Somewhere in the south of France, wine was waiting. Four hours after her 73rd Primetime Emmy nomination was announced – and Mj Rodriguez became the first trans artist to get a nod in the leading acting category – she still hadn’t had a sip.
She said in a phone call that her cheeks hurt more than smiling. He was running around to answer calls and hadn’t had a chance to sit down. But he could go into town later, he added, and look at the water.
Rodriguez earned her nomination for her role as trans woman Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista in the FX period drama “Pose.” He talked about how it feels to make history from France, why others can do the same and remember to flex the muscles of comedy. These are edited excerpts from our talk.
Not sure about time zones – is this a good time?
A totally good time. I mean, it’s 9:30 here, but girl, I’ll be up all night. I’ll be at cloud nine all night. Even I can’t.
How did you react when you heard the news?
I went up I got my iPad, and I got my phone and I said, OK, I’m going to record this moment, no matter what. If it’s a departure, if no – it will be marked “We went out with a bang” no matter what.
We were watching and the moment my name was announced, we all started screaming. And my mother caught me, gleefully threw me off completely. My godmother gave me the biggest hug. “You deserved this!” seemed to say. And I remember falling into my boyfriend’s arms and crying profusely in his arms and being so grateful. I collapsed in tears. Literally right after that I got a call from Steven Canals and he found out. his news on the phone.
What do you want trans women to take away from this historic moment?
I want trans women, and especially trans women of color – especially trans and young girls of color – to eliminate more of this than is possible. If you are persistent, with your eyes on the prize, if you don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, you will live and live knowing that your existence is worth it and that you have a purpose in this world.
I’m a girl from northern New Jersey. I did not receive all that was given to me and yet I managed to have the foundation of my mother and family standing behind me and the love that lifted me up to move me forward. So if they could, then I know there are other people out there who can do it.
It can be a lot of pressure to represent so many different communities like Afro-Latinos, trans women, talented fashion designers. What inspires you to keep going?
The happiness of my congregation, their love for me. All intersections of my community – whether it’s my Black community, my Latino community, the LGBTQAI community, the women’s community – I feel like that’s what brings me joy. And more importantly, I love waking up in the morning and just seeing life and seeing how beautiful the world is and seeing that I am a part of it that changes it. So my existence in this world, for that I am very grateful.
What other Latinx LGBTQ figures would you like to see on screen next?
I want to see more. I want to see some Latino, disabled, LGBTQAI members on the TV screen. Show shows that talk about stories like this one. I want to see more lesbian Latina devotions on TV. I want to see more LGBTQ Latina movies and movies distributed. Despite the beauty of all this, there is much more work to be done. I feel like there is so much more. And it’s coming.
This nomination was for a drama series, but you will be working on a drama soon. comedy with Maya Rudolph. How do you prepare to stretch your comedy muscles?
I’m a stupid, stupid, crazy girl and I want people to grasp what Michaela Jaé has to offer when it comes to her funny side. So I definitely flex them. Not many people have a chance to see it, but they will see it on this show very soon. I really can’t wait. They will see a completely different multifaceted character.