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    "Pose" Star Angel Bismark Curiel Reacted To People Calling Him A Sex Symbol, And I'm Blushing

    "There's this sense of wanting to do right, particularly by Black trans women that live in a society that never does right by them."

    Charlotte Gomez / BuzzFeed


    A quick Twitter search of "Papi on Pose" will yield results from hundreds — if not thousands — of fans expressing their thirst for Angel Bismark Curiel. The 25-year-old quickly stole hearts playing the street-wise and often naive Esteban "Lil Papi" Martinez-Evangelista on FX's groundbreaking series. The show, which chronicles the impact of the AIDS epidemic on the LGBTQ+ community in the '80s and '90s, introduced us to an instant star, and we've been swooning ever since.

    Last week, the Florida native hopped on a Zoom call with us and dished on everything, including the meaning behind his name, what's he's learned from working alongside Billy Porter, and why he felt "naked" filming a scene on this season of Pose. Here are 27 things we learned on Zoom with Angel:


    1. What's the first thing you do in the morning?

    I'll wash my face because it helps me wake up. I like to do a little exfoliation. After that, I'll do some moisturizing toner. After that, I do a little eye cream or a little moisturizer. And then, I'll start my day off with a little yoga meditation.


    2. What’s the last thing you searched for on Google?

    Why won't my dog drink water?

    3. Have you ever been starstruck by a celebrity?

    When I met John Leguizamo on set for Critical Thinking. I was pretty starstruck because here was the man that kind of set the blueprint for me so to speak, for what I could potentially do in my career.

    BuzzFeed: Did you get a chance to tell him how much he inspired you?

    ABC: I asked that man for selfies every single day on that set, and we shot for at least six weeks. [Laughs] So I got a couple of photos. I got to pick his brain a little bit. One of the most amazing things he told me was, "You ever notice that athletes train consistently before they go into a game? They never just step into a game. That's not what's expected out of athletes. I expect the same out of you as an actor. I expect you to train before you set foot on set."

    4. Is there a special meaning behind your name, Angel?

    There actually is. So, originally my mom was gonna name me Sylvester because she had a crush on Sylvester Stallone. The whole time, my aunt was like, "Don't do that to that boy. They'll make fun of him in school." My mom is diabetic, so when she had me, she fell into a diabetic coma. My auntie used that as the perfect opportunity to swoop in and she said, "Now we're gonna name him Angel after his dad." So that's my father's name.

    5. What’s your guilty pleasure?

    Not gonna front, I love The Real Housewives of Atlanta. I actually indulged in it last night. If I'm watching with some ice cream, I'm a happy camper.

    6. Biggest lesson you’ve learned about yourself playing Lil Papi on Pose?

    I think the biggest lesson I learned is I have to be patient with things. [Viewers] really see Papi go through a lot of stuff professionally and personally. And he was always quick to be there for his family. But, he also knew he needed to be patient with them and allow them to want to receive help too. So, learning patience was a big one.

    FX / Courtesy Everett Collection


    7. Favorite ballroom moment or performance?

    I love Mj Rodriguez's [lip-sync performance of] Whitney Houston's "Star-Spangled Banner" at the end of Season 2. Mj milked that moment like a motherfucker. She knew exactly what she needed to do, and she did it.

    8. Is there a scene from the show that you improvised but viewers would never notice?

    I actually love throwing in little ad-libs that make Papi be who he is, which is like this really funny, sort of oblivious kind of guy sometimes. There's one scene, I believe in Season 2, where Blanca storms into the boy's bedroom and she starts talking to us about how we need to show up and how she's stressed out. And then out of nowhere, she mentions her dyslexia. I just remember reading that in the script and then hearing it in person. I don't know what prompted me, but on my way out of that room, I looked at her and said, 'Sorry to hear about your dyslexia.' And that was just completely off the riff.

    9. What was it like shooting the show during the pandemic?

    To be honest, it was really scary. I remember being very cautious about what the set was going to look like when we came back to shoot because I have asthma and a heart murmur. And so I was like, if I catch this thing, there's a big possibility I end up in the ER. So, going in and knowing that we were one of the first ones to get a TV show up and running in New York, the city that got hit the hardest. Yeah, bouncing back was a really scary thing. But when I got there, I realized I was in a community with my peers. I knew that, at the end of the day, we were all in this together for a singular goal. I think that made it made me breathe a little easier. But it was stressful nonetheless.

    10. What was the most challenging scene to film this season?

    There's a scene in Episode 6 that required me to tap into a skill set I had never tapped into before. It required a coach and then it required me to be extremely vulnerable in front of my castmates and in front of the crew.

    "I stepped up there and I felt so naked. And so terrified."

    It was really terrifying because here was this thing that was asked of me that I have never done before, outside of, like, maybe my fucking shower. I stepped up there and I felt so naked. And so terrified. I was like, "Oh my god, these people are really going to fucking see me right now. What is going on?" But I just had to remind myself, "Hey, stay in the moment, stay in your body. And that's what's gonna get you through." But that was a really hard moment for me to navigate.

    11. Papi and Angel have a love story for the ages. What's your favorite Papi and Angel moment?

    There are so many beautiful moments. Again, Episode 6 of this season is the highlight of anything I'll probably ever do. So beautiful. It was so, so beautiful. Episode 6 will go down in history in my books as my favorite scene that I got to shoot with my scene partner, the very talented and very beautiful Indya Moore.

