In less than a decade, Janet Mock has gone from working at People magazine to becoming one of the most powerful and prominent trans women working in Hollywood. The prolific writer, director, producer, and trans advocate also just so happens to be Out’s latest cover star.
Mock talked with Executive Editor Raquel Willis for the story, revealing how she started her current relationship with Angel B. Curiel of FX’s Pose, where Mock made history as the first Black trans woman to work as a TV staff writer. Mock says the actor — who plays Lil' Papi on the groundbreaking 1980s ballroom drama — has helped her to be more open, and she welcomes the change of pace. “I wanted more of that challenge and that feeling and that connection,” she told Willis.
The two also talked about everything from her career to dealing with detractors in the wide-ranging interview. Read more about Out’s cover star below.
1. Mock is dating Pose star Angel Bismark Curiel.
Curiel plays dreamboat Lil’ Papi on the FX drama, and he let Mock know he was interested after they wrapped an episode she directed. At the time, her marriage was coming to a close, and while she wasn’t thinking about starting a new relationship, Curiel piqued her interest. Now the two can be seen posting cute couples photos on Instagram, holding hands on red carpets, and Mock also showed up to the Out interview wearing diamond earrings gifted by her new beau.
“You have to be vulnerable in that way all the time, and unafraid,” she told Willis for Out’s cover story, “That’s something that I’ve learned through this relationship.”
2. Her first memoir, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity & So Much More was a bestseller.
Three years after first coming out as a trans woman via an as-told-to piece in Marie Claire, Mock was able to clarify some things she felt the magazine got wrong in her 2014 memoir, Redefining Realness, which debuted on the New York Times Bestseller List for Hardcover Nonfiction. For instance, the publication titled the piece “I Was Born a Boy,” a headline Mock never felt was accurate. She explained that she’s always been a girl, despite what doctors said at her birth.
The memoir also discussed her childhood in Hawaii, growing up as a gender non-conforming child in poverty raised by a single mother, and her romance with then-husband Aaron Tredwell. Mock and Tredwell divorced in February, and Mock says moving on from that relationship has helped her find new priorities in life.
“I was like, ‘OK, I can’t live for what others want. That’s not what I’m here for,’” she told Willis.
3. She’s always loved TV and has been hugely influenced by it.
Growing up in Hawaii, Mock watched Living Single, Family Matters, and Total Request Live in order to see Black women like herself on screen. “Some of my most pivotal moments rose from pop culture,” she said in her memoir, “As a child who grew up in front of the television, I spent my adolescence blanketed in images from the late-nineties pop boom.”
Now she’s excited to use her own experiences to create those same kind of stories for a new generation of Black and trans women. She’s excited to tell a wide range of diverse stories, telling Wills: “I am a woman; I can write women’s stories. I’m a Black person; I can write Black stories. I am a trans person; I can write queer and trans stories.”
4. Even after years of hard-earned success, Mock still has to deal with doubters and haters.
Despite being in the writers room at Pose and directing several of the series’ best episodes, many people seem to think she’s just a "name" attached to the show — or at best — a consultant. This kind of dismissal hurts, but Mock doesn’t let it get her down and recognizes her part in a greater narrative of Black women working in Hollywood.
“Historically, it’s always the same way with Black women and our contributions,” she said. “It’s like people don’t want to give proper due or just undervalue or underestimate the work that you do.”
5. She’s the first out trans woman to secure an overall deal for a network.
Back in July, Netflix tapped Mock for a three-year exclusive rights deal for television and a first-look option on feature films. As of now, her upcoming projects include executive producing and directing on Ryan Murphy’s shows The Politician and Hollywood, a show “about a young trans woman” in college; another about post-slavery New Orleans; and a “reboot of a classic sitcom.”
But Mock isn’t satisfied just writing or directing a few episodes here and there. “The ambition in me is wanting to create something that truly is my own,” she said, “where I am the creator and showrunner, and it all fully comes from me.”
We can’t wait to find out more.