“Pose” star and Newark native makes history

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Mj Rodriguez posing in a grey dress
Mj Rodriguez

Pose cast member Mj Rodriguez was nominated for an Emmy

Newark, NJ native Mj Rodriguez made history when the Pose actor became the first trans woman to be nominated for an Emmy in the outstanding lead actress category. Rodriguez played Blanca Rodriguez, house mother of House Evangelista, on the FX series about New York’s fabled ballroom scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The nomination last week marks a significant step in recognition of trans actors and actresses. Before Rodriguez, only two trans performers had received Emmy nominations. Laverne Cox was the first trans woman to ever be nominated for an Emmy in 2014 in the guest drama actress category for her role as Sophia Burset on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black—she would be nominated in the same category in 2017, 2019, and 2020. Rain Valdez of Razor Tongue was nominated last year in the short-form comedy or drama actress category. In contrast, Jeffrey Tambor, who is a cisgender straight man, received three Emmy nominations for portraying a trans woman on Amazon’s Transparent, with him winning trophies in 2015 and 2016.

“I do believe this is a pivotal moment. There’s never been a trans woman who has been nominated as an outstanding leading actress. And I feel like that pushes the needle forward so much, for now, the door to be knocked down for so many people—whether they be male or trans female, gender nonconforming, LGBTQIA+, it does not matter,” Rodriguez said in an interview with Variety.

“A moment like this extends and opens and elongates the possibilities of what’s going to happen, and I believe the Academy is definitely making it possible, and their eyes are more than open,” said Rodrigues. “Yes, I do believe they’re going to continue, and I also feel like we’re going to keep speaking and encouraging and informing, and educating people around the world. I think that’s the most important thing.”

Pose, which wrapped its third and final season earlier this year, featured a heavily LGBTQ cast, more than any show on television. However, only fellow Pose cast member Billy Porter was nominated alongside Rodriguez as the lead drama actor. The nomination is Porter’s third for his portrayal of ballroom emcee Pray Tell. He won in 2019, the show’s first season.

Pose was also nominated in the drama series category, drama writing, drama directing, contemporary costumes, contemporary hairstyling, contemporary makeup (non-prosthetic), and prosthetic makeup.

The 73rd annual Emmys will air on September 19 on CBS and Paramount+ streaming.

J.L. Gaynor is Out In Jersey’s news editor, having spent eight years in the newsrooms of two major New Jersey papers. A Jersey girl through and through: born, raised, and educated in New Jersey. She has two dogs she adores, and reads just about anything she can get her hands on.