MJ Rodriguez created history by becoming the first trans woman to be nominated for a lead actress role at the 2021 Emmy Awards. She was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista, a trans woman who forms her own ballroom house.
Speaking about the achievement in an interview with People, the actress said:
“I’m excited. I’m lifted. I’m thankful. I’m humbled and I’m grateful. I feel like this moment in time has never ever happened for a girl like myself and I feel like it’s time and it’s time to keep showing up. It doesn’t stop here.”
The 30-year-old added that she won’t stop working because of the milestone. She wants to continue giving her best and set an example for other trans women who wish to move forward in their lives.
MJ Rodriguez has credited underdogs and residents of unrecognized areas — where being transgender is not easily accepted — as being her inspiration to play the part of her character in Pose.
Who is MJ Rodriguez?
Born on January 7, 1991, Michaela Antonia Jae Rodriguez is a well-known actress and singer.
Her mother was African-American and her father was half Puerto Rican and half African-American. She did her schooling at Queen of Angels Catholic School.
MJ Rodriguez wished to become an actress at the age of seven and began pursuing her dream when she was 11. After enrolling in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, she became an eight-year expert in the program and participated in their Youth Theater Program.
The Newark, New Jersey native graduated from Newark Arts High School and attended Berklee College of Music. Her stage name, “Mj Rodriguez” is inspired by the Marvel Comics character Mary Jane “MJ” Watson.
When she was in college, MJ Rodriguez was cast as Angel Dumott Schunard in a theater production of the rock musical, Rent. She even won the 2011 Clive Barnes Award for Rent.
She then took a small break for her transition. After that, she began working on stage and played small roles in television series. Between 2012-16, she featured in shows such as Nurse Jackie, The Carrie Diaries and Luke Cage.
MJ Rodriguez played the lead role in the FX television series, Pose, in 2017, where she was part of the biggest cast of transgender actresses to appear as series regulars in a scripted series.