Who is Mj Rodriguez: MJ Rodriguez was nominated in the Best Actress, Drama category Of Emmy Awards for the final season of Pose yesterday. Rodriguez is now the first transgender person to earn a nomination in a major acting category at the awards. Her fierce and formidable portrayal of house mother and nurse Blanca Evangelista on FXâ????s period drama Pose has been lauded by critics and fans alike.
This nomination is significant for LGBTQIA-plus representation at the Emmys. Before Rodriguez, only two openly transgender performers received Emmy’s attention. The first to pick up an Emmy nomination was Laverne Cox who was nominated in the Guest Drama Actress category for her work as former inmate Sophia in Orange is the New Black in 2014. Cox later received three more nominations, all in the same category, in 2017, 2019 and 2020. The second in line, Rain Valdez of Razor Tongue earned a short-form comedy or Best Actress in Drama nomination in 2020.
â????I do believe this is a pivotal moment,” Rodriguez told Variety. She explained how thereâ????s never been a trans woman nominated as a leading outstanding actress before her and said it’s a moment like this that extends, opens and further elongates the possibilities of whatâ????s going to change in the future of acting. Whether they be male or trans female, gender nonconforming, LGBTQIA+, it does not matter, she added. According to the actor, the community at large is now going to keep speaking and encouraging and informing and educating people around the world. If Rodriguez wins an Emmy this year, she will make history as the first-ever transgender performer to take home the trophy.
Who is Mj Rodriguez?
Growing up in New Jersey, Rodriguez was assigned as male at birth and was given the name Michael Anthony Rodriguez Jr. She was born to an African-American mother and an Afro-Puerto Rican father, who raised her in Newark. Seeing her love for acting at a young age, her mother enrolled her in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center at age 11. She graduated high school from Newarks Art High School and pursued performing arts at Berklee College of Music.
Before her transition, she decided to take on a stage name while pursuing acting and singing. She chose the name Mj. She was then appeared in a theater production of Rent as Angel Dumott Schunard in college. Her performance impressed actor Fredi Walker-Browne, who offered her the same role in the off-Broadway production of Rent. According to Broadway.com, Mjâ????s performance in the production garnered her the 2011 Clive Barnes Award at the age of 20.
The transition happened in 2012 when Mj felt that she was truly a female. She came out to her parents in 2014. â????I got into a stage of trying to be content with the person that I was betraying,â???? she told Playbill in 2016. Four years later, after getting hormone replacement therapy in early 2016, Mj reemerged and officially identified as a female using she/her pronouns.
She then grabbed minor roles in television shows like Nurse Jackie,Â The Carrie Diaries, andÂ Luke Cage, and was even invited to audition for Hamilton on Broadway. Her big break came two years ago when she was cast as the lead female role in Pose. The series changed television forever when it broke ground as the first-ever show to have a predominantly transgender cast. It has not only received worldwide attention and praise for its inclusive cast but also for its exploration of Black queer people living in New York City in the 1980s.
The award-winning actor is inspiring a whole generation of transgender and nonbinary artists through her incredibly diverse career in broadway, television and film. In 2019, the 30-year old star was honored at the Outfest Legacy Awards.
The Emmy Awards will air on Sunday, September 19 on CBS.
Feature Image Credit: Allure