen. And also. That number could. Deal be a lot more and be a lot higher because trans people. Our hour Kennedys and an hour. Aren't aren't. Correctly identified and an art that we where mr. Enders and you know the police investigations don't include our names and their so many trans people who can afford. So I'm changes documentation. India. I wanted to talk to you about you prone counts. We talked backstage you are non by marrying and you've graced the cover of Elle Magazine you have a contract will Calvin Klein yes that's just. Mrs. progress. Explain to the some to all of us the importance of that they then there pronoun and why that's important to you and and what happens while we mass about which. Which I you know I struggle with that I think I'm pretty educated I read the glad handbook. And I still left that out. I think it's important for people said incorporate you know asking what people's prone towns are in addition. You know like hey what you name. What's your preferred and opponents because I think a lot of times news soon gender. You know I think this society as indoctrinated a singular. Understanding of gender. And not trans people and an event people have existed forever. And I think out of the wave of colonialism has erased so much about history. From you know. So many of our ancestors who've who've. Openly acknowledged. And have loved it and and and up trans people and an event people it's it is as if the definitions of just become more bad hair. I would turn out to the the the ballroom of it all the artistry there's a clip that will summon up perfectly let's take a look. Free. It tells you a lot to sense of the culture of the shade. You know the thing that everybody always go about the shade and that's what you're about but they need to do people need to understand that there's an odd to street ballroom. Ballroom is about. Finding chills and in proven apparently. Ballroom is about. Being able to go out there and show Europe ought to street your talent when the outside world does not allow you to do it. So many of the people from couple up Asia. And and and Avis and Dobson Dorian Corey who were creating gowns and beating them on hold I mean. If you ever saw an Avis and got a patent office get around all opt have a lot bays up and you would think Bob Mackie. Yeah. How Stephen go from the glitz the glam the fun of it all and then go back to these highly serious topics that we talked about. And how much distant resistance did you get over the years trying to get this name. When there was a lot of resistance there. Where at least a 150 nose while for a finally heard that first yes. You know was two years which comparatively speaking there are folks in Hollywood and compassion for others for much longer than not but. You know there were two years of going in and out of executive officers. Hoping that someone would you don't want to buy the material or partner to develop it. I think what's. What was difficult during that period though is that. When you're working on the screen writing degree as either the UC a later told to locate yourself with in the material right personalized. And so. To go into an office and be told no. There's a subtext to we are not interested in the material rain. Which is we're not interested in you in your lived experience in who you are as a person hellish research did you in sort of the current foreign scene and the historic one. Quite a bit on our show we have we're fortunate to have. But he consultant sudden we're from the ballroom community additionally we have are actresses. We're all from ballroom as well and so it's it's wonderful collectively we all are working together to craft its narrow. Anne and I will at this as an icon and ballroom. Deemed iconic in 2016. I will say this I've never walked on to sat and sat well there was one pack. I'm I've never walked on the sat and felt like my community was being appropriate and into saint. On the off all talk about cultural appropriation all hell let's talk about announced. Not because you were seen on that red carpets at the Matt Paula. And here you are. White hot spotlight in the middle of mainstream culture and yet there cost a lot of cultural appropriation over the years you look at Madonna's. Vogue and the posing that happens and in many ways the street fashion that's going on let let let's be really Claire about something right. And when you are community that is fighting to survive and finding your own. Love with himself and creating your own space and someone like Madonna comes along and says let me put you out there. That is acknowledgment when it is just like when Ryan Murphy and Steve become house about this Britain's Stephen wrote the story. And then. Missed my face you know one. We're going to create its. This is not appropriation is appropriation is when. You come into our community and you fantasize that's. In that you take from then and you don't acknowledge ass. But when you up list in that way it's almost like along route shoplifting and empowering. It's about giving back it's about looking into other communities and realizing that what you grew up with your experiences. Are not suggest it. Depth of experience is out there and we have to go out there and pursue Bell's other cultural experiences and learn to love them that's why we travel. That is why we go to of the place it's why we open our perspective and MJ I want to talk a little bit about how even within the LG BT community there's. Struggles with acceptance that has seen from. I think it's episode two at a gay bar let's take a look. I'll have a Manhattan and bring here it is happening now. And he can't look. This one's on me any getting you know anything Eisner's community strengthening. I'm sorry but not injuring him. What went from better. You don't like women minions see gay bar. This she gets repeat your character Blanca gets repeatedly kicked out of the gay bar do you think there's still. Struggle with acceptance. I think where it being a blip it's. At a bad expect that continues to be worked on within the community as we on now I mean with people who are part of