Moderated by Angel Dust, a fabulous drag queen decked out and “Beat To The Gods,” the Queer and Ally Student Assembly (QUASA) hosted a conversation on campus last week with “Pose” superstar Indya Moore.
If you’re a fan of the hit FX show then you’re familiar with Moore’s character Angel Evangelista and her dream of becoming a model. In season two, we see her dream realized as she becomes the face of Wet 'n Wild cosmetics. But did you know that before Moore joined “Pose” they were trying to make it as a model?
While speaking to students about their experience being transgender in the entertainment industry at USC’s Bovard Auditorium, Moore dished about their time as an aspiring model. (Moore’s pronouns are (them/they/their.)
The actor and activist admitted that it was not until after “Pose” that modeling agencies began to take them seriously. But even then, they only saw them as merely an influencer.
“Some part about that hurt me,” Moore said. “I hate to admit it because it’s such a meaningless occupation in the larger context of life, but I always wanted to be a model. It’s hard to be a model. However, when you’re trans and it’s even harder... But I’m grateful to be able to get in a room with brands and people of power who are the gatekeepers and talk about why it’s important that while I may be the first, (I will) not be the last.”
While modeling may not have ushered the star into the spotlight in real life, it certainly did for their character Angel in “Pose.”
During Moore’s conversation on campus, they talked about their role on the FX series and how initially they wanted to audition for the role of Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista, played wonderfully by actress and singer MJ Rodriguez.
Moore was turned off by Angel’s character because she was described as the “precious, darling beauty.”
“I didn’t want to be that, I did not want to represent that,” they said. “I wanted to use my body to amplify the larger context of trans people’s experience. When I looked past the description, I was touched.”
Moore certainly can see elements of their own personality in Angel, for better or for worse, but there are some things they wish the character would do.
“I do wish Angel used her access to uplift her family and other trans women like Candy (Ferocity),” Moore said. "When she (Angel) got her coins, she just up and left her mother in a crumbling home with no air conditioning. It didn’t come naturally for Angel to think about how she could be of service to the House of Evangelista. This is what brings me a question of her ability to be a good mother in some ways. And I hope that changes.”
Speaking of Candy, were you crying your eyes out during those funeral scenes?
As watchers of the show, we do not see the emotional toll these roles take on the actors. Moore recalled filming for the funeral of Candy Ferocity and how difficult it was.
“These aren’t just roles we’re playing,” Moore said. “These are true stories. These are true stories that we’re telling. I hope our audience finds it in themselves to love black trans women not just when we’re entertaining them and with our trauma, but also we need protection, political advocacy resources, our families and our communities, and we need you to have our backs.”
The conversation was not serious all the time, however, as there were fun moments. The audience enjoyed hearing Moore discuss being in romantic scenes with their cast mate Angel Bismark Curiel, who plays House of Evangelista’s Lil Papi.
In real life, Curiel is the boyfriend of “Pose” writer, director and producer Janet Mock, whom Moore considers a mother figure. Moore said they were not as excited as some would have been to share romantic screen time with Curiel.
“I don’t know, it just seemed completely inappropriate for me in my head,” Moore said. “I spoke intimately about my fears, and she (Janet) was so kind and receptive. She was very loving and supportive and assured me that she trusted me. They both made me feel so much better. He (Curiel) never touched me anywhere during rehearsal without consent. He always made sure I was comfortable.”
Before the conversation ended, Moore engaged in a Q & A session where students were able to speak directly to the “Pose” star. One of Moore’s ending comments dealt with their feelings about their school experience.
“School is not safe for trans people. With a lot of trans history, there’s so much that we don’t learn, that people don’t learn, that contributes to so much violence that we experience ... So like, that’s, you know, my thoughts about schooling. I think it’s overrated, but it’s over necessary at the same time, unfortunately, to survive as a society.”