By Dino-Ray Ramos GLAAD.org | October 25, 2022
Many were first introduced to actress Angelica Ross as the scene-stealing Candy Ferocity in the groundbreaking Emmy-winning FX series Pose. Now, Ross’s career trajectory has skyrocketed with roles in American Horror Story and most recently, she made history with her Broadway debut in Chicago as the first openly trans actress stepping into the iconic role of Roxy Hart.
Even before her Pose days, Ross was doing the work for LGBTQ representation. She founded TransTech Social Enterprises, an organization that focuses on empowering trans people in the workplace and beyond. With Ross at the helm and E.C. Pizarro III as executive director, they are using the platform to host a special networking event in New York City on Saturday, October 29 where participants will have the opportunity to watch Ross in a matinee performance of Chicago which will be followed by a Q&A with the actress.
Marking her first time on the Broadway stage, Ross started her run on Chicago at the Ambassador Theater in New York City on September 12 and the limited engagement continues through November 6. GLAAD’s Anthony Allen Ramos spoke to Ross and Pizarro about the special event and the impact of trans visibility on the Broadway stage.
“It’s been great,” said an Ross in regards to her Broadway debut. She appreciates the love outside the theater from people who are Pose and American Horror Story fans, but she is also getting love from old ladies and people from Hungary and Poland. “The enthusiasm in their joy has just been contagious. To feel the audience’s energy every night has just been an incredible experience.”
Pizarro has been with TransTech since 2017 and he said it is really exciting to see Ross living her dream that she set forth with the organization: to learn different skills and use tech as a way to achieve your dream whether its tech or not. “Angelica is the blueprint,” Pizarro stated. “She [went] from Wisconsin to tech to Broadway – who could write that story?”
Ross admits she is exhausted and has been metering her voice because of the sheer volume of performances she does a week – but she remains grateful and in good spirits. As the first openly trans woman in the role of Roxy on Broadway and the demanding schedule, it would seem that Ross has a lot on her plate. When it comes to endurance, she tells Ramos handles it by focusing.
“I just try to focus on the work,” said Ross. “Sheryl Lee Ralph honestly said that in one of her clips recently when she was talking about her Emmy nomination before she actually won.”
She continued to say that you can’t necessarily look to being in history-making positions and accolades. Ross said this is all great, but for her, it’s important how she models these moments. “[It’s about] staying connected to community, focusing on the work, showing up and being qualified for the role so that audiences walk away entertained and enthusiastic as anyone else who has taken the role before. So to be able to do that, to me, has been an accomplishment. And to have my community witness it has been an affirmation.”
For the October 29th event at the Spritz New York, Pizarro said that the community will be able to network before going to see a matinee of Chicago where a hundred trans people will be able to watch Ross perform. Afterwards, there will be a talkback with Ross and Pizarro moderated by author and activist Hope Giselle.
“It’s really a time to tap in and to ask those questions that the people want to know,” said Pizarro. “As [Ross] said earlier, being qualified and ready for that opportunity is something that is preached highly in TransTech. I can say that I’m a product of that. I came as a volunteer and now five years later, I’m the executive director. That’s because when the opportunity presented itself, I had already done the work to step into this role.” There will also be discounted tickets available for the matinee performance of Chicago available here.
Ross is excited to have an audience of a hundred TransTech members see Chicago. She normally feels and hears the presence of LGBTQ folks in the audience, but this time around she said that she will have to brace herself for the overwhelming love and presence of the community.
“There are two things that I want people to walk away with [from the event] and one is understanding that anything is possible,” said Ross. “I want them to actually feel that in the room. Secondly, I want them to hear the authenticity in my answers…the way that I’ve had to live in these past few weeks — to be able to do this has been very much about dedication, conditioning and a lot of discipline.”
As mentioned, Ross keeps it real and said that performing as Roxy night after night is not easy. Audiences may see her perform effortlessly from beginning to end, but they don’t see her lose her breath between numbers and how there are some days that she just sleeps all day to recuperate from a five-show weekend. “[I want] to talk about the realities of success so people don’t have these fairytale visions of what it looks like to achieve success.”