Dominique Jackson has a dream role. And it’s not what you might expect. “Hopefully one day I’ll get to play a vampire queen,” says the actress. “Let’s just put it out there.”
Her current employer — Ryan Murphy — might take notice for a future installment of American Horror Story, considering Jackson is currently stealing scene after scene in Murphy’s FX hit about ’80s ball culture, Pose. The Tobago-born Jackson, one of five Grand Marshals at this Saturday’s Capital Pride Parade, plays Elektra Abundance, a transgender house mother who finds herself in a downward spiral in season one after she undergoes gender confirmation surgery. Pose has been praised for employing more transgender actors, crewmembers, writers, and filmmakers in the history of television. But Jackson doesn’t want to fall into a trap of being typecast.
“I don’t only want to play trans parts,” she says. “I’m a woman. Eventually, I would love to just go in for the role of a woman and play one, like any of my sisters that are actors would do, who are cisgender.”
Jackson, who has spent parts of her life homeless and making a living as a sex worker, loves being part of a hit series, though finds it frustrating that storylines are generally kept secret from her and the rest of the cast.
“We are mostly surprised,” she says. “We get our scripts the week before we shoot them. So that’s why I guess I’m so tired at times, because I have to learn the lines, I have to be on set — and set is a gruesome day. I didn’t know what Electra’s arc would be. I was just playing the character out of understanding the type of woman she is. And being able to add these pieces and traits of women that I have known for many years — like Octavia St. Laurent, Brenda Milan, Danielle Revlon, may she rest in peace, and many other women. This attitude of just being fierce and defiant against society and living your life in the way that you want to — even though it means living it off of others.”
Jackson found the most challenging part of the first season to be the scenes where Electra finds herself cast out and homeless. “Going into Central Park, where I had actually slept when I was homeless, was kind of…. I had many mixed feelings and was fearful to play that part. I wanted my character to just continue to be fantastic and fabulous. But we had to tell the story and bring the reality of it. We had to face the facts of trans homelessness that is occurring this very day, constantly.”
Jackson is looking forward to seeing how people react when season two of Pose debuts on Tuesday, June 11. “Oh, for season two, you’re going to need Bounty instead of Kleenex,” she laughs. “It’s going to make people cry, there are going to be moments. But I know, just from working on it, it’s going to be fantastic.”
Like so many within the community, she feels frustration and anger toward the current administration’s rollback of transgender rights. Jackson views it as a direct attack.
“I don’t think there is progress, because trans women are still being murdered,” she says. “We just had three in Dallas already, and I feel that under the current administration people feel that it’s okay to be prejudiced. But people don’t see themselves as prejudiced or discriminating, they just see themselves as — how should I put it? — they use their religious beliefs in order to justify their convictions. It is impossible for someone to be a human being and have some type of feeling and not realize that the temperature has to change towards the LGBTQIA+ community and that it must continue to change.
“But some people don’t want it to change,” she continues. “They will just say, ‘Okay, we support you all, we’re allies.’ But in the background, they do things to hurt us, and we as LGBTQIA+ people must consider these things and do whatever is within our power to be able to let the world continue to know that we are here and we are human beings and we deserve respect. We deserve employment. We deserve the right medical care. We deserve all of our issues to be equal to those who are privileged at this time.”
Jackson recalls moments in her life when harassers have made her feel less than human.
“It’s a really disgusting feeling,” she says, quietly. “And at times you just wanted to lash out. But now I’m a more grounded woman, so I believe in logic, I believe in facts, and I am so happy and comfortable in my truth that I am just too beautiful to be frustrated. So when I encounter these people, I smile now to myself, because I realize that this is just pure ignorance. They live in such a box that they can’t understand that the world is so much greater. With every person you meet, that person can influence your life spiritually, culturally, educationally, in so many ways. So when I meet these people now, it’s like, ‘I have come so far, I’m not going to even stoop to your level to argue with you, or to fight you for something that I can now fight from a higher position.'”
Dominique Jackson is one of the Grand Marshals at this year’s Capital Pride Parade, along with her Pose co-star Hailie Sahar, Earline Budd, Matt Easton, and Brandon Wolf. The Parade kicks off Saturday, June 8, at 4:30 p.m. at the intersection of 23rd and P St. NW. See page 10 of this magazine or visit www.capitalpride.org.