JAMES strikes a POSE
Dawson’s back – with a very fabulous new role
Famed producer Ryan Murphy loves a musical as much as he loves an epic TV drama. And his latest series, starring James Van Der Beek and Kate Mara, is even more fabulous, dahling, as he goes from Glee to glam with Pose.
Already a smash hit in the US, Pose takes us behind the curtains and into the ballroom culture of the LGBTQ community in 1980s New York City – think Fame and Flashdance meets Rupaul’s Drag Race with extra frou-frou! And of course our fave ’80s tunes are a big deal – which means we
can sing and dance along. Fun!
“In the ball world of fashion and music, one does not exist without the other,” says executive producer Alexis Martin Woodall. “[Character] Elektra’s gold turban and kaftan could only have been accompanied by the Mother of them all, Miss Diana Ross.”
First of its kind
It’s not all funky tunes, frivolity and fashion though. The series, which has been picked up for a second season and is co-produced by American Horror Story’s Brad Falchuck, also features the largest recurring cast of transgender actors ever in a scripted TV series.
“This is a community who have just been starved for opportunities,” says Ryan. “You’ve seen it, usually in movies or television shows, trans actors play the best friend or they have a line or two, many times they’re murdered, but in this show they play the leads and they are the heroes and the heroines. It’s an amazing thing to see.”
Dominique Jackson, who plays supreme house mother Elektra Abundance, is proud to be part of a TV series that’s not only leading the charge in diversity, but is also exciting to watch.
“When I got the script and I read Elektra, I was like, ‘This is an honour that I can pay to women who have paved the way,’” says the transgender actress, who was a part of the real ballroom scene in the early ’90s. “And the women we get to portray... these women were fantastic, they were fabulous, they would wear furs to the grocery store. They were women with great poise, who held themselves to the highest of standards even though they were marginalised. So even when they went to ballroom, the way they represented, it was as though you were looking at kings and queens.”
Speaking of royalty, the show also explores those who were ruling Wall Street at the time, like Donald Trump, because the rise of the corporate world (and the greed and excess which accompanied it!) are as synonymous with the ’80s as crimping and shoulder pads.
Evan Peters takes on the role of Stan – a married Trump employee who becomes involved with transgender woman and ball competitor Angel ( Indya Moore).
“I loved the story, I loved the characters. But it was an opportunity to learn from the transgender community and to be an advocate for them,” says Evan, who’s worked with Ryan and Brad on American Horror Story. “The story is beautiful because it’s fun, but also heartbreaking and shows how marginalised they are and discriminated against. You fall in love with the characters, and hopefully that will instil compassion in people.”
And though you may find compassion for much of the cast, Evan’s character Stan won’t tug at your heart strings – not when he’s cheating on his wife Patty ( Kate Mara) and becoming power hungry over at Trump Tower. “Patty is a full-time housewife and mother who is very isolated in her world in Jersey, and very much in love with her husband,” says Kate. “Our lives are affected by this other world that my husband becomes involved with.”
From Capeside to the Big Apple
Stan works alongside ballbusting businessman and Trump’s “right-hand man” Matt Bromley, played by James Van Der Beek. Yep, that’s right – Dawson Leery has suited up and escaped the creek!
“I always have to shake it up. I can’t do the same thing more than twice without getting bored or going crazy,” says the actor, who admits that there is one major similarity between bigwig Matt and his old Dawson’s Creek character – the hair!
“I keep telling my wife, ‘Baby, I was hot the last time I had this haircut,’” he jokes.
But that’s where the likeness ends, coz Matt ain’t no good guy!
“I always try and create every character from scratch, but one of the crew members said, ‘This is like if [ The Rules of Attraction character] Sean Bateman grew up,’ and I was like, ‘If Sean Bateman grew up and stayed alive!’ [Laughs] But maybe there’s a little bit of that in there.
“Everybody says, ‘Oh, is it fun to play someone so bad?’” he adds. “And I’m always like, ‘Yeah, it’s going to be,’ until you get on your feet and you realise that very terrible people are very sad. There’s something in the architecture of this character that’s just really damaged.”
Despite the trauma that comes with playing a twisted character, James says exploring the two worlds makes for fascinating TV.
“We talk about the two realities happening in Manhattan at the time – one of them is the wealth, Trump-era real estate boom and the other is this ballroom community, and how these two communities existed at the exact same time in this little tiny island of Manhattan, and how they go up against each other.”
And while the communities clash, the explosion on screen, just like fireworks, is magical.
I keep telling my wife, ‘I was hot the last time I had this hair [on Dawson’s Creek]’
Pose premieres 8.30pm Tuesday September 11 on Showcase Introducing the most glamorous line-up, from left, Candy Abundance (Angelica Ross), Stan Bowes (Evan), Patty Bowes (Kate), Blanca Rodriguez (Mj Rodriguez) and Pray Tell (Billy Porter)