a specific generation. There things that they are very accustomed to and it's people like rats that have to just change that around how effective thing we have to change the cycle. So yet it happens but it's something that. It's not hard to fix and yet you. Have been quoted as saying that being on the show I quoted you in the intro is like a form of activism in an of itself why do you mean what I mean it's a plum activism because too aren't you keep to tell stories that have happened. I'm. Obviously this is not amistad story that some interesting aspects to it but there are a lot of growth stories in a lot of these characters emulate a lot of people who where in the volatile thing. And I think a lot of people will do the research announced C. How hard we as trans woman of that time had to fight. It's can't individuals had to fight at that time and how we have that. How why we're here today able to tell the story rank. Stephen you talked about a 150 knows you're getting a lot of yeses these days yes it's a nomination from the Golden Globe. Yet a Peabody award. But yeah I do. Ward. And. And hopefully yes yes yes yes yes during any season how applying is that for you. It's. Great it makes me want to go back totals 150 people with that no. I mean it's incredible a you know to have our show. Be in conversation. Is incredible you know if our show is nominated for the best drama series. It would be. The first time that a drama series that centers not one but the story is a five. Trends in the caller has ever been nominated in the seven U plus history. Not even to save that. You'll still have data mark an early BJ who were producers on our shuttle. You know an IA as an Afro Latin queer person you know in the history we've never seen these identity is represented in drama series so it would be a historic first. It's incredible. It is incredible I want to bring out some of your on your lived truth some of your own experiences. Because Dominique NO as a Caribbean. American. And you have municipal Caribbean you have got credit card for thirty cut our hot. Quit but you've described having escaped and and come to the states you know has escaped. Difficulties how how is that how would your personal experiences shaped the character that you play. Well. Coming here for. In the Caribbean and realizing that I didn't have assays phase in the place that I called home was very difficult. By coming here and being a part of ballroom and being a part. All of this. Has helped me to realize that we have to work hard enough things that we want. Sometimes we're not blessed with privilege but it doesn't mean that you cannot achieve it and I taking your family your culture was not particularly is out I got my mom was higher Friday. My. Family was horrified but my brother. Found the love and me. And he's ten years my junior and he found eleven me Andy tell me back no matter what I did. He would always loved me if I'm betting that (%expletive) So he's always been there for me so in families it's not about as we have to realize. I finally is up coming from taught experiences. Dick Conner and from. There are bared their own beliefs. So they don't now also it is up to us and for me it was about being patient enough with my family. To let them know that I can you. And I am worthy of love and that eventually they would have no choice but to let me because I'm going to be a star. India we talked about how you guys grew up in the Bronx. Is it fair to say having shifted through Foster homes is that right. And and had some bullying in your background how deep those experiences. Shape who you are. I mean like all of it has. I drop out of school. Because bullying was really heavy in I just couldn't focus on my work. Because. I just. You know I I wouldn't be able to use the restroom. Without com a security guard. Followed me in the bathroom you know clearing out missiles allow had a fight. To be able. To have a security guy they're out the Russian selective use it there's so many of the trans people who've. Held. Using a restroom. Out Olin school would also have folks who don't understand they call it the bathroom fight. And they don't really understand it what would you say to them based on your experience. I think it's really important for the safety of of trans people sit CT use the restrooms. Art alliance with our vanities. And and also I mean. Everyone deserves seas of about them or restroom. And it's a matter of dignity kick. Now he yet it's it's very simple and I think the people's lives are at risk art are trans people when we're not able to use the Russians that. Online alignment with our gender. I'm trans people. Aren't. A risk says anyone. Amen I think this is that the narrative that a lot of people have used to fight against our our right to be movies about them but you know bullying. A lot of my life has. Shaped gland and it's made me a much stronger person and survival is made me Bree you know. I've already had already seen the worst of what my life could be so. It it's very easy for me to stand up for myself and others without thinking too much about on the risks that come at that an even more so accepting what they may be. As a result of of talking about the truth. This art I thank you and and say you talked about. Being in the ballroom community young you. Went to Berkeley college of muted here click here that you ticket kind of scattered shot. Approach I did of herself when I was fourteen to seventeen hours and high school but I was ops is speaking out to New York City. And I would think you know my house by house father went. Eighteen came I was a kid who would even have an idea where I was gonna do I just not wanted to do its arts. So you know I had scholarships that were handed to me acting get them because I mean my grades worm. What people expected the but I got one and now with the Berkeley fellowship and I went there and I'm. Finally found myself would then that I was actually got my mother yesterday about it and should back off. Everything you could have been in Berkeley college of music he came back and a son person like you know moment when. Yeah. Greg