After landing Patti LuPone in Season 2, “Pose” co-creator and executive producer Steven Canals is continuing to dream big when it comes to the industry icon he’d want to join the cast of the groundbreaking FX series next.
“One person who I would love to see would be Janet Jackson,” Canals told Variety’s Marc Malkin Thursday night, while appearing in a panel discussion during the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP)’s 21st Annual Media Summit, held virtually for the first time due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “Janet Mock and I both love Janet, we talk about her quite a bit. And she acts and she sings and she dances. And I don’t know if she would come in and just join a house or what, but how fun would that be?”
“There are so many people I would love to see on our show. Angela Bassett, I love and I know she’s on ‘911’ and has a relationship in the Ryan Murphy world but she would be fantastic,” Canals continued. “I love Zendaya, I think she’s great, [but] she’s on ‘Euphoria.’ I keep picking people who already have shows.”
“I’m going to say her name anyway just because I love her and just watching her but I love Rita Moreno. I think she’s great. She’s on ‘One Day at a Time,’ but you know,” he added. “She would be really good to play Lil Papi’s grandma, I would love her as like the abuelita. Wouldn’t she be great? Now I’m really thinking about people my parents love, like Esai Morales is a really good one. … There’s lots of folks that I think could be really fun.”
And with the widespread audience and critical praise the FX series, it’s not hard to imagine that some of these superstars would consider the offer. But despite the series’ unequivocal success, Canals believes only time will tell if “Pose” has a lasting impact on the prevalence of diverse storytelling and LGBTQ representation in Hollywood.
“I think we are still in it, so it’s hard to identify whether there is any real significant change,” Canals explained. “This is an industry that is very self-congratulatory and I have a really hard time patting myself on the back over the success of the show, because at least from my position, I don’t know that it’s led to any significant shifts in terms of queer and trans content and representation. I feel like the folks I’m talking to are still grappling with systemic racism and homophobia and transphobia and sexism, and women are still dealing with misogyny.”
Canals indicated that he had adopted a new outlook when it comes to fighting for the inclusion of marginalized voices in the entertainment industry. “Where I was feeling like I was someone who always felt like I had to fight for a seat at the table, my attitude has significantly shifted after the first season of ‘Pose,’ where my attitude is, ‘If you don’t want me at your table, then I don’t want a seat there,’” Canals said. “I’m just going build my own table.”
He continued, “As opposed to trying to convince the gatekeepers of giving us an opportunity, those of us who are in positions of power like myself, those that have the ability to hire just have to be really intentional about our hiring practices. So, it means that I have the responsibility now to hold that door open to let more Afro-Latinx, and Latinx and Black and women and LGBTQ people into the room. I can’t complain about not seeing more people who look like me or hold my identities in the room, if I’m not holding that door open to let them come in.”
Having won an uphill battle to bring “Pose” to the small screen (which included unsuccessfully pitching the show 167 times before it was picked up by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk), Canals, who is Afro-Latinx, described NALIP’s mission to advance the careers of Latinx creatives within the industry as ‘”critically important.” “The reality is that we haven’t really seen the tipping point when it comes to content for people of color at all but definitely not for the Latinx community,“ Canals said. He cited the recent cancellations of Latinx-led shows “Vida” and “Party of Five” as evidence that real progress has yet to be made.
Production on the Manhattan-set show’s highly anticipated third season was halted about a week into shooting back in March when New York City, along with the majority of the world, was shut down by the pandemic. With the hard-hit city only just entering Phase 2 of reopening, Canals is predicting that “Pose” won’t resume filming this year.
“At this point I think everyone is slowly eking towards starting, but I think there are a lot of questions around production and how to go back into production safely,” Canals explained. “I’ve been telling people that I don’t anticipate us going back until 2021. It feels like it’s going to take that long to get it right, but who knows?”