Angelica Ross has paved the way for transgender actors of color as the first to secure two series regular roles in American Horror Story and Pose. As a whole, she works to increase representation of transgender individuals in television.
From a predominantly cishet industry, finding her breakthrough was far from easy. In an interview with variety.com, Ross discusses the tactics she used to help get her where she is today.
”I’ve been overlooked and I’ve had to make the world take notice,” said Ross. “I’ve had to become an undeniable force.”
She further discusses her perseverance through hardships pertaining to her race and gender indenting in an interview with self.com.
“It’s hard, but as trans people, we have got to take back our power by not allowing the administration, other people or society to determine our station in life,” said Ross. “By any means necessary, I’m going to blossom.”
Using perseverance and grit, Ross has worked her way up in the film industry to land two series regular roles, Candy Ferocity in FX’s Pose and Donna Chambers in American Horror Story: 1984. She worked with director Ryan Murphy on both of the shows. Ross discusses her progression in roles with Windy City Times.
“I am thankful to be in Ryan Murphy’s favor right now. He recognizes my talent to give me more than what I did on Pose,” said Ross. “He is giving me more screen time and more in–depth storylines. I can tell all of the writers are writing for me when I open the script.”
In Pose, Murphy goes to the extent of killing off Ross’ character in order to shed light on the violence towards Black transgender individuals. In an interview with Kellee Terrell, Ross describes how Murphy shared his idea with her.
“Ryan Murphy called me and was like, ‘So…I am just going to rip the band–aid off. We feel like the first season was great, but we viewed it through rose–colored glasses,’” said Ross. “‘This season, we want to dive into more of the realities that Black trans women face. So, Candy is going to be killed.’”
American Horror Story fans have taken notice to the lack of transgender actors in casting. After nine seasons with little representation, American Horror Story fans are excited to experience the new direction that casting has taken.
“I think transgender representation in film is really important, especially for people of color,” said Karlee Gordon ‘24. “It took many years for American Horror Story to see this representation, so I’m glad that it’s going in the right direction.”
While there have been transgender characters incorporated in the plot of the show, there were no transgender actors in any roles until Ross. Director Ryan Murphy acknowledges the future of transgender representation in film in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
“I think the day and age where you put a wig on a straight white man and say he’s trans is over,” said Murphy. “…It’s such a huge community of people who don’t have opportunities and are desperate to be a part of Hollywood.”