Mj Rodriguez‘s acclaimed portrayal of Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista on the series Pose, a period drama about ballroom culture. Rodriguez, who is of Afro-Puerto Rican descent, just made history after receiving an Emmy nomination in the lead drama actress category for her role. She’s now made history as the first transgender Emmy nominee for a major acting category, a major win for the trans community especially in a time when visibility and representation remain low. She starred in the series during it’s entire run from June 3, 2018 to June 6 2021 alongside a cast that also included Billy Porter and fellow trans actor, Indya Moore, who is of Haitian, Puerto Rican, and Dominican descent. The nomination marks her first-ever recognition from the Television Academy and it comes after the series aired its final season.
“I do believe this is a pivotal moment. There’s never been a trans woman who has been nominated as a leading outstanding 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 told Variety.
She is the third openly transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy following actress and filmmaker Rain Valdez, who received an outstanding actress in a short form comedy or drama series nom for Razor Tongue in 2020, and Laverne Cox who in 2014 made history as the Emmy’s first ever openly transgender actor nominated for her role as Sophia Burset in Netflix’s acclaimed series Orange Is The New Black.
Despite Pose earning 11 Emmy nomination over its first two seasons, not a single member of the series’ predominantly trans female cast had ever been recognized prior to this year. Only Rodriguez and Billy Porter received noms, Porter was nominated for lead drama actor for the third consecutive time for his role of Pray Tell, ballroom emcee having previously won in 2019.
“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. 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.”
The Emmys will air on Sunday, September 19 on CBS and Paramount+ and if she wins she’ll also make history as the first-ever trans performer to take home an Emmy.