'Pose' Producer/Director Janet Mock Calls Out Hollywood for Undervaluing Trans Talent

Sunday May 2, 2021
Originally published on May 1, 2021

In all the talk about economic wage gaps amongst various demographics, The Conversation reported this week "that wage gap that tends to be overlooked — between heterosexuals and LGBTQ people."

This was underscored on Thursday night at the "Pose" premiere in New York City when series' executive producer/director and trans activist Janet Mock scorched Hollywood's treatment of the trans community, making it personal in calling out the show's producers by asking, "Why am I making $40,000 an episode? Huh?"

She continued, reported Page Six. "I am angry!," she said, demanding more money and perks equal to other TV executives.

Her 15-minute speech, wrote the Daily Beast, was "a remarkable, at times uncomfortable and messy, and possibly industry-changing speech."

"Fuck Hollywood," she said early on "This makes you uncomfortable? It should. It should make you fucking shake in your motherfucking boots. This is speaking the truth. This is what 'Pose' is."

Her speech took place in the first of its kind, socially distanced event in New York City in more than a year at Jazz at Lincoln Center. "Attendees included the show's cast — each dressed in jaw-dropping red carpet wear — and creative team, FX executives, and a few dozen critics and journalists, all individually escorted to seats dotted across the auditorium. A theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center has never looked so sparsely occupied. But also, after these last 15 months, so full," added the Daily Beast.

One reason why Monk's speech shocked audience is her glass-half empty attitude. Instead of praising "Pose" for its representation of the trans community, she "called out those who capitalized on their stories without paying them what they're owed," the Daily Beast wrote.

Monk started her speech in tears, before she took the handheld mic and paced back and forth as if delivering a sermon. "This is what Pose taught me," she began. "I stand up taller in the world because of this show. I know that I matter because of this show. I have a voice because of this show."

But she said that her "happy" attitude was really just a pose. "I'm hurting, y'all. I see injustice and it hurts me inside."

"She singled out cast members Hailie Sahar, Dominique Jackson, Angelica Ross, and Mj Rodriguez, toasting their talent and shaming everyone who undervalued or underestimated them because they were pretty or inexperienced," reported the Daily Beast.

"At her most passionate, she demanded to know why she wasn't paid more for her work. 'Why am I making $40,000 a motherfucking episode? Huh? Do you know who the fuck I am? Do you know what I fucking mean? Huh? I am angry. This is truth. This is motherfucking truth.'"

She ended by mocking the line: "It means so much to everyone to ensure that we enable Black and brown trans women to make it..."

"That sounds good, right?" she said. "It makes you comfortable, me talking like that. Because then I don't scare you into facing the fucking truth: You all have stomped on us."

On a more personal note, she acknowledged she'd had slept with someone in the show's crew, and asked her "Pose" actor boyfriend Angel Bismark Curiel not to leave her over the infidelity, Page Six reported.

"A visibly shaken Mock admitted that she was afraid the forthright speech might have ruined her career, though some in the room had her back, such as Jackson, who shouted from the audience, 'Thank you for speaking for me!'," added Page Six. A scheduled appearance on "Good Morning America" on Friday was canceled after the speech.

In his remarks "Pose's" creator and executive producer Steven Canals, who said he took 166 meetings in Los Angeles trying to get "Pose" made. It wasn't until 167th, with producer Ryan Murphy, did the show get made.

"It is not lost on me that, as a cis man, my career and this story is built on the backs of Black and Afro-Latinx trans women who have told the best story of all. So thank you, especially, to the women of our show."