“For me, art will always live in the intersection of education and entertainment and enlightenment,” says Canals, creator of “Pose.” When Canals was in high school, he worked on a documentary short about the gang violence that had become prominent in his New York City neighborhood. A classmate of his, and a co-producer on the project, was shot and killed soon after, and that had a huge impact on him. “The power of crafting that narrative and then engaging other people in the discourse around that narrative was transformative,” he says.
Canals studied cinema at Binghamton U., but ended up working in college administration for a few years before taking an online screenwriting course through UCLA that “opened up this incredible new outlet.” He subsequently went through UCLA’s MFA program, which was where he first drafted “Pose,” a tale about the trans community and ballroom culture in 1980s New York City.
“The fact that in the 1970s and ’80s, in the face of disease and violence and poverty, they could still be their authentic selves was so inspiring to me,” Canals says. In 2016, Canals connected with Sherry Marsh, who helped get the script into the hands of Ryan Murphy. Now he counts them, along with Brad Falchuk, as his mentors, and partners.
“Very early on in the process of working on ‘Pose,’ [Brad] pulled me aside and gave me a tutorial on working at Ryan Murphy Television to give me what I needed to be successful. And the most important thing that he said to me [was], ‘Remember, when you are writing on the page, you’re writing for you,’” Canals says. “’Don’t be afraid to inject and infuse the work with parts of yourself.’”
Legal: Felker Toczek Suddleson Abramson