An army of Emmys viewers rooted Sunday night for “Pose” star Michaela Jaé “Mj” Rodriguez, who made history this year as the first transgender performer to receive a nomination in a lead acting category.
She ended up losing to “The Crown” star Olivia Colman — but that snub sure didn’t stop fans of the FX drama from touting Rodriguez’s groundbreaking achievements.
“No matter what the ‘industry voters’ say— MJ Rodriguez is a winner in our eyes and is doing an incredible job amplifying trans voices on television and in media,” tweeted comedian and filmmaker Sampson McCormick. “Bravo!”
“I’m celebrating Michaela Jaé (Mj) Rodriguez tonight,” wrote Alex Schmider, associate director of trans representation at GLAAD. “Thank you for … expanding the representation of possibility to so many of us.”
After overlooking her acclaimed work on the small screen for years, the TV Academy finally recognized Rodriguez for her breakout turn as Blanca, the compassionate matriarch of the House of Evangelista, in the Emmy-winning period drama about the LGBTQ+ ballroom scene in New York City.
In July, the trailblazing artist earned an Emmy nomination for lead actress in a drama series alongside Colman, Uzo Aduba (“In Treatment”), Emma Corrin (“The Crown”), Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and Jurnee Smollett (“Lovecraft Country”).
According to Variety, only two openly trans actors had received Emmy nominations before Rodriguez: Laverne Cox in the guest drama actress category for “Orange Is the New Black,” and Rain Valdez in the short-form comedy or drama actress category for “Razor Tongue.”
“i love olivia coleman but damn,” one person tweeted. “mj rodriguez has been the heart and soul of Pose from the first minute. her performance this last season was incredible and, while awards aren’t everything, i wish she was leaving with that trophy tonight.”
“MJ Rodriguez should’ve gotten Emmy recognition from the very beginning of POSE,” wrote another. “The way she CARRIED that show. At the very least, glad she was finally nominated for Season 3. We will forever miss Mother Blanca.”
Also snubbed Sunday for his emotional turn as ballroom emcee Pray Tell in “Pose” was Billy Porter, who became the first openly gay Black man to win the Emmy for lead actor in a drama series in 2019.
He was nominated for that honor again in 2020, while his trans costars were shut out for the second year in a row. On Sunday, Porter lost to Josh O’Connor of “The Crown,” which claimed all seven drama series awards in a historic sweep. “Pose” was also up this year for drama series.
At Sunday’s ceremony, Rodriguez and Porter joined forces onstage to present the award for supporting actress in a limited series, which went to Julianne Nicholson for “Mare of Easttown.”
“POSE losing an Emmy is no surprise to me,” one person tweeted. “[The TV Academy has] been doing it since the beginning. Snubbing the cast during season 2 was already a red flag. And MJ Rodriguez not winning? IT’S OVER.”
“I’m genuinely sad that MJ Rodriguez didn’t win especially because she put her whole heart into Pose,” wrote another. “[S]he was the heart of Pose … and she’s my winner.”
Porter and Rodriguez were among many Emmy nominees of color — including every nonwhite actor — who walked away from Sunday’s show empty-handed, prompting #EmmysSoWhite to begin trending on social media.
See more praise for Rodriguez below.