How Janet Mock & POSE Are Rewriting LGBT History

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Brendan Haley

Hollywood television mogul Ryan Murphy and powerhouse journalist, writer, and director/producer Janet Mock sat down on the 20th Century Fox lot last night to discuss their collaboration on FX's POSE.

Murphy, who has long stood as a champion of LGBT rights. as well as a countless other "hurting" communities, aimed to make POSE—a narrative taking place in New York City during the AIDS crisis of the '80s—a show that would remain an inclusive spotlight for people of color, especially trans people of color (a community which still bears hardships in the present day).

"Directing was never on my list of things, I didn’t think it was a possibility,” said Mock. But after a quick read of Mock's memoir, Redefining Realness, Murphy knew Janet would be the perfect addition to the team.

With Mock, an aspiring transgender director/writer/producer, at the helm with Murphy, the pair hired five trans women of color as series regulars and hundreds of transgender actors and crew, making LGBT history with the show, and for Murphy, "without question the highlight of my career."

Mock produced the sixth episode of POSE, titled "Love is the Message," as an intimate look between the relationship of a couple struggling with AIDS in their last days together, and the themes of family as disease shakes all the lives in proximity—particularly the trans characters of Blanca and Angel. Directing an episode encompassing these struggles, as well as the unwavering theme of family and sense of community, was always going to draw out Mock's own personal resonance.

"A lot of the conversations that the women have about their desires, their dreams, their bodies, love, hope, romance, all of that stuff, is channeled through my experience. All the things I didn’t have, Angel (Indya Moore) has access to," Mock said.

"How I got here was through writing about myself, through telling the truth, through committing to telling my story," she continued. "My book is the first book I’ve ever seen written by a trans person of color, in terms of trans memoir. So that’s how it all started. And I think that book got to Ryan in some way, and he saw something there, and he said, 'Leave the world of books and come to TV.'"

"For so long the business has been controlled by straight white men over 50 who like to reward and mentor the vision that they see, which is themselves," said Murphy. Janet Mock, with her unique vision and sheer audacity to jump head first into positions of power for the betterment trans storytelling is not only admirable, it is necessary for television's survival.

POSE airs on Sunday nights at 9pm on FX. Catch the trailer in the video below!

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