Indya Moore has been striking poses well before landing her role on Ryan Murphy‘s new show. The Manhattan native (she attended the same Bronx high school as rapper Cardi B!) got her start as an independent model.
“I’m grateful for the experience,” Pose‘s Moore, who identifies as transgender, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, on stands now. “I have often been many companies’ first experience with a gender variant model. I am proud of that because I think I have broadened their horizons in my own way. I would love to see all agencies connect to models more for who they are and can be as opposed to what they’ve done.”
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Joining the Pose cast, which boasts the most transgender actors ever on one show, allowed Moore to continue exploring her identity. “Pose has basically been a trip for everyone,” she says. “We’re all in different phases of our individual evolutions, but we’ve embarked on the journey together.”
Moore plays streetwalker Angel, who falls in love with both her client Stan (Evan Peters) and New York City’s ballroom scene — something the Pose star can relate to. “As a black person of non-gender-conforming experience, my first existentially reciprocal and affirming experiences were in the New York ballrooms,” the 25-year-old says.
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Moore dedicated her performance in the ’80s-based drama to Naomi Hersi, a Somali trans woman who was murdered in London in March at age 17.
“Naomi’s murder in that London hotel this year could have been Angel’s story,” Moore explains. “No one wants to be alone and everyone wants to be loved. Her favorite thing to do was watching television. It pains me to know that Naomi is no longer here and that she will not get to see herself represented in Pose.”
The actress does hope that the series will help change “people’s idea of love and family” to encompass “the existences of communities they would not have normally considered.”
For more on Indya Moore, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on stands now
“Our current administration is the biggest threat to LGBTQ rights that I’ve seen in my lifetime,” she says. “Non-gender-conforming people already struggle with having the personal support of the cisgender community and family members. Having policy makers in Washington attack our right to exist by law is frightening on a level that is difficult to describe. Pose will hopefully help them see our humanity if they truly want to see it.”
Pose, also starring Kate Mara, premieres Sunday on FX at 9 p.m. ET.