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Drag Race alum Carmen Carrera accuses Janet Mock of stealing her real life for Pose storyline

'Drag Race' alum Carmen Carrera accuses Janet Mock of stealing her real life for 'Pose' storyline

Carmen Carrera and Janet Mock
Courtesy of Instagram

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RuPaul’s Drag Race star Carmen Carrera has publicly accused Janet Mock and the Pose team of stealing her real life story for the series. On Wednesday morning, Carrera responded to this tweet which referred to Janet Mock as “the most powerful TG [transgender] woman in the planet,” Mock is an author and trans activist. She also served as a writer, director, and executive producer of Pose.

Carrera responded, writing, “Sometimes with power comes oppression… like how Janet & her writing team completely ripped off my real life storyline for Angel’s character on Pose. I was always curious why Pose had 3 seasons & the biggest trans cast but had no spots for me.” In the next tweet in the thread, she continues, “They made it seem in the media that it was the Tracy Norman story, however so many elements, twists & turns, didn’t match and the fans noticed it throughout. I mean listen, you want rip my story off at least pay a girl”.

Pose was an FX television series that ran for three season from June 2018 to June 2021 created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Steven Canals. It follows a group of trans women and their houses in the 1980s/‘90s New York City ballroom scene. Pose disrupted the television status quo by having the largest cast of trans actors ever, including Angelica Ross, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Dominique Jackson, and Indya Moore.

Moore’s character Angel spends the first two seasons of the show persistently pursuing a modeling career, and does so to some success until she is outed and dropped by her agencies. This storyline takes heavy inspiration from the real life of Tracey Norman. Norman was a fashion model, the first Black trans woman to have a successful modeling career, until she was outed by her hairdresser’s assistant during a photoshoot. Like Angel, she was dropped and struggled to find modeling work after being outed as a trans woman, but here their stories diverge.

In recent years, Norman has had a tremendous comeback, including returning to model for Clairol 30 years after becoming the first trans model on a hair-color box (her original box can be seen below). While that fact was unbeknownst to the company at the time, they welcomed back Norman for a shoot in 2016, now out and proud.

Angel, however, did not return to similar success. Instead, her character’s arc in season 3 revolved around marrying her longtime partner Lil Papi (Angel Bismark Curiel) and becoming a stepmom to Lil Papi’s 5-year-old son, Beto.

This, Carrera claims, is what was drawn from her life without compensation or credit.

Carrera, like Angel, is a stepparent. She and her husband, Adrian Torres, married in 2015 while on the reality TV show Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn. She became the first the first trans person to wed on reality TV, and said to Peopleabout the wedding, “Celebrating our love and what we call our ‘modern, modern family,’ lets us know that we belong here and that we also have a place to raise a family of our own on our terms. We feel truly blessed.” Carrera is the stepmom to Torres’s two daughters, whom she considers as her own.

When speaking to Entertainment Weekly about her accusations against Mock and the Pose creative team, Carrera also mentions that along with her very public wedding and family structure, she had also been reached out to by the Pose casting team. “Season 2 gets cast, Jiggly [Caliente] and [Peppermint] get on the show and they begin promoting the show as the biggest trans cast on TV,” she said to EW.Jiggly Caliente and Peppermint are also both trans women and RuPaul’s Drag Race alums. She continues, “We never heard back about my participation on season 2, but my manager at the time said they would eventually cast me when they could find a part for me since they were casting so many people.” Not only was never cast for seasons 2 or 3 of the show, but says the casting representatives “went completely ghost” in regards to her participation or any potential role.

After her interview with EW, Carrera was further frustrated by the situation. She claimed in another tweet, “The writer of this article reached out to me directly in my inbox, and this is what I said. It seems very obvious to me that this article was written to gaslight readers into thinking that I’m delusional or bitter about not getting a role. Which is not true. I have my receipts.” She then provided screenshots of their interaction.

Further down the thread, she also attached the script for the role she had auditioned for, and the tape she submitted.

Carmen Carrera and Tracey Norman may not be the only real inspirations for storylines of Pose. Dominique Jackson’s character Elektra has a storyline about a John’s accidental death on her watch and the subsequent hiding of his body draws pays very direct homage to Dorian Corey. Corey was a trans trailblazer who is known best for her part in the canonical documentary Paris is Burning. She is known second best for having hid a dead body in a trunk in her closet that was found only after she had died.

Obviously inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere, and if you want to tell a story authentically it makes sense to pull as much from real life as you can. Given all that, I think Carrera’s feelings on this situation were best put when she said, “I’m all for telling the community’s stories and being accurate and true, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of the real people who actually lived the story.”

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Rowan Ashley Smith

Rowan Ashley Smith has often been described as "a multi-hyphenate about town." He loves work that connects him to his cultures as a gay, Jewish, multiracial trans man. Before breaking into journalism, the best days of his professional life were spent as a summer camp professional, a librarian, and an HIV prevention specialist. His work has been featured in GO Magazine, pride.com, and The Advocate. In what is left of his free time, Rowan enjoys performing stand up comedy, doing the NYT crossword, and spending time with his two partners, two children, and four cats.

Rowan Ashley Smith has often been described as "a multi-hyphenate about town." He loves work that connects him to his cultures as a gay, Jewish, multiracial trans man. Before breaking into journalism, the best days of his professional life were spent as a summer camp professional, a librarian, and an HIV prevention specialist. His work has been featured in GO Magazine, pride.com, and The Advocate. In what is left of his free time, Rowan enjoys performing stand up comedy, doing the NYT crossword, and spending time with his two partners, two children, and four cats.