One might assume that with the increased visibility of Black trans women in Hollywood, the discrimination they face in this entertainment spaces no longer exists. But Hollywood, for all of its eccentricities is a microcosm of the real world. And all of the ignorance, inconsideration and degradation that exists for Black trans women in the real world, there are times when it seems into the Hollywood bubble.
Angelica Ross, known for her role as Candy Ferocity on “Pose,” shared that while the experience on that show was empowering and groundbreaking in terms of her career, the experience she had working on “Claws” was the opposite.
Recently, in an interview with Crissle West for Self magazine, Ross shared just a tip of some of the mistreatment she experienced on set.
Most of us came to know you through your Candy Ferocity character on Pose. What you did with Candy will never be forgotten. You made her alive and made the story mean so much to some of us who don’t have that experience. As a queer woman, I’m watching it like, ‘Ooh, I feel that. Yes, girl.’ I know that sometimes it can be hard dealing with critiques, but that’s what comes with being the first. With being the trailblazer. So many people feel seen who have never felt seen before. And so they put in a lot on you, but you are handling it beautifully.
You’ve said that when you first heard about Pose, you weren’t really worried about how trans women were going to be portrayed because Janet Mock was behind it. I would love to hear more about your support system of trans and nonbinary people in the industry who have been a source of safety or guidance or comfort.
There’s nothing like experience. And what Hollywood has not had is a lot of experience with trans people. Though they have a lot of poor experience of telling trans stories. So there has been this learning curve on both sides of the situation. People don’t hear me talk often about my experience of working on Claws. And there’s a reason for it.
The trauma I experienced on that set is a drastic difference from the support that I felt on the set of Pose. Someone referred to me as “he.”
I had a scene that was dropped on me. I knew the scene was coming and we had talked about it. I get to set and I’m now being asked to drop my underwear and wear a modesty garment—it’s basically this tape that goes from your front to your back. I was supposed to do a scene where I’m hovered over some guy and then flip off of him. It was one of the hardest things for me to do because I was pre-op. These garments aren’t made for trans people.
And now I’m asked to do something that should have had a nudity rider ahead of time, but it’s sprung on me. I did not receive a nudity rider in advance nor was there a general nudity rider to my knowledge. There were so many things that happened on that set where I just did not feel affirmed. It’s this women-led show and yet the trans woman on the show is feeling shitty. [Editor’s note: On background, a representative from Warner Bros. Television said a scene like the one Ross describes was filmed but did not air due to an issue with the overarching storyline. Warner Bros. Television did not provide additional comment about Ross’s time on the show.]
I actually had to take a vacation after that. I went to Miami. There was a moment where I’m walking down A1A and one guy’s like, “Oh, damn, baby, you fine,” and the next man is like, “That’s a mate.”
You can read the rest of Ross’ interview, here.