Ryan Murphy on What Inspired Him to Donate ‘Pose’ Profits to Trans and LGBTQ Charities
Ryan Murphy is striking more than a “Pose” with his new LGBTQ series, coming next month on FX.
The uberproducer announced on Twitter Wednesday that he’s donating all of the profits from the series to trans and LGBTQ charitable organizations. “These groups do amazing work and need our support,” he wrote. “Every day for the next 14 days I will highlight a group I’m supporting, and encourage you to do the same!”
The bold move, he says, was spurred by his success with the Half Foundation, which supports women and minorities in behind-the-camera work, and the transformation he’s seen it make in people’s lives. “We’ve entered this area of television as advocacy, and I’ve seen the difference you can make in people’s lives by showing up for them, caring for them, and helping them in any way that you can,” Murphy tells Variety.
A period piece set in the mid-’80s in New York City, “Pose” examines the juxtaposition of the emergence of the luxury Trump-era universe alongside the ball culture world in the LGBTQ community. FX picked the show up to series in December, and after filming in New York City, it’s set to premiere June 3. The series stars five trans actors — all women of color — as series regulars, and more than 100 trans actors and crew members have been employed by the production.
“The thing that struck me in talking to so many of them, was how much they’ve struggled, how under attack they feel, how many of them find it difficult getting healthcare, and finding jobs,” says Murphy, who directed the first two episodes. “I just decided I need to do more than just making a show for this community. I want to reach out and help this community.”
So he decided he should really be “putting his money where his mouth is” and give back, identifying a dozen or more charities to which he will donate.
Murphy kicked off the first of 14 days with a shout-out to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. “SRLP works to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination or violence,” he wrote.
Nearly all of the groups he’s selected are completely dependent on charitable donations to keep going, he says. “So my goal is to double that for all of them in the course of a calendar year,” he says.
His corporate parents at 20th Century Fox studios and FX have been supportive of his plan. “Every time we’ve asked them for something, they’ve stepped up,” he says. “I will be hitting them up for donations — make no mistake,” he says of his bosses Dana Walden, John Landgraf, and Peter Rice.
In addition to his own donations, Murphy pledges to hold fundraising screenings and other benefits to help raise awareness, as well as potentially set up scholarships for trans and LGBTQ kids who need educational resources.
In the hours since he first tweeted the news, Murphy says he’s heard from even more charities desperate for help, so much so that he’s thinking about expanding the list. “My eyes have really been opened to the great work being done in a lot of these organizations, and these people are in the shadows and they need our support,” he says. He hopes to encourage people not just to donate, but also to learn about the LGBTQ community and the issues they’re facing.
It’s even more necessary, he says, given the current administration in Washington, D.C. “The struggle is real and it’s not getting easier,” says Murphy. “It’s getting worse. They’re trying to take away rights that we’ve worked for and fought for that we thought was done, or at least was going our way under the Obama regime. There were many great strides, but I feel like so many of them have just taken off the table.”
Murphy says he hopes the show — and his donations — will help change “hearts and minds.” “I really do believe that television can change the world and I’ve seen it firsthand,” he says, pointing to shows like “Glee” and “Modern Family.”
“I believe that if you see a character on television and you love that character, you will consider our character to be your friend, even if you have nothing in common with that person.”