Pose star Mj Rodriguez refuses to be put in a box: ‘I can play trans, cis, superhero, alien’

Mj Rodriguez as Blanca in Pose

Pose star Mj Rodriguez wants to play any role in future – not just trans characters.

Rodriguez made history when she received an Emmy nomination for her portrayal of Blanca in Pose – she is the first trans actor to be up for a leading actress Emmy.

But while she appreciates the way that Pose broke through and brought trans characters into people’s homes, she doesn’t want to be typecast as “the trans actress” in future.

“I want to be able to play anything,” Rodriguez told the Guardian. “It’s about whether I’m the right person to tell the story of this character, whether she’s trans, cis, gender non-conforming, a monster, superhero or alien.”

“I want to be seen as a human being first,” she continued, adding: “What comes after is my being African American, Latina, a trans woman. I just want people to see me as a performer. An actress.

“When you keep reading, ‘She’s the first trans performer to do this, the first trans woman to be nominated for that’, I wonder how people start to perceive me. I would love it if my trans-ness was not always the leading cause of why I am celebrated.

“When people watch me singing on stage I don’t want them to be thinking about my trans-ness. I want them to be thinking: ‘Who’s that girl up there? She’s turning it!'”

But Rodriguez admitted: “That’s what I wish, but I also know the world.”

Pose star up for Emmy against Emma Corrin

Pose star Mj Rodriguez is nominated in the Lead Actress, Drama category, where she will go up against Emma Corrin and Olivia Colman of The Crown, Uzo Aduba (In Treatment), Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Jurnee Smollett (Lovecraft Country).

It’s a stunning acknowledgement of Rodriguez’s performance in the groundbreaking drama series, which bowed out earlier this year with an abridged third season.

In previous years Rodriguez and her trans castmates have been ignored by the Emmys, with Billy Porter the only actor to win a nomination, for Lead Actor, Drama, in both 2019 – when he won – and 2020.

Speaking to PinkNews before her nomination, Mj Rodriguez said she was “hopeful” the Emmys would recognise her work.

“I don’t know how it works, but I’m speaking it into the universe that one day it’ll happen,” she said.

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