Jeremy McClain posing for Pose
If you haven’t heard about Jeremy McClain yet, listen up. He is breaking through in his debut role as Cubby in Ryan Murphy’s latest masterpiece, Pose. The first season was a sensation and was just picked up for season two. McClain can be seen voguing his heart out, as a member of The House of Abundance. Among the many remarkable elements of the show, Pose gives a voice not only to the LGBTQ community, but the diversity that makes it up. We were lucky enough to get some questions in with the budding star as he was jet setting to Europe.
C: What was your life like pre-Pose, where are you from? Was your aspiration always to become an actor?
J: I always wanted to be in entertainment. When I was little I used to always put on little shows for my mom and anyone that would watch haha It got a bit more serious though when I started studying Musical Theater at the Governor’s School for the Arts when I was in high school in Norfolk, VA, which is where I’m from. I’d leave my normal school at 1 PM and go to GSA and take classes in tap, jazz, ballet, voice, etc. My first passion was singing actually but acting just grew on me. I guess I’ve just been waiting for the right role to come around and Pose gave me that.
C: To my understanding, this is your first major role in television. How was that transition in front of the camera? What were your major hurtles you faced while starting out?
J: Well I used to model so I’ve always been pretty comfortable in front of a camera but modeling and acting are two different beasts. A picture is a moment while film is a series of moments. You really have to be present and know that every single gesture and movement is being captured. The hardest parts for me were the voguing but I’ve become a lot more comfortable with that. I’d danced in front of people on stage when I was in school but being on set is totally different as it’s really easy to lose yourself in the stage lights. We were completely surrounded by people when shooting the ball scenes which was a bit nerve wracking at times but after the first day you’re like–alright, cool.
C: Since Pose is set in the 80s, how did you prepare for a role in a decade you weren’t alive for?
J: The cast and me were lucky enough to have a lot of the icons from the 80’s ballrooms scene on set with us who told us everything about the time. Being able to listen to their stories was such a treat and honor while also heartbreaking as it was such a less accepting time for LGBTQ people.
C: What is the most rewarding part of being part of the Pose cast and what is the most challenging?
J: The most rewarding part is being apart of such a rich and important part of culture that has never been depicted on mainstream TV before. Also, working with such an amazing team! The most challenging was making sure that I was doing it justice.
C: In what ways has your journey as an actor been different than anticipated?
J: That I was lucky enough to get the first part I auditioned for since high school and it happened to be for a groundbreaking show by the legendary Ryan Murphy.
C: An important aspect of the show is the unity of family; does that unity of family translate off screen with the cast?
J: OMG, yes! We truly became a family while filming and continue to support each other in every single way. I know I could call (and have) any of my cast mates at anytime and they would answer. It’s such a blessing, truly.
C: Was there someone that sparked your passion for acting?
J: I would say it was Whitney Houston. As I started off as a singer, when I first saw The Bodyguard and this singer I’d been mimicking for as long as I could speak could act also I was like “OMG, I can do that TOO?” haha
C: Since Pose has been pivotal for the LGBTQ community, what influence do you want this show to have on the viewers?
J: I want the show to humanize the trans experience. It’s so amazing the messages I’ve seen on social media of people saying that they watched Pose with their father or grandmother and they were moved to tears and could empathize with their stories. We’re all people at the end of the day and I think this show will teach people that.
C: What advice do you have for people within the LGBTQ community who want to pursue acting?
J: Times are changing and if you have a passion for it, now is the time. Don’t be afraid. The world is yours.
C: Since you are at the beginning of your journey as an actor, where do you see yourself in 10 years? What are the goals that you would like to accomplish?
J: Obviously I would like to have gotten by EGOT but we’ll see haha
C: Outside of your acting career, what are you personal goals?
J: I’ll be releasing music later this year and hope to sell one of my scripts I’ve written. Generally, just continuing to make beautiful, gay art that the world will love and learn from.
Written by Collin Schreiber