Following POSE’s third and final season, MJ Rodriguez has become the first trans woman nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series at the Emmy’s for her portrayal of Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista. She talks to Oliver Hall about this groundbreaking moment.
At the virtual press conference, MJ (Michaela) Rodriguez is clearly thrilled to have been a part of POSE’s three seasons, not only for the life-changing impact it has had on her career but because she knows the show has genuinely helped people and made a positive change in the world.
“Specifically to the youth,” she says, “now you know that it is extremely possible. Now you know that it is reachable and it is obtainable to not only be a part of an amazing show that encompasses not just the G, but the L, the B, and the T, but also knowing your worth, not just through the work that you see on television, but in actual real life, knowing how much you are worth to keep going and that each and every last one of our stories through these characters is a testament to how possible it is to achieve your dream.”
Rodriguez can speak to this more than most, her dreams have come true as a lead actress with an Emmy nomination.
“I’ve actually solidified my roots and actually being a leading lady next to the leading man of a great show. It’s possible, it’s obtainable.”
Rodriguez wants to see the momentum continue and for us to see more trans actors in lead roles and on awards lists. “I just hope that it carries through,” she tells us. Advising the talent following in her footsteps to “know your worth.”
One of the most exciting aspects of Rodriguez’s success is the input she got to have with her character and storylines.
“I had been a part of the industry at a very young age, and what came with that was me feeling like I had to be limited in what I had to say and how I had to speak or if I had even opportunity to speak up. So, I was always this closed-off person. I was just the girl [who’d] show up and just do the job.”
That changed with POSE, where it’s clear Rodriguez felt heard by the writers and directors she worked with.
“I never had an opportunity like this on a television and film — a television show where I got to actually have the range that I never thought I could have in the other productions or the other things that I was involved in. I think that’s what the best thing for me was, is that I was able to have the liberty to speak even when I was afraid to speak. I had the liberty to delve into the character like how I wanted to and not be questioned, but still have small notes here and there. Sometimes that’s what you need in order to fulfil the journey of the character that you’re creating or the process that you want to put into the character.”
“It’s taught me a lot from the first season until the third season. I feel like not only did Blanca have an evolution, but I, Michaela, MJ Rodriguez had an evolution too… moving forward, I feel like I’ll be able to do that in any other project I go into. “
While moving on from POSE is bittersweet for Rodriguez, she is excited for what the future holds for her and other trans women of colour who are trying to make it in industries that have so often ignored them.
POSE’s final season is streaming on NEON now.