Modern-Day Wonder Woman
You may know her as Candy Johnson-Ferocity on FX’s Pose, or as “Nurse Rita”/Donna Chambers on American Horror Story: 1984, but Angelica Ross is so much more. At the forefront of the movement for transgender and racial equality, she is leading the way.
In 2014, Ross founded TransTech Social Enterprises – to provide education, support, and jobs for trans people facing high levels of discrimination – which has not only helped support many LGBTQ individuals, but it has also been a pivotal point for her personal development. “They always say, ‘The teacher learns as much, if not more, than the students,’” she says. “So for me, it has been quite the education in being a better leader, a more intersectional leader, and learning that I can never be too inclusive.” TransTech Social Enterprises has been able to leverage technology to continue supporting its members during the COVID-19 pandemic through their G.R.O.W. with TransTech meetings via Zoom.
In 2019, Ross concluded the role of Candy on Pose, a television series that explores life for gay, trans, and gender non-conforming individuals in New York City’s ballroom community in the mid-1980s, as Candy, a transgender woman, met a heartbreaking end when she was killed by a client in a motel room. The scene shed light on the dangers trans women of color have faced for decades. “It took a huge emotional toll on me playing Candy’s final moments. The best way I could describe my state of mind is, I was in a constant state of prayer,” she shares. “I prayed and prayed and prayed, ‘Please let this show, let this episode, let this performance change hearts and change minds to put a stop to killings against Black trans women.’”
Although Ross has facilitated imperative progress for equality, the fight still continues. “As a country, we are broken. It is going to take ‘we the people’ to fix it, all of us,” she adds. “And yes, we’ve made some progress, but we still have more people to reach.” According to her, listening with an open mind is one of the first steps for change. “Listen to Black trans women, and listen to Black trans men, and listen to Black non-binary people because these are the folks who, within the Black experience, have been pushed to the sidelines,” she says. “They’re not considered mainstream identities within the Black community, and those are the identities you need to hear from.”
Ross will continue her tremendous work as an activist while working on American Horror Story and even recording some new music. “I’m just continually keeping myself in a creative space so that when it’s time to sort of show your work to the world, when it’s ready, folks will know that I’ve been in the background preparing for this moment,” she affirms.
Writer: Grace Callahan
Photographer & Videographer: Katie Coon
Editor: Eiko Watanabe
Special thanks to EPK Media (@myepk & @epkmedia - epkmedia.com)