Spoilers below for anyone who isn't caught up with American Horror Story: 1984 through its penultimate episode.
It feels like FX's summer camp excursion only just began, but somehow American Horror Story: 1984 has already reached its finale. The episode "Final Girl" marks the end of Angelica Ross' first year working on Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk's horror anthology, and it has been an exciting whirlwind for the actress, who first teamed up with the duo for the acclaimed drama Pose. This is not exactly her genre of choice, either.
Speaking with CinemaBlend ahead of the AHS: 1984 finale, Angelica Ross talked candidly about how the slasher-infused season changed her perspective on horror, among other things. (More on that below.) When she first took the role of "Nurse Rita / Donna" Ross noted that she wasn't aware of all of her character's big reveals, but that the bare-bones info she knew about influenced her to do some research into serial killers such as Richard Ramirez, now played in American Horror Story's universe by Zach Villa. Here's how Ross put it:
For Angelica Ross, her discomfort with elements of the horror genre were lessened by the pedigree of actors and crew members surrounding her during the production. She has, of course, spent quite a bit of time with dedicated co-stars such as Emma Roberts and John Carroll Lynch, and several others who are quite familiar with the American Horror Story way of life. And it's clear their influence paid off, as Ross looked completely comfortable playing the twisted psychologist Donna throughout the season.
In fully developing her AHS role, Angelica Ross found a pretty specific way to appreciate the slasher genre that very clearly inspired American Horror Story: 1984. In her words:
Of course, that feeling comes from a deeper and more personal place for Angelica Ross, who is the first trans actress to hold two different series regular TV roles. Being a black trans woman in the U.S. isn't exactly a cakewalk, as one might imagine, and there were several elements within American Horror Story's narrative that sparked some reflection for Ross.
Angelica Ross spoke to that after I asked if it was disturbing to be researching serial killers while also acting opposite a fictionalization of the real-world Richard "The Night Stalker" Ramirez. I think it's safe to say Ross won't be stanning Zach Villa's Satan worshipper anytime soon.
As ridiculous as the Richard Ramirez character comes off at times, especially once Dylan McDermott's Bruce entered the picture, the character is still based on one of the most disturbing killers in America's storied history of them. So seeing him in action on a daily basis, along with lots of other macabre moments in this season, couldn't have been the most comforting job perk for Angelica Ross.
When I asked Angelica Ross what she thought fans were most excited about going into the finale, and here's what she told me:
As Ross said, Ryan Murphy's AHS creative teams have long been upending genre expectations, but American Horror Story: 1984 is perhaps this franchise's clearest distillation of subverted horror tropes. While this series has kept its main female characters alive in seasons past, rarely have characters embraced the "Final Girl" stereotype as strongly as Emma Roberts' Brooke has, though things have been ramped up a notch. But could Angelica Ross' Donna defy the odds by making it through the end?
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Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper. Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.