‘Pose’ star Mj Rodriguez just made Emmys history. She told us what it means to her

Mj Rodriguez in a bright pink outfit in a scene from "Pose."
Mj Rodriguez as Blanca in the final season of “Pose.”
(Eric Liebowitz / FX)

Pose” went out with a bang Tuesday morning, earning a history-making Emmy nomination for star Mj Rodriguez — making her the first transgender performer to earn a nomination in a lead acting category. (Laverne Cox previously was nominated for her work on “Orange Is the New Black” in the guest acting category.)

“It’s a big step — a huge step forward for us — and I’m very, very thankful, and I just hope that it continues,” Rodriguez told The Times after learning of the nomination. “I never thought in a million years I’d be in this category with all these amazing women — shout out and congratulations to all of the nominees, amazing actresses, amazing outstanding performances; they are astounding, and I’m just glad I can be right along with them.”

Rodriguez plays Blanca, the mother of the House of Evangelista, in the FX series about New York’s LGBTQ ballroom scene amid the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and early ’90s. The series’ third season was its last.


Speaking by phone from the South of France, the ebullient Rodriguez said: “When it happened, I just remember my mom grabbing me and throwing me around and my godmother gave me a hug and I fell into my boyfriend’s arms and started crying. My mom twirled me so hard I was almost off the ground.”

When asked to unpack all the layers of the nomination — the first in her career, for a show she loved that is now over, and as the first trans woman to get a lead nod — she said that apart from being a trans woman, “Having all these intersectionalities slammed on top of being an African-American woman, and being Latina, and being a person who represents for females in general and identifies as a woman ... I’m just glad I can represent for each and every last one of those communities. I have tried my best to be a great light for that, and I’m glad that the industry is seeing that.

“With the show coming to an end, it’s bittersweet, but what a beautiful way to go out. Nine nominations.”

In a statement, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis called Rodriguez’ nomination “a breakthrough for transgender women in Hollywood, and a long-overdue recognition for her groundbreaking performance over the past three seasons of ‘Pose.’ ” Ellis said the show “undoubtedly raised the bar for trans representation on television and changed the way viewers around the world understand the trans community.”

“Pose” racked up nine Emmy nominations in all, including its second for best drama series and the third for 2019 winner Porter. It also received nods for writing, directing, costumes, hairstyling, makeup and prosthetic makeup. Additionally, “Pose: Identity, Family, Community” earned a nod for short form nonfiction or reality series.


Next up for Rodriguez: A comedy series with Maya Rudolph. She said her character, Molly, is “the complete opposite of Blanca — she’s dryly funny. I’ve been wanting to flex my comic muscles for a minute. It’s time to make some people happy and laugh.”

In a recent interview with ‘The Late Show’ host Stephen Colbert, Mj Rodriguez discussed the final season of ‘Pose’ — and her dream MCU role.

May 18, 2021

After being nominated for “Pose,” Rodriguez told The Times, “I can only thank the academy for really, really seeing us. I feel now that the door has been pushed wide open for us and every last person, especially trans women, trans women of color, to really show up and show out and show that we deserve to be in these spaces — not just because we’re trans or because we’re women or people of color, but because we’re human and we have something to offer when it comes to our craft.

“That I get to be with these strong female actresses — that’s a big, big monument. That speaks volumes. It’s showing we are who are, and it feels so good. It feels so darn good!”