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NUNN ON ONE TELEVISION Dominique Jackson celebrates 'Pose'

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FX's television drama Pose broke ground again when it was nominated for two major Golden Globes—Billy Porter, who plays Pray Tell, could possibly win a Best Actor in a drama TV series award, while the series itself might be named best dramatic series. Co-creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Steven Canals are returning to Pose for its sophomore run in 2019.

Dominique Jackson plays Elektra Abundance on the television series. In the past, she modeled for Vogue Espana and wrote a biography titled The Transexual from Tobago.

Before landing Pose, she appeared on the reality television show Strut and earned a GLAAD Media Award nomination for it.

Jackson sat down at Hydrate Nightclub before judging a ballroom contest to discuss her life.

Windy City Times: What are your thoughts on Pose's depiction of the ballroom scene?

Dominique Jackson: I lived in that era. I was a little girl during those times. I saw these women and I thought to myself, "I don't want to be like them." I thought they were elitists, but it was not elitism—it was their way of surviving. They believed no matter where you came from or level of education, you could still conduct yourself with class, dignity and decency.

Sometimes they would read us to filth and say our hair was not right. At that time, walking through the streets and not being recognized as a woman could lead to your death, so there was a lot of tough love back then. When I got the part on the show, I realized that I had been trained and I was being shown the reality of my life. I was able to return and tell the story. We never know how the universe works.

WCT: Tell our readers about your backstory.

DJ: I am from Trinidad and Tobago. I was born on the smaller island of Tobago called Scarborough. As you know, in the Caribbean, there are sodomy laws so it was very difficult for someone like myself to exist. I worked on my education because grandma had a plan. It was to finish my exams and come away to America.

I knew from the time I was five that I was different. It wasn't until 12 that confusion set in, because there was molestation and rape. It is all in my book. It is called The Transexual from Tobago Revised; it's on Amazon. I used that as my therapy. It helped me realize how far I have come. To come from a small island to Maryland and graduate high school, then become homeless after coming out was a long journey.

I came out as gay because I didn't know "trans" existed. I didn't know what that was. I thought I would feel happy when I told my family I was gay, but I didn't. It wasn't until I saw other women in downtown [Baltimore], outside of the Hippo, that I saw myself. People in the community were calling them men, but I didn't see that. What I saw were beautiful women who had the courage to be themselves. I linked up and started my hormones. It was the happiest time in my life.

WCT: How is the relationship with your family now?

DJ: We are still working on it. There's tension, honey. They are christians. The amazing thing is I was speaking to my mother the other day and she referred to me as a her. I didn't want to cry on the phone immediately, but I felt the love for my biological family. I have many people that are my chosen and proven family, but these are the people that raised me, so it meant a lot.

WCT: Where you based out of now?

DJ: I have been in New York for 20 years. I went to L.A. for Strut, and was going to move there. I spent two months there and went to one of the executive producers and said, "Please tell Whoopi Goldberg I am not moving here." They knew it.

I am a New Yorker. I love getting on the subway and seeing the different people or ordering a turkey and cheese at the bodega at 2 a.m.

WCT: I spoke with Mj Rodriguez from Pose about the struggle of trans people in the work force depicted on the show. What are your thoughts on that?

DJ: We have had issues. I never wanted to do sex work. I am not knocking it, because I call it survival sex work, because it is used to survive.

I would go out and try telemarketing. Before the day was through, someone in the group realized I was trans and outed me. I tried working in restaurants, but didn't have a green card. I got my green card in 2015. It was a 25-year fight to get it.

WCT: How has your life change since the first season of Pose aired?

DJ: It has changed in the sense that I can now meet my bills. It was a struggle to stay in the same apartment for 20 years. I feel more secure now. I am now validated by Ryan Murphy. He really matters and someone people look up to.

Whoopi Goldberg invited me to her house and had us over for dinner like normal people. My husband and I were just with her a few weeks ago and met her daughter and grandkids. She gives me advice. I feel like she is a big sister and a mother to me. She is phenomenal and that skin of hers is amazing.

WCT: What are you doing for the rest of the year?

DJ: I am going to continue to make club appearances like this one. People should know I am from ballroom. People from ballroom can do great things if they are given the opportunity. Ballroom raised me and taught me to be a woman, then I decided on the type of woman I wanted to be.

The 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards will air Sunday, Jan. 6, at 7 p.m. on NBC.

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