There have been very few shows that have been able to cover so much ground in only a few seasons. Somehow, FX’s groundbreaking television series Pose has been able to do that and more—giving audience’s an important history lesson about lives of Black & Brown trans women in the ballroom scene and what their legacy has afforded the LGBTQ+ community.
However, it should go without saying that there is a bigger message that the show’s creator wanted to tell, a message that will come to a close after season three. EBONY contributor Doctor Jon Paul sat down with series co-creator Steven Canals to talk about the impact of the show and what they hope viewers will garner with the show’s final chapter.
DJP: There have been so many wonderful things that have come out of this show. What would you say has made you most proud?
SC: That’s a great question. I think that one of them for sure is hearing from young, queer and trans people. They have seen their sisters, their family members on screen, but they now have the ability to reach for those dreams as well. Because LGBTQ+ Black and Brown people really have to work to see themselves represented positively in mainstream media. So being a part of a team that is so intersectional, that for me, is worth the price of gold.
DJP: What are some other standout moments that have happened for you both in front and behind the camera?
SC: It was when I directed the series finale. It was such a full circle moment. I very, very vividly recall being at Video Village when Ryan Murphy was directing the season premiere and so now three seasons later—for me to be the person to wrap up the story, not solely on the page, but also filming—it was just really surreal. Like I said, I think it’s something that is an experience that I am still processing and it will always be with me.
DJP: You talk a lot about intent vs. impact in you work and we can see how intentional you’ve been about redefining the queer experience on television. Would you say the impact has been exactly what you’ve wanted?
SC: Well, I think it’s both. I think that this show has impacted those who we always intended for it to impact. But there is still so much more work to be done and so many more people to reach. We want the show to impact everyone. We need privileged identities to understand the messaging of the show, which is that these lives have value. It’s frightening to me to think that we’re in a place where trans and non-binary folks are still having to fight for their existence and fight for their lives. While I can appreciate what Pose means to people, the work isn’t done.
DJP: Considering what we have gone through in the last few years, what thoughts should viewers keep in mind as they watch season three? Is there anything specific that viewers should give attention to?
SC: In the season three series finale, we very directly address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We also very specifically address what is happening in our country right now. So if there’s anything for the viewers to pay attention to and to take away from this season is that in solidarity our voices matter too. We absolutely have the ability to push our government, push our elected officials. We have to let them know that we have and need rights as well.
DJP: How has this show changed you as an individual? As a creator?
SC: I think the way that the show has changed me is that in writing these characters who have had nothing other than their will, determination, love and support of one another and managed to make a way out of no way, has so deeply impacted me and my life. And if there is one thing I will always take away from knowing and loving these characters is to never dim my own shine. Not for anyone. Living with these characters has completely changed how I see myself. It’s changed how I see the world. I take strength from their strength.
DJP: What advice would you give to young LGBTQ+ Black/Brown youth + people who take solace in this show and it’s narrative?
SC: I want them to know that they deserve to take up space. Know that your life has value. I want them to know that we need them here. Don’t let anything or anyone rob you of your existence. I don’t care if it’s family or the country. I also want them to know that there are people out there who will help keep you lifted. Find the people who are going to lift you up. Find the people who are going to support you and who are going to believe in you. We’re going to celebrate with you. We’re going to love you. And then continue to shine brightly.
DJP: There is so much pressure for Black & Brown, LGBTQ+ people to be successful in the industry and I think that can often get into your head. So I want to ask this last question with care. What’s next for Mr. Canals?
SC: So in full disclosure, what you just asked is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot for a couple of months now. When I wrote the first draft of Pose, I did not create this show saying, “I’m going to write a hit”. Or, “I’m going to write a show that is going to be historic. That’s going to win lots of awards”. It really came down to two simple notions. It was being told by my writing professor at the time, Neil Landau, to, ‘Write the show that you want to watch”. Where I’m at now is that I just want to get back to that place of, where are there gaps? What is the show that I would want to watch? I’m working to get back to that place.
Pose season 3 will premiere Sunday, May 2 on FX.