Camp Redwood is closing this week — this time for good. American Horror Story: 1984 will air its epic conclusion on Wednesday, wrapping up the season-long homage to '80s slasher films. And while we still have a ton of questions we're hoping the finale will answer, the biggest one has to be who 1984's final girl will be: Brooke (Emma Roberts), Donna (Angelica Ross), or Margaret (Leslie Grossman)?
In last week's episode, Donna explained to Brooke that she had no shot at being the final girl because horror movies always "kill folks off with my complexion first." But the reformed villain has already proven herself to be the exception to this rule, given that she's made it all the way to 1984's last episode, which will find Donna and Brooke trying to get their revenge on Margaret.
While Angelica Ross couldn't reveal whether Donna is going to make it out of the finale alive, when speaking with TV Guide, she did share a few teases for what fans can expect of the finale, her reaction when she learned the final girl's identity, and what it's been like joining the American Horror Story family.
You worked with Ryan Murphy on Pose before, but this was your first season as part of American Horror Story. What has this experience been like for you?
Angelica Ross: It's felt like a graduation a little bit. ... There was a lot of hesitation when, you know, we're talking about trans actors and trans people playing trans roles and thinking that, OK, well they can work in this niche telling trans stories or doing these things. And Ryan's illustrating this thing that goes beyond those boundaries, especially when it comes to undeniable talent and fortune like [Pose's] Janet Mock, like myself, like Indya Moore, like Mj [Rodriguez], like Dominique [Jackson], who is going on to American Gods as well. So it's been great to be able to, for me, do what I know I was meant to do.
Your character has gone on such a big journey this season from when we first met her as Nurse Rita through now. What was your favorite part of getting to develop Donna's arc this season?
Ross: I think the favorite part for me was the moment that we saw the twist happen with Donna releasing Mr. Jingles. What's funny is that this is the second time that I've been cast in a role where I feel like my objective has been to make the audience want to cheer me on and make them want to see that I deserve to live, both with Candy [on Pose] and with Donna. And so with all things considered — with me being trans, with [Candy] being HIV positive, with her doing sex work, with [Donna] setting Jingles free, with [Donna] having a serial killer for a father — with all of these things considered, as an actor, I had to come up with sort of like my overriding objective throughout the season. And so when I saw that twist, it was perfect for me because I'm a humanitarian and I do believe in the good in all people and I tried to help be a part of bringing that out of people. So it gave me the ability to talk about, like, how many bunnies had to die in order to get the formula right for my hand cream. It just really helped in these moments where it was questionable whether or not you wanted this person to survive. And now to be at a place where the fans are like, we want you to be our final girl — the odds are against me being the black, you know, a black final girl. But in Ryan Murphy's universe, sometimes anything can happen.
The fans really have rallied around Donna this season. What is it like for you seeing all these people rooting for her to be the final girl?
Ross: It's incredible because I feel like it just proves the point again. Sometimes being trans is not the most interesting thing about me or about a story. So to see a huge fan base commenting, tweeting, posting, and doing art and doing all these things, and almost no mention of me being trans, it gives me hope that I'll continue to have a career supported by fans who just see me as an actor that they want to continue to see on TV.
At one point in the season, Richard Ramirez tells Donna that she inherited her father's evil. Do you think this is true?
Ross: Yes and no. ... When Donna saw Ramirez starting to float and get brought back to life, that pretty much changed the game for her. Because all the research, all the other things that she thought before, she's now, like she says in the one of the episodes, "I kind of know what's waiting for us on the other side and I don't want to go there." And so she's realizing — and I feel like, as a Buddhist, I realized as well — is that the reality is that there's Mara or evil or bad in us all, and that it really comes down to what you choose to do with that energy. It really does come down to that. ... So Donna really realized that she just didn't want to hurt anyone else. And that's why she tells Brooke, she says, if we can come here and kill this bitch Margaret without hurting anyone else in the process, then it will wash away every sh--y thing that we've ever done. That's her intention.
Going into this finale, Brooke and Donna want to kill Margaret, the ghosts want to kill everyone attending the festival, and Margaret, Ramirez, and Bruce want to kill all the musicians at the festival. What is it that does make Brooke and Donna different from the others, given that they're all plotting murder?
Ross: [Laughs] That's a good question. What I think that makes them different is that they want to stop the violence. Like again, Donna says to Jingles, it's time to stop the violence. And with people like Margaret, who wants to profit off of violence, as long as she's alive, they'll be sort of a legacy of that. Because that's what Margaret has been trying to create, is this legacy. And they want to end it. And I'm all for rooting for the heroes that want to end the violence. And sometimes, look, that means killing bad guys.
Donna has been working so hard to get her redemption and clean her karmic slate. Do you believe that's possible for her?
Ross: I personally believe that redemption is totally possible for her. As she told Mr. Jingles ... she's like, yes, no one is irredeemable. And here's the thing: no one is irredeemable that wants to be redeemed. So I think that's sort of the clarifying statement, because there are people who are irredeemable because they choose not to be redeemed. And I think that we have to take a different stance towards people like that, towards situations that are not good for the greater good. The whole thing about cancel culture and people talking about cancel culture like it's a bad thing, the reality is people are not trying to create cancel culture; it's accountability culture. And the reality is is that there's certain people who want to dig their heels in and say, "I want to still call you a man. I want to still use the N-word. I want to still build that wall. I want to still keep Muslims out of my country. I want to still keep trans people out of the military. Or I want to still say misogynistic things." It's just an accountability — that once you show that there's something that needs to be redeemed, we need to change this, there needs to be a rest restorative justice, and somebody sticks their heels and then it's like, OK, well bitch, you gotta die. [Laughs]
Donna and Brooke decided not to kill Bruce; they were trying to do the right thing. But now he's at Camp Redwood, killing more people and plotting his revenge against them. Do you think it was a mistake?
Ross: Absolutely. I absolutely think it was a mistake. Listen, Donna said, "Hell no, I'm choking this motherf--er out! We cannot let him get away with this!" Like, that was her stance. So if we had left it up to her, he would have been done. Curtains. But, you know, Brooke decided to let him live and send a message out to other men like him out in the world, but I don't think that message computed.
How would you describe the finale, and what can fans expect of this episode?
Ross: With so many people plotting revenge and murder, it's most definitely going to be a bloodbath. The only question is who's going to survive it. And I think with the final girl trope and things like that — the episode is called "Final Girl," so it seems one person is going to survive. I know at least Donna made it to the final episode and I'm proud of her for that. But I know that she's intent on killing Margaret. But everybody's intent on killing Margaret, so I'm not sure who's going to kill Margaret but I hope somebody does for the culture. We can't let that bitch survive. We can't let her survive.
What was your reaction when you found out who the final girl was going to be?
Ross: I can't really say because I never expected any of this. I never expected all of the twists and turns, I didn't even know where this season was going at all. So once we finally filmed the final thing, the final scenes and everything, it just was not what any of us expected. I think that everybody is going to be just on the edge of their seats. And some people are going to be happy and I think some people are not going to be happy and, you know, that's storytelling, right? We can't all survive.
Are you open to returning for Season 10? And if so, what type of character would you like to play next?
Ross: I am totally open for another season of American Horror Story. I have no idea where they're going next. But if they do happen to visit Coven again, I definitely feel like there's a witch vibe in me somewhere that I can pull out.
The American Horror Story: 1984 finale will air Wednesday at 10/9c on FX.