    12. Favorite behind-the-scenes moment with Indya?

    Towards the end, there were a lot of really sweet moments. I grabbed my phone and started putting my camera in each one of my castmate's faces, asking them, 'So the show is coming to a close, how does that make you feel?' And everyone's responses were so vulnerable and so beautiful. Because we filmed all the final ball scenes together in a one- to two-week timeframe, there is a lot of [footage] of dance parties. We knew the show was coming to a close. We all felt like a bunch of high school seniors just turning up towards the end.

    FX


    "There's this sense of wanting to do right, particularly by Black trans women that live in a society that never does right by them."

    13. How did your relationship with Janet Mock inform the way you portrayed Papi and Angel’s relationship on screen?

    For me, it's been a blueprint and my foundation. My pillars to know that I have this relationship that can guide me; that I feel safe enough to come with questions or things that I may not know and have [Janet] as a resource to be able to direct me in the right way. And for her to say here's a book or here's an article, or here, let's sit down and let's have this conversation so that when I set my foot on set as Papi, I come in as an actor who's a little more aware.

    There's the meaning and there's emotion. And there's this sense of wanting to do right, particularly by Black trans women that live in a society that never does right by them. My relationship with Janet has very much influenced my want to show up for Black trans women.

    14. What did you learn about acting from working alongside Billy Porter?

    He taught me how to measure myself, and that I didn't need to come in straight out the gate giving 110%. Particularly in the medium of film and television where you're waiting five hours for a close-up, which at the end of the day is what they're going to use when it comes to your performance. He was really helpful in my understanding of that.

    BuzzFeed: Was there a specific scene where you found yourself giving 110% and Billy suggested that you reel it in?

    ABC: Episode 6 of this season. When we did the table read I came in full of emotion. Off the rip, [Billy] was already there at a table read yelling, 'You better save it!' [Laughs] And then I was doing it on the day when we were filming that particular scene. That was like a 14–16 hour day and he grabbed me, held me to the side, and was like, "You gotta save it. You gotta save it because then when it's time, you can really show them that. But you're going to get tired if you keep [doing it this way]." I was like, okay, let me hold it back a little bit. And then when it's time, I can just let it out.

    15. What's one takeaway you hope viewers will have after watching the final episode of Pose?

    / ©FX Networks/Courtesy Everett Collection


    The importance of a chosen family can get you through the day, today or tomorrow, or any day. That's one thing that I hope we can all take away, is that we need that chosen family. If you strip all the eleganza and the glamour of Pose, its core ingredient and formula is that it's a show about family. Particularly, the chosen family of Black and brown characters, and these trans and queer characters that are so often neglected by their biological family.

    16. Did you keep anything from the set?

    Let me tell you, Terry. I got like two boxes worth of shit. [Laughs] I still haven't opened it up and gone through it. But I think there's one item that I receive in Episode 6. After we finished shooting, I kept it as memorabilia.

    "We're not just providing something educational, and uplifting, and yes, entertaining, but we're also doing something that has substance."

    17. Is there a specific fan encounter that stuck with you?

    Oh my god, any time anyone recognizes me from the show. I think one of the most amazing things about this show, in particular, is that we're not just providing something educational, and uplifting, and yes, entertaining, but we're also doing something that has substance. It means something to people that lived through a fucking AIDS epidemic, a crack epidemic, and so much more.

    I just really hold space with people when they come to me. Anytime I've ever had an interaction, it's all love, like, "Yo, you have no idea what the show means to me and what it's done for me." I know from my own experience with my mother, my family, and my friends about how the show has affected them. So anytime I have an interaction with anyone that watches the show, it's always like, "Thank god."

    18. What’s a role you’d love to play next?

    I love this play by Stephen Adly Guirgis called Jesus Hopped on the A Train. I'd love to be on a stage and get to do a lot of theater next. I think that would be really grounding after spending the last three to four years in front of the camera. It would bring me back to my roots and really just be able to go be emotionally raw with whoever is in front of me. The aspect of having a live audience switches something in my mind that makes it like, "Oh, there's people out there. Let's give them 110%."


    19. Best advice you’ve ever received?

    I had this amazing drama teacher named Michelle in high school. I thought I was gonna enlist in the military and that was gonna be my life. I got turned down because of asthma. [Michelle] looked at me and she said, "That's all right. I see you doing more good in this life with a script in your hand than I do a rifle." And I live by those words to this day. And it's the only reason I'm here doing what I do because one person gave me that one piece of advice and I said, "Okay, I think I can do it."

    20. Who was your childhood celebrity crush?

    Oh my god, Taraji P. Henson! I never thought I'd be asked that. Sorry, Taraji, if you're reading this! [Laughs]

    21. What’s your hidden talent?

    I can move my ears.

    22. Favorite Dominican dish?

    They call it Mangú Tres Golpes. It's plantains, fried salami, a fried egg with some yummy onions on it.

    23. Actor you would love to work with?

    I'd love to work with Daniel Kaluuya and Mahershala Ali. Those are just two actors on my very long list.

    24. Favorite emoji?

    🙏🏼.

    25. Favorite curse word?

    I've got too many. [Laughs]

    26. Describe the perfect day for Angel.

    The perfect day consists of a day where I have no work. I'll do some yoga or meditate. And then I get to spend my day outside in some fresh air, on some grass walking my dog. Hopefully end the night with either an oldie — most recently, I just watched The Philadelphia Story — or some Real Housewives of Atlanta, to be honest. [Laughs]

    27. Finally, what are your thoughts on people calling you a sex symbol?

    That's crazy. I still don't believe it. I'm still hard on myself. I'm like, "I don't see it." But if y'all see it, god bless y'all, and thank you for lifting my spirits.

    Thanks for chatting with us, Angel! Be sure to catch him in Pose, streaming on FX and Netflix.


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