Mj Rodriguez Makes Emmy History as First Trans Woman Nominated in Major Acting Category

On Tuesday, May 13th, Mj Rodriguez made history as the first trans woman to be nominated for an Emmy in a lead acting category.

Rodriguez was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her turn as Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista, a trans woman with HIV, who forms her own ballroom house, House Evangelista, and in the show’s third and final season, works as a nurse aid in a hospital ward.

Speaking with Variety after receiving her nomination, Rodriguez said, “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. 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.”

While Rodriguez is the first trans woman to earn an Emmy nod in a major acting category, Laverne Cox was the first trans performer to be nominated at the Emmys; she received four Outstanding Guest Actress looks for her work on Orange Is the New Black. Last year, Rain Valdaz became the second trans performer to receive a nomination when she was tapped for Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for her work on Razor Tongue.

Rodriguez’s Emmy nomination was one of six nominations for Pose. The show is up for Outstanding Drama Series, while Rodriguez’s co-star Billy Porter is once again nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (he won that prize in 2019). The Pose series finale also earned co-creator Steven Canals an Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series nod, while he, Our Lady J, Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Janet Mock are up for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for their work on the finale. Pose’s head of makeup effects, Thomas Denier Jr., also earned a nomination for Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup.

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