Angelica Ross should be massively busy right now. And she is, but if it weren't for the global pandemic she would be even more so. The star, who had a breakout moment with her role as Candy Ferocity in Pose, reportedly had a full schedule of work lined up for 2020 but the state of the world has thrown that into disarray. Still, she's going full-steam ahead working on three shows in a production deal with Pigeon, an album, her ongoing work with her organization Trans Tech, and maybe a little dating.
Over the past two years Ross has shot to the forefront on a variety of issues including activism and politics. But having done so while also being a Black trans woman means that she has to be wary. Though she is here to "make an effect on the world," there are some concerns.
"Seeing all these Black trans women dying or the violence that happens, I sometimes worry about being out and about," she said in her new Self cover story. And while she isn't one for guns, she does plan on getting some sort of protection. "I am getting a Doberman, though, and I'm getting it trained to have that kind of protection."
But it's not just individual dangers that can stand in opposition to her community, there's also the systemic ones. Ross has been a strong voice in political circles, and she understands that carries a weight with it. So she's using it carefully.
"With Joe Biden, you do not have my endorsement," she said in the feature. "What you have is my commitment to hold you accountable to all of the things that we say we, the people need." And what people need is conversations around reproductive health for Black women, homelessness for queer and trans folks, mental health issues. and the education system.
Ross's role on Pose was lauded by audiences, but sadly didn't receive the nominations it deserved. But for Ross, it provided her a space to do her craft that was safe, with an understanding and an experienced team led partially by Janet Mock. This stood in contrast to some of her other experiences.
"There's nothing like experience," she said. "And what Hollywood has not had is a lot of experience with trans people. Though they have a lot of poor experience of telling trans stories. So there has been this learning curve on both sides of the situation. People don't hear me talk often about my experience of working on Claws. And there's a reason for it." Ross appeared on Claws in 2017. She played a character named Relevance for three episodes.
"The trauma I experienced on that set is a drastic difference from the support that I felt on the set of Pose," she continued. "Someone referred to me as 'he.'" While Ross did not reveal who misgendered her, it was only a part of the reprehensible experience she had.
"I had a scene that was dropped on me," she explained. "I knew the scene was coming and we had talked about it. I get to set and I'm now being asked to drop my underwear and wear a modesty garment—it’s basically this tape that goes from your front to your back. I was supposed to do a scene where I'm hovered over some guy and then flip off of him. It was one of the hardest things for me to do because I was pre-op. These garments aren't made for trans people." According to Ross, she wasn't sent a nudity rider which is the standard agreement signed around any nudity or sex scenes in film and television. Ross said the exerience on set did not leave her feelign "affirmed." Warner Brothers did not deny the incident, but did confirm on background that the scene described was filmd but did not air.
But now, Ross is calling the shots. She has three shows of her own in development: a scripted series called The Turning Point about our current moment in culture; a series following the movers and shakers in Atlanta; and Stilettos, a scripted series that follows Ross's own life story.
"I think people might forget this when they look at me now—they didn't see those nights where I was under a bridge waiting for the right car to pass by and slow down," she said. "Or when I was just all bank accounts, negative, and living with four other roommates, just all the different things that you go through to get to this space.
Well, whatever she has to share with us, we'll take.