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Jason Rodriguez, the unequivocal new face of voguing, and 2021 Hollywood Critics Association TV Award nominee for “Pose,” along with Ricardo Sebastián, Rodriguez’s longtime manager turned business partner, announced today the inaugural roster of their newly formed Arraygency.

The initial Arraygency roster includes six creatives: dancer Azusa Crawford (she/her), youth leader, queer and trans artist, and journalist Sage Dolan-Sandrino (she/her), actor, dancer, writer, and producer Morticia Godiva (she/her), music artist, songwriter, model, public speaker and trans advocate Iman Hill (she/her), dance artist and model José Lapaz-Rodriguez (he/him), and dancer and model Babou Sanneh (he/him).

“We are thrilled with the very first roster at Arraygency!,” said Rodriguez and Sebastián in a joint statement. “It’s been an exciting few weeks since our announcement and we were inspired by all the responses and submissions we received. We are eager to introduce each of these talents to the world and look forward to welcoming even more creative talent to Arraygency in the future.”

Rodriguez and Sebastián formed Arraygency this August, with the singular mission of bringing BIPOC, Queer and Trans people to the forefront of all creative industries. Since announcing they have received over 650 submissions for representation.

Arraygency places an important and specific spotlight on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion to better meet the needs of BIPOC, Queer and Trans creatives in the entertainment industry and ensure equal access to opportunities for all.

Arraygency | Photo: Alex Webster
TALENT BIOGRAPHIES

AZUSA CRAWFORD (she/her) is a Bronx native with a passion for kinetic aesthetics and dance. She is part of the NYC ballroom scene which has shaped her fundamentals as an artist. She is to graduate from Lehman College for Dance in 2022. She is trained in Ballet, Contemporary, West African Dance, Hip Hop and House. Her mission is to notify every black trans woman that they are capable of being “that girl with the spice” regardless of their transitional journey. She has been featured in works with Sneakers n’ Stuff and Mavi Jeans.

SAGE DOLAN-SANDRINO (she/her) is a youth leader, queer and trans artist and Founder & Creative Director of digital zine and youth creative studio @TheTeamMag. Dolan-Sandrino socially transitioned at 13 and became a public voice for trans student rights, working with the Human Rights campaign, National Center for Transgender Equality, and even becoming an ambassador to The White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for African Americans under the Obama Administration, and was among the students who developed the Obama Title IX protections for trans youth. As a journalist, Sage covered trans culture for Teen Vogue as the publication’s first trans youth journalist. She continues her work for trans and queer equity on the National Black Justice Coalition’s Youth and Young Adult Advisory Council-member and Black Trans Advisory Council. She also serves on the Board of Advisors at Gucci’s Chime For Change global campaign for gender equity and justice. Vogue Magazine Voices of Hope | Teen Vogue #21Under21 | Refinery29 #Zlist2020 | BET #Future40 | GLAAD x Teen Vogue #20under20

MORTICIA GODIVA (she/her) is an actor, dancer, writer, and producer. Some of their work includes “Feeling Like An Orchid”, a short film that they wrote, produced, and starred in. The film shares a story of black love and dating within a polyamorous relationship. Godiva recently produced a body of work that is poetry in motion and an ode to Fem Queen Joy, titled “Boomerang”. As an artist, Morticia creates an authentic narrative through literature, dance, music, and performance. She is interested in the space and distance between people, and her innate ability to transform that into something of beauty for the viewer implicitly parts the gift of empathy to all who devour her art. Thematically, the truth of self and our right to self determine our own existence is prevalent throughout Godiva's work. In 2019, the collective Black Trans Travel Fund welcomed Morticia as their Director of Client Services.

IMAN HILL (she/her) hails from Atlanta, Georgia and is now based in NYC. She is a classically trained contemporary music artist, songwriter, model, public speaker and trans advocate. She is a community organizer and dot connector for LGBT resources. She is an active member in the House of St. Laurent founded in 1982. In 2020, Iman released an extended play entitled “If Mona Lisa Could Talk” which prophesied the coming of a new renaissance highlighting black trans and queer people as cornerstones in societies and catalysts for the turn of culture as we know it told through rambunctious lyrics/wordplay and sultry R&B melodies. Since the development of the EP, Ms. Hill has graced numerous NYC stages/ nightclubs, been featured in an assortment of campaigns and magazines. Her hit song “Never Last” was performed at the SXSW Music Festival in 2021.

JOSÉ LAPAZ-RODRIGUEZ (he/him) is a freelance dance artist and model from the Dominican Republic currently living in New Jersey. José is a Hanya Holm award recipient and he graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University with a BFA in Dance. José researches the interconnection of contemporary dance and voguing in concert dance in queer bodies as he is part of the ballroom scene. He has performed works by Matthew Rushing, Pam Tanowitz, Jordan Lloyd, Stefanie Batten-Bland, Roderick George, and Darrell Grand Moultrie. Asidefrom concert dance, he has performed as a cameo artist in the Off-Broadway ‘Hercules’ by Chase Brock, he collaborated with Mandy Moore for a Facebook commercial, Jermaine Browne for Rowan Papier’s Telfar “The Same Beat”, and danced in Chad Lawson’s ‘Prelude in D Major’ music video.

