How the casting director behind Pose assembled the largest transgender cast on television

When Dominique Jackson—aka Elektra abundance on the Ryan Murphy–produced FX hit, Pose—tried out for the role of a transgender matriarch of New York’s underground ball culture scene, she’d never played a major role on TV before. Still, having lived some of the same experiences as Elektra, she nailed it. “Jaws were on the floor,” says veteran casting director Alexa L. Fogel, who helped shape such indelible characters as Russell “Stringer” Bell (Idris Elba in The Wire) and Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles (Brian Tyree Henry in Atlanta). For Pose, which premiered last summer and focuses on the black and Latino queer community at voguing and ballroom competitions in the 1980s, Fogel assembled the largest group of openly trans actors ever to appear on a series, many of whom were in front of a camera for the first time. “When anybody came in to audition, we had a real conversation in which they told their story,” says Fogel, who was less interested in their credentials than their ability to connect emotionally with the characters. Thanks to Fogel’s efforts, Murphy ended up adding five additional roles to the show.

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