For the second year in a row, the transgender actresses of “Pose” have been shut out of the Emmy Awards. The popular series, created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Steven Canals, is the first major TV show to center around transgender women of color. Billy Porter, who took home the Emmy for Lead Actor in a Drama Series last year for his work as Pray Tell in the groundbreaking show, was again nominated in the same category. Porter, a Tony winner and longtime Broadway actor, is one of a handful of cisgender performers on the show. “Pose” also received four nominations across various hair and make-up categories.
A few of the show’s more prominent trans stars spoke out about the acting snubs via social media.
“I didn’t invent the Academy or any of the award shows,” Indya Moore, who plays Angel, tweeted. “If they think my work is unworthy Chile that’s just that. … Imagine if we depended on cis ppl to validate anything about us.”
Angelica Ross, who plays Candy on “Pose,” responded in an emotional video posted to her Instagram feed. She connected the Emmys exclusion to the broader issues in society, illuminating how systemic racism shows up in the entertainment industry.
“Ultimately, I need you to understand that I am so tired,” she said. “Because those of you that know me know that I’m not just working in front of the screen or behind the lens or whatever. I’m working around the clock to get our society to value trans lives and Black trans lives. And listen, I feel what I feel because I feel like there is nothing we can do.”
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Moore tweeted again the next day: “In this industry, winning GLAAD awards, Hispanic heritage awards, NAACP awards & BET awards isn’t enough to trigger a contract renegotiation & pay raise in the same way white award centered shows like Oscar’s, Emmys & GGs?”
Last tweet & I’m off because I have alot to process.
in this industry, winning glaad awards, Hispanic heritage awards, NAACP awards & BET awards isn’t enough to trigger a contract renegotiation & pay raise in the same way white award centered shows like Oscar’s, Emmys & GGs?
— 🌄 (@IndyaMoore) July 30, 2020
There is still cause for celebration, however, even if it’s not directly for the ladies of “Pose.”
This year, Rain Valdez became the second transgender performer ever to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy in an acting category. Valdez was nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for her work on “Razor Tongue,” a web series she created. Valdez follows in the footsteps of Laverne Cox, who became the first trans person to break that barrier in 2017 when she was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role in “Orange Is the New Black.” (Cox received a nomination in the same category in 2020.)
“My body is literally still shaking as I type this as I’m still in a bit of shock,” Valdez wrote on Instagram. “Being a Filipina American transgender woman in this category is an honor and a long time coming. There is so much talent in my communities. … Was moved to tears so many times yesterday but these posts really speak to the gravity of what this nomination means for me. I’m celebrating all of my identities with this nomination. My transgender identity and being AAPI.”
Valdez received a very heartfelt congratulatory video shoutout from Cox. The two actresses are good friends.
“I have to give a shoutout to Rain Valdez,” Cox said. “Rain Valdez, Rain Valdez, Rain Valdez. Congratulations, girl. So beautiful. I love you.”
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Just gonna put this on my feed so I can cherish forever. 🥰💖 Was moved to tears so many times yesterday but these posts really speak to the gravity of what this nomination means for me. 2nd transgender actor to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy as well as being the first Filipinx American? I ain’t mad about any of it and I’m celebrating all of my identities with this nomination. My transgender identity and being AAPI. And to my rockstar team @noweveraritsts that helped me make Razor Tongue, this is also a celebration of what we created, a recognition of our communities capabilities and competency, and I can’t wait to create more with all of you. 💖🙏🏽 @lavernecox thank you for this gift. I’ll cherish this video forever. And thank you for your continuous efforts to uplift and create space for all of us. @iamsandraohinsta broke barriers for us #AAPI girls with her Emmy win and I’m honored to be on this journey with her. @angelicaross gurl! You know how hard I live for you and your support means the world to me. If there is anyone more deserving of their flowers and more, it is you. I love you. #emmys #emmys2020 #razortongueshow
Valdez recently appeared in “Disclosure: Trans Lives Onscreen,” a history of trans representation in film and TV, which was executive produced by Cox. It’s currently streaming on Netflix. To see Valdez’s Emmy-nominated work, you can find Razor Tongue on YouTube.