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‘Pose’ Star Indya Moore Reflects on ‘Empathizing’ With Angel

Indya Moore got their start as a model before turning attention to film and television. After standout work in independent films (such as “Saturday Church”), Moore landed the role of Angel in FX’s ballroom culture period drama. Many of Moore’s first season scenes focused on exploring Angel’s relationship with white-collar Stan (Evan Peters), but in the sixth episode, entitled “Love Is the Message,” Angel had to explain that relationship to his wife (Kate Mara), allowing Moore to show off a new kind of strength.

Moore: “It all started with me being invited to participate as a background person in ‘The Get Down.’ An old friend whose name is Jeremy Rivera, who’s a member of the House of Xtravaganza, told the house father, Jose Xtravaganza, that I would be meeting him there. We connected, and he made me a house member right then and there.

“The House of Xtravaganza is the reason why all of this happened, but meeting [my manager] Lisa Calli as a part of being part of the house led me to being a part of ‘Pose.’ She referred me to the casting. I originally auditioned for Blanca, but they wanted me for Angel.

“Stepping into her character I connected with her and empathized with her story, too. I just knew that my life was going to change, and I was ready for it.

“My audition scene [for Angel] was the one in the diner with Stan when he’s saying he sees her as a real woman and she says she’s not just going to be reaching for scraps under the table. I related to that — being in the shadows, expected to pick from low-hanging fruit, coming from a space of not having anything. Angel stepping into her power — ‘This is what I need from you’ — that was really powerful and beautiful.

“I never took acting classes, so I think my process was a lot more heady and method. It was a lot of emotional and psychological work for me to place myself in the environment that she existed in, but when you step into a character, you live in them, and you live like them, for whatever the scene is or whatever story you’re being called to tell.

“It was really interesting to be somewhat interrogated by Patty — because that’s crazy, right? Here you are, fooling around with this guy and developing an emotional relationship with him and all of a sudden his wife is like, ‘Hey we need to talk!’

“I was really excited that Janet Mock was directing it also. What was interesting to me was there was a connection that Angel and Patty had at certain points. They weren’t pulling each other by the hair; it felt very human.

“Angel has a very genuine relationship to her own identity. She doesn’t have a concept of hiding who she is or feeling like she has to be secretive about it. So she told Patty why she was at the ball and says, ‘I’m a transsexual.’ I think that was also a really incredible moment because Angel said it so nonchalantly and so boldly and so. ‘This is who I am and that’s just what it is.’

“Hearing Angel say that wasn’t enough; Patty wanted to see her genitals and Angel refused because Angel is not her genitalia. We’re indoctrinated to understand each other’s identity based on the genitals we were born with, but gender and identity is much more nuanced and complex than that.

“Women have always wanted to not be defined by their sex parts and their reproductive systems. In the ’60s when women were in the street protesting for equality, one of the main points that women were making was that they’re more than their genitalia, and I think this story, and trans women, do an excellent job just by existing to prove that and to affirm that reality.”

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