Her huge-hearted portrayal of Blanca has made Rodriguez the first trans performer to be up for a leading actress Emmy. Will she take the crown on Sunday? We join her for a Zoom call with a twist
MJ Rodriguez can see me but I can’t see her. This is not the sort of existential issue that afflicted pre-pandemic interviews, but minutes before my Zoom encounter with the actor and singer I get an email from Rodriguez’s rep saying she will no longer be appearing on camera. This comes hot on the heels of another message saying Rodriguez, who this year became the first trans actor in history to be nominated for an Emmy award in a lead acting category, for her fantastic performance in Pose, would rather I didn’t ask her about the ballroom scene. Which is basically the entire world of Pose, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s era-defining drama, set in the New York underground vogueing culture of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
I take from this nervy preamble two things. First, constantly being seen as the living embodiment of the importance of representation is exhausting, and curiously diminishing. And second, Rodriguez is ready to walk out of the shadow of her character on Pose: Blanca Evangelista, the no-nonsense “house mother” who takes all of queer New York under her wing, has a seemingly never-ending supply of wise words for them, and a heart bigger than any disco ball.