Ryan Jamaal Swain
When Swain was in ninth grade, he had to prepare a monologue and audition in an after-school program called Make It Happen Youth Ensemble. “It was the first time where I felt seen,” he says. He chose to focus his work there on Harry Belafonte, whose career as a performer and social activist is one Swain has tried to emulate since. His role on “Pose” has allowed marginalized people of color the chance to see themselves fully “imagined and realized” on television, and he is also working on a teen fiction book about a “youth figuring out the highs and lows being from the South, being black and being queer.” “I’m all about providing conduits for deep traumatic healing for LGBTQ youth and youth of color,” he says. Of utmost importance to him when not performing is his work with It Gets Better, The Trevor Project and Stonewall Inn Gives Back.