Actress Angelica Ross made history on September 12, 2022, when she “razzle-dazzled” her way as Roxie Hart into the long-running Broadway revival of Chicago. Ross — best known for her turn as Candy on the hit Ryan Murphy series Pose — is the first openly transgender woman to headline a show on Broadway. NY1 journalist Frank DiLella recently caught up with Angelica in between rehearsals to chat about this groundbreaking moment.
Angelica, you’re making history as the first openly trans woman to star in a Broadway show. This is a major moment. Do you feel the weight of that?
I feel the weight of my own pressure, being a perfectionist and someone who pushes myself to be great and to do great things.
Was Broadway always the dream?
Broadway was a dream of mine since I was a kid. I come from a small town in Wisconsin, and as a kid I was in my local theater group. Before I graduated high school, I had 11 years of musical theater under my belt. I wanted to go to Juilliard and then eventually be on Broadway, but life took me on a little detour. But it led me back here eventually.
You’re playing Roxie Hart on Broadway. It doesn’t get more iconic than that — it’s like playing Elphaba in Wicked or the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera. Who is Roxie Hart to you?
Roxie is a girl who is trying to live by her own rules while still navigating in a male-dominated environment. She’s an undiscovered star who needs the right moment and spotlight. And I feel like this is the right moment for me and the right spotlight to show people who I am and what I can do.
You’re playing opposite one of Broadway’s favorite leading men: Brandon Victor Dixon.
I’m so excited. I’m such a fan — from his performance in Jesus Christ Superstar to his performance in Rent. I can feel his heart in his performances; I can’t wait to play with him in Chicago. I also have to say I’m excited to work with Amra-Faye Wright as Velma. All I keep hearing is the legend that Amra is. For me, being an actor or creative, it’s like playing tennis. You get better when you have great partners to ping-pong things back and forth.
You shared the screen with legendary theater actor and Tony winner Billy Porter when you were on Pose. Any words of wisdom from Billy about taking on Broadway for the first time?
Billy called me to congratulate me. He said he will be at the show. And I did speak with Jeremy Pope, who was one of my Pose costars — he was in Ain’t Too Proud on Broadway. Jeremy gave me the best advice: He told me to prioritize my self-care and my body.
Speaking of Pose, let’s dream-cast Chicago with your Pose family.
I would love to see Jason A. Rodriguez doing the “Cell Block Tango.” I would love to see Dominique [Jackson] as Mama Morton and Hailie Sahar as Velma. Either Billy Porter or shake it up and put MJ Rodriguez as the lawyer — as a female lawyer.
What message do you want to send to audiences, theater-makers, and industry folks coming to see you in Chicago?
I see this as a privilege and what it means to turn your privilege into power. And there’s a lot of privilege that comes along with Broadway, whether it’s being able to afford the cost of the seats or being able to access the type of support and training that come along with being a Broadway star. What I know with my advocacy with LGBTQ folks and marginalized folks is that we don’t see a lot of us in these spaces because we don’t have access to the training. So my message to Broadway is: Work with me directly and my organization [TransTech Social Enterprises] to create a pipeline into the theater.
You make things happen — you’re a TV star, Broadway star, you own your own record label, you run your own nonprofit. What’s next for you?
I’m trying to focus in on what my passion is. I’m blessed to have been on television and on Broadway, but I’m still an actor. And being an actor, a lot of that is about auditioning and casting. A lot of that comes down to a yes or a no. And for me, I’m creating opportunities where I don’t have to rely on someone else’s yes, that I can say yes to my own dreams. That’s what you see me do and what you’ll see me continue to do.
You can catch Ross as Roxie Hart in Chicago at the Ambassador Theatre through Sunday, November 6, 2022.
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