Pose stars Dominique Jackson, Billy Porter and Mj Rodriguez share how the hit show changed them forever

Blanca resting her head on Pray Tell's shoulder, who is crying

The defiant, unapologetic Pose has allowed its queer and trans stars to “dream the impossible”, Billy Porter, Dominique Jackson and Mj Rodriguez have reflected.

Pose returns for its third and final season, with the closing chapter bringing the ballroom drama into the ’90s with love, legacy, heartbreak and an unforgettable history lesson.

Among other things, the final season sees Billy Porter’s character Pray Tell delving back into his past as HIV threatens to cut short his future.

Porter said an emotional goodbye to the character during a press conference on Monday (26 April), telling PinkNews and other outlets: “I got into this business in the ’80s. I just turned 51 last year. I turned 50 the day before I won an Emmy Award for Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series.

“There was never, ever a space in my brain to dream what Pose is, what Pray Tell is.

“I spent the first 25-plus years of my career trying to fit into a masculinity construct that society placed on us so I could eat. Pose, and Pray Tell in particular, really taught me to dream the impossible.”

“I say this all the time. And I just, you know, finished watching the season finale, so I’m very emotional. But the idea that the little, Black church sissy from Pittsburgh is now in a position of power in Hollywood in a way that never existed before. You can damn sure believe that I will be wielding that power and there will be a difference and a change in how things go from here on out.”

His words were echoed by his cast mates, including Mj Rodriguez (Blanca Evangelista).

Mj Rodriguez as Blanca.

Mj Rodriguez as Blanca. (Eric Liebowitz/FX)

“For so long, especially when it comes to Black, people of colour, especially when it comes to trans women, we’ve always felt like we had to be quiet or we couldn’t speak up. We’d have to just show up,” Rodriquez said. “But with this show, it’s taught me, and to the next project that I go into, that I take up the space that I need to but also be accountable for the space I need to hold for the other people as well and do it to the best ability that I can. And if someone is not able to understand that, then I have to just keep doing what I do and make sure that I do it the best that I can do it.”

Dominique Jackson (Elektra) added: “For me personally, I will never, ever, ever walk into a space thinking that I need to impress them. I need to be a professional. I need to know my worth. I will never walk into a space being fearful of my identity stopping me from anything. Because of this journey, when I walk into spaces now, my identity is not because I’m an abomination.

Dominique Jackson as Elektra.

Dominique Jackson as Elektra. (Pari Dukovic/FX)

“My identity is a plus. My identity is my value. So, when I walk into spaces now, they need to impress me. You can be the biggest Hollywood director, producer, whatever, but you’re not going to take my story or relay stories that are reflective of my life or my existence and make them into anything you want. …

“They need to impress me. They need to let me know that my existence has value, acknowledge me, validate me. And that is something that this has taught me. I will not be that fearful woman anymore. I will not be afraid to lose. I will not be afraid to fight.”

Billy Porter credited the team behind Pose with teaching the cast “how to fish”.

“Remember that old saying: You don’t give somebody the food, you teach them how to fish so they can do it for themselves. That’s the gift of this – of this, of being in this space, is that we’ve all now been empowered to go out and continue. I’m going to steal from vice president Harris: You know, we may the first, but we’re definitely not going to be the last.”

Pose season three premieres with two episodes on Sunday (2 May) on FX in the US. A UK air date has not been confirmed.