Angelica Ross FAULT Magazine Covershoot and Interview 

Dress: Monsoori
Dress: Pedro Juan Atelier
Stockings: Wolford  
Earrings: Joanna Laura

Photographer: Harvey Jackson

Stylist: Raytell Bridges 

Makeup Artist: Nicole Cho

Hair Stylist: Frankie Calire

Videographer: Zaquan Champ

Digital Technician / First Assistant: Robert Bates  

Thanks to crowdMGMT

Words: Miles Holder

Businesswoman, performer and activist Angelica Ross has worn many hats on her creative journey. From honing her talents on the drag stage to her show-stopping performances on Pose and American Horror Story – while Angelica is an entertainer, she is also a mentor, educator and example for those part of the many communities she calls home.

We caught up with Angelica to discuss her journey, her projects and of course, her FAULTs.

What’s your preparation ritual before starting a role?

The first call that I make is to my acting coach and he gets me to be really goofy. We go to all the extremes so if the director wanted something different, I’m already loosened up and have it prepared. I’m very much about the craft of acting and I stay in training so that I’m always ready.

How has your activism influenced your creative career?

Greatly, because I am in an industry that turns the simple concept of accountability into what they call cancel culture. I come from a community and grassroots organisation where accountability is key and also the admission price for our community. You cannot be in a community with people without being accountable to them. When I take roles, when I speak in certain spaces, I walk in with my community behind me. I’m walking in with my blackness, my womanhood, my trans-ness unapologetically. With each of those identities, there’s a community that I need to represent.

How do you deal with the sometimes unwanted burden of being that representation?

What I’ve realised is that we are all more similar than we are different. The level of activism and advocacy that I do can be exhausting but I know that a lot of people are struggling with the world that we find ourselves in. As someone who is considered a leader, I try to reflect onto people that I am not so different than they are. I choose to push back, speak up, and respond. I think that our greatest challenge is that the world wants us to smile while women’s rights are being ripped away, while black people are being killed by police, while there are wars and justified wars all around the world and while LGBTQ people in Detroit, as well as Uganda, are being killed.

The world wants you to be attached to your comfort because the moment you get comfortable, that’s the moment you’re not going to want to stand up and say something. I’m trying to model for people how to get uncomfortable and get things done as well at the same time.

How do you find that work/life balance while ensuring you’re still giving 100% to your projects?

The life-changing experience for me was the moment I started practising Buddhism; it changed my entire perspective on life. It makes me look at my life as a practice and so everyday I’m practising to do better and be kinder to myself and others. I’m fortunate enough to have a piano and to create music, I spend a lot of time making music and being able to channel that creative energy as a form of self-care is really life-changing.

What’s a question you don’t hear asked enough?

Everybody looks at you as a celebrity and thinks you’ve got everything going on but I think the questions people ask less are, “are you okay?” I am okay but I struggle like everyone else. I struggle with feeling and experiencing that I am a powerful person who has changed the world but I’m obviously not powerful enough if I can’t stop the chaos that’s happening.

Sometimes I am faced with so much ignorance from every corner of our society, from white communities, as well as black and other communities of colour. There are moments when I want to give up. I’m in the entertainment business so my primary objective is to entertain but it’s hard when you know what the world really needs right now is education.

The burden of education is often put on the marginalised to administer, and much has gone unheeded – maybe the younger generation of certain communities don’t want to spend their lives educating their oppressor.

You are very correct. I think that that’s part of my dilemma. I can hear something saying “stop”. People ask me for my thoughts on the youth struggling with the policies that are happening – and I think to myself, “when I was coming up, saying I was trans was a fraud.” It does not mean that you have to fight at every turn, you have to learn to navigate the environment and be smart about the way that things are laid out.

If you cannot value who I am and what I contribute, then I will remove myself. There is power in removing yourself and so many of us LGBTQ people have done that with our families.

I think that you are definitely onto something and the resources that we fundraised on to educate people who don’t want to be educated, we can actually use those resources in a different way.

What’s one creative hurdle you had to overcome to take your career to the next level?

I am a trans woman who was able to find their identity through drag. When I was doing drag, I was lip-syncing because it was the arena in which trans people could be entertainers. I grew up playing piano by the ear in the fourth grade, in church choirs, swing choir, singing Italian, just everything. But I did not know how to transition vocally so that’s why I opted for just lip-syncing. Eventually, I just pushed myself and got enough courage to start going to open mics and learning guitar. I remember my last drag show where I brought my acoustic guitar and started performing instead of lip syncing – I would not be who I am today if I had not crossed that hurdle.

Dress: Haleia 
Earrings: Erickson Beamon

Your departure from Pose took many by surprise…

So many people speculated what was really going on there, but trust me, one thing I know is that it was in no way, shape or form punitive towards me. Ryan Murphy loves me and, he thought that I could really take that moment and make something out of it. I did not want to go at first, but I did not vocalise it. Ryan Murphy called me up and told me Candy’s journey on Pose was coming to an end. He also told me within the same conversation that I would be moving over to American Horror Story. It was abrupt, the fans felt it was a little soon as well but I think that we told a story the hit to a lot of people’s hearts.

What is your FAULT?

We all live in a difficult patriarchal society, it’s misogynistic but I’m only human and when it comes to men as much as those problems exist, I am still attracted to them! That is a flaw and a FAULT that I will have no matter what! I’ve been more open and more fluid, I do date women, as well now, but I don’t think I will ever not be attracted to men – and that is just a FAULT that I will carry to the grave.