BABOU SANNEH (he/him) is a first generation Gambian-American artist from New York City. Babou is currently a junior in the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase college where he is pursuing his BFA in dance. Prior to studying at Purchase, Babou was a student at the Ailey school’s Professional Division and the Young Artist Program at the Martha Graham school where he later performed Graham’s “Panorama” as part of the company’s 2018 New York City Center Season. Babou has also studied theatre arts as a student of Repertory Company High School for Theater Arts. Babou has performed works by Jamar Roberts, Victor Quijada, Jenelle Figgins, Doug Varone, Yusha-Marie Sorzano, Darshan Bhuller, Martha Graham, and Earl Mosley. Babou has danced and modeled for the Burberry x SSENCE ‘imaginary cities’ campaign and featured in GQ magazine as a model for Post Imperial. He has also worked as a featured talent for Sneakers n Stuff.

How to talk about transgender issues

So how do we talk about transgender issues (even if you're not transgender)? There are three main things to remember when discussing transgender issues today, so before getting into the meat and potatoes of it all, let's keep these things in mind:

  1. It is not a political discussion, it is a human rights discussion.
  2. There is a rich history rooted in transgender rights that must be considered when discussing these issues.
  3. Humanization should always be at the forefront of the conversation.

Before going into any conversation, no matter who it's with, try to keep these things in mind before you say something that may be inappropriate, misguided, or just plain wrong. Even those with the best intentions can mess up; remember that it is always ok to admit when you do not know something or when you are wrong. That being said, let's get into it.

sign with a 'friendly for all genders' image showing a person in a wheelchair, and a person with half a dress and pants on.

Transgender bathroom bills

commons.wikimedia.org

So whether you choose to become a transgender activist or if you just want to be a better ally, this easy talking point will generally keep you in line and on the safe side of conversations while still putting forth the effort to encourage and better represent transgender rights.

Easy, all-around approach: This will work for almost all transgender issues and expand on the previous three rules; firstly, trans issues are not a debate. When discussing with someone, do not indulge in hypotheticals and always remember that transgender people are the exact same as anyone else, with the exact same feelings. Keeping this in mind, let's use the bathroom bill as an example. When discussing this issue, one should humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation. How does one employ this, though? Here is an example of how the conversation may go.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restroom, they will rape my daughters.

So this statement is clearly based on reactionary conversation perpetuated by anti-transgender ideals. This means that the person probably has a misconception of the history and oppression of transgender people. They also show concern for their family, which is a step towards humanization, despite the misconception. Here would be an appropriate response that helps to humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation.

Person 2: I don't want men in the women's restroom, either, which is why we need to make sure people who identify as women are using the women's restroom. There has never been a documented case where a transgender person has raped either a man or woman in a public restroom. And by forcing people to use a restroom that does not match their gender identity, it is promoting violence, as there is a strong history of physical violence against transgender people.

By only saying about three sentences, you are able to do the previous steps while discussing the issue in a civil manner without opening it up to debate. The key to this is to keep it short and sweet, stating both the truth and an ally's stance to support the transgender community. It's critical to make sure that what you say is backed with confidence, though, which is why this second approach is more encouraged as it gives the person speaking more confidence in their opinion.

gif of a man in a suit talking about number 1. Number 1 GIF by PragerU Giphy

The second approach: backed by facts and history, is the exact same as before, but this approach leaves the other person with more questions about their stance and gives them something to consider. Before going into this approach, however, it is important to keep in mind that you are not debating the existence of trans people, nor are you trying to change someone's mind. That is not the goal; the goal is simply to get your opinion across in a way that honors both the trans community and their ideas. Let's take the same example as before but add the new sentiments.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restrooms, they will rape my daughters.

Person 2: There has never been a documented case of a transgender person raping anyone in a public restroom, and the only published cases of such were proven to be false. Further, when people say things like this, they are perpetuating violence against transgender people, which has historically (and still does) oppressed and insight further physical violence against them. And honestly, the most common reason there is this stance is because the person typically does not know a trans person and may not even know a person who does know a trans person. But the truth is, they probably do. The probability is more likely that the transgender people around them are just not comfortable enough in the environment to come out and speak up about their gender identity. And yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is quite sad that some people's opinion does not invite civil discussion but instead incites violence.

This approach is more confrontational, which requires more confidence when using it in a conversation, but it still holds true to all of the previous rules and sentiments. It adds truth based on history, which is an important aspect of trans rights as it reminds people of where we were/ where we are currently with human rights. These ideas can be transferred to most all trans issues and will honor the transgender movement and your allyship. The last thing to keep in mind is the person or reason you are standing up for/with trans rights. The passion -the compassion will shine through in conversation if you keep your reasoning close to heart. Whether it is because of a transgender friend, family member, or just because of your moral values, if you put your emotions into your reasoning, it will create more compelling statements, especially if the statement is well versed with the facts.

Tips to Remember When Discussing Transgender Issues

  1. Transgender issues are not political, they are human rights issues
  2. There is a rich history behind transgender issues
  3. Humanize transgender people through our words and ideas and don't forget to include:
    • 3(b). The facts
    • 3(c).The confidence
    • 3(d). The inspiration behind the support for transgender rights

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Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime

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