Abbott it was definitely a change and at the ballroom scene helped me just constantly come pullout was a noble I was actually get to see people. Who had just like me and I didn't feel alone and when I came back home don't have that they do that as well also there were two aspects. Doesn't gambling and also having Finley at home and go back there. In the show your character talks about how your legacy is going to be these trophies and these competitions. What do you seizure that legacy. One another's found she's been back I was on my legacy to be I'm someone who was asked. And I would stand here this whole town thinking like. She can ask that question can. Buy an item one of these she's a but I'm going to be I mean I feel it the most important thing is to spread understanding. People understand that this human beings. Like I said earlier we believe we we cry. We succeed. And we winds aren't just hope people understand that the that show. Yet I have to say that is not at all she sees some of the wise as people line knows say you don't fight hate with hate exactly. You fight hate with love right. I strongly believe that. Adam curious. Do you feel like doors will open for trends. Performers. Now that the success of pose has put it on the map in such a big. Well you just look at it as this suppose we have to look at women like Laverne Cox incentive mom. We have that was brought wit and I don't realize that you bring that up I. Yeah I'm but we have to look at all of these women that have been the fighting from the beginning. We have to take it back to so they are apparently really have to understand what the Stonewall fifty really is about. Because if there was not just about it and please understand Stonewall is not a riot. It was a rebellion. It was people saying that we have had enough. It was about. Girls that we are living in their truth being told that they could not living their true because they have to carry one eye to them that was supposedly. In bear birth gender a birth sex as is that right. Correct me as an emerald you know I'm old school yeah. And the sky any Issac. It's it's it's it's it's about all of these things. You guy is guests to the grand marshals are speaking of pride month of the gay pride parade woman's hair. We're looking at Bowden. Kite mean to you each of you with start. Stephen with you. Well. Think for me pride is about. Walking and apologetic we in your truth. You know it's about having an understanding. Of the rich history of our community. The reality is that the LG BTQ plus community is the only community that has to go out and seek their own history and it is he taught in school curriculums. You know we have to rely on each other to provide that information. And as Dominique mentioned you know. Right now we're talking about. You know. Oh GB TE liberation. And the reality is that we are all here this show exists. On the shoulders of black and brown trans women specifically Marsha. I have seen. I mean eloquent think about -- think about systemic oppression. Because. All all the times where people. You know our our our our talking about the pride that they have to themselves. It's really in response of the parts of of their existence at the world around them systematically tauzin is and a lot's exits. So like black pride for example you know it let but you know black people. Very very proud. Other blackness you know what very proud of of of you know being black in this comes from the systemic oppression in silencing a blackness. Queer people are very proud of being queer transplant very product being queer. And is comes from the systemic oppression of being. Queer and trans so it's like loving and that she departs new soft but the world. Is telling you is that those in the lots of is and allowed to exist put a lot of a lot of you know having conversations online muscles in me about pride around. We're Nissen transit isn't and and and and all the other. Parts of the sectional marginalize a Denny's if you will coming in like well why don't we had a straight Bryant will why don't we have. Why isn't it O capers. Oh wait Prater way. Oh wait pride month that it slate because you're not killed for being like. You know you don't you you're not. Ford. Shares held his fifties being tortured for being straight. You know your prioritized and punished for it that's so profound thank you don't write pried it to me means that those of us. That have B. Privilege. And be able to be visible. Have to fight for those. That do not have that same privilege. That's where the bar as high its Internet content. Well if I can be metaphor I liked do that but. Not only its prior to individuals who are sitting here on this wonderful set but. I felt my proudest. That's the pillars or the totem poles. That the younger generation kicking the rest upon and look up to totem poles to look up to see the history that has been five. For so long. And if they ever feel tired they can always looked up and see how strong that Hillary used for them keep government's announcement brilliance trying. As a says standard straight woman I'm proud of all of you I'm and certainly proud of app acts because they're about to kick off season to let's take a quick break here. College as a missing last week's subpar. Why don't always enjoy the company and missiles could use some seasoning I do think it's good for Barak's dipping sauces. Mug because problem with pray. To their big act of protest at the church on Sunday. Count me out. I'm not housing from bookshop. And you haven't you meal it when they won't walking category to get the ball well. Today the wall and that is hers in the category and Barnes and AM leave and then another. I was and our communities and Ali don't know it. From there is June 11 June 11 in eleventh everyone will be watching. And you can read binge watch season one which is a great deal of fund. Unfortunately that is all the time we have I know we can stay all day and talk with you guys thank you so much for being here. And thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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