Learning of her historic Emmy nomination, Mj Rodriguez of “Pose” had one overwhelming feeling: “I felt so seen.”
“I felt represented and I felt seen,” said Rodriguez, who scored the first major acting Emmy nod for a trans performer. “And … more accepted than I have felt in a long time. I felt like my colleagues now see me, my acting colleagues see me, and the people who are surrounded by the arts see me, and how much I want to give the world the love to my craft and my art.”
The nom for Rodriguez, who plays house mother and nurse Blanca in the FX show about ballroom culture in the 1980s and ’90s that recently ended its third and final season, was one of several nods for the show, including best actor for Billy Porter and best drama.
The series from Steven Canals and Ryan Murphy broke ground with the casting of transgender actors as trans.
Rodriguez, 30, spoke in an interview on Zoom Tuesday from Cannes, France, where she’s attending the film festival. It had been a long night: She hadn’t been able to sleep, in anticipation. “I had a lot looming through my mind,” she said. “I was up until 8 o’clock in the morning.”
When the news came, “My mom and my godmother (were) sitting at the dining table. And the moment my name was announced, I just screamed and I broke. And my mom grabbed me. She kind of like flung me around. I gave her a hug. She swung me around a little bit. And I just remember falling into my boyfriend’s arms and just crying. Tears of joy, tears of happiness.”
Rodriguez and her family were not alone in their joy or recognition of the enormity of the moment. Sarah Kate Ellis of GLAAD, the LGBTQ+ organization, called her nomination “a breakthrough for transgender women in Hollywood, and a long-overdue recognition for her groundbreaking performance over the past three seasons of ‘Pose’” — a show that, Ellis said, “undoubtedly raised the bar for trans representation on television and changed the way viewers around the world understand the trans community.”
The group had joined with dozens of other organizations in an open letter urging Emmy voters to show their support for the show and especially for its transgender and nonbinary actors.
Rodriguez said she was grateful to know “that we are finally being seen the way we need to be seen, and that our stories can now be seen as human stories. It just opens the diaspora, opens everything even more. There are limitless amounts of stories that can now be told, simply because of this happening.”