Yes Ma’am: MJ Rodriguez Just Made Emmy History

Photo: Rosdiana Ciaravolo/Getty Images.
Although the heartwarming stories of FX’s Pose have officially come to an end with its recent series finale, there’s still much to celebrate concerning the revolutionary original series, especially regarding its well-deserved inclusion among the 2021 Emmy nominees. The industry is going up for Pose’s leading lady MJ Rodriguez in particular, congratulating the actress on the history-making nomination that makes her the first transgender woman to ever be up for an Emmy in a lead acting category.
In a pleasant twist, the nominations for the 73rd Annual Emmy Awards are jammed tight with productions and performances so flawless that it will be damn near impossible to decide the winner across most categories. The announcement revealed that Rodriguez was among the names vying for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, her very first Emmy nomination for her role of Blanca Evangelista on Pose. In the three-season FX original series, a Ryan Murphy brainchild, Rodriguez's Blanca was the glue that held her family together. Through ups and downs, sickness and health, Blanca fought for the happiness of her loved ones with spirit. She got her happy ending in the recent season finale of the beloved show (including a fabulous gig as a registered nurse and Jeremy Pope on her arm as her boyfriend), wrapping up a beautiful story about the spirit of the LGBTQ community and ballroom culture that surpasses time.
Even as it built up a dedicated fanbase after its premiere 2018, the show was still widely ignored among critics; though its ratings were sky high, and its cultural impact was indisputable, Pose was still getting shut out of award shows. (Billy Porter did win the 2019 Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, but none of the transwomen on the cast have received such accolades.)
Fortunately, the tide has fortunately turned for Rodriguez with the history-making announcement. In addition to her nomination, Pose also boasts another Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series nod for Porter and nominations in seven other categories including Outstanding Drama Series. In conversation with Indiewire, the actress shared her initial reaction to the massive Emmy news.
"It’s astounding, and it’s not just for me. I’m winning for so many people out there, so many babies out there, the generation that comes after me — that’s who it’s for, it’s not for me,” she told the outlet during a phone conversation. “I’ve always prided myself on sending love through my art, through my work, through my craft, and I feel like now the people that I’ve always wanted to see me, see me.”
“Breaking barriers through intersectionality was one of the biggest things for me. I represent so many things. I represent womanhood, I represent trans-ness, I represent Blackness, and I represent Latinx community,” Rodriguez continued. “I represent all those communities, so to know that I’m speaking for every single last piece of those communities, it just shows what the human condition looks like. Every single last person in all of those communities are human, and I always wanted to speak for the human race, so I get to do that through intersectionality, it’s everything!”
The recognition from the industry is long overdue, but even before Rodriguez was nominated for an Emmy, her role as Blanca and the concept of Pose were setting the tone for a new dawn in Hollywood. Though queer stories were not necessarily uncommon in the past, Pose paved a path for Black and brown narratives within the community to take center stage, no doubt helping make room for other enlightening masterpieces like HBO Max's Legendary and Netflix's Disclosure. Pose may be over, but the fire behind the show can never be put out — if anything, it's set to only burn brighter in the future.
Find out if Rodriguez can take home the win when the 73rd Annual Emmy Award s air on Sunday September 19, 2021.

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