Michaela Antonia Jaé Rodriguez, better known by her stage name Mj Rodriguez, is an actress and singer from the United States.

Rodriguez is most recognised for her role as Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista in the television drama ‘Pose’, in which she is one of the most prominent transgender actors in a scripted series.

Also Read | Mj Rodriguez, first trans woman to be nominated in Emmy lead actress category

With her nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 2021, she became the first transgender woman to get an Emmy nomination in a major acting category. She is also recognised for her Clive Barnes Award-winning performance as Angel in the 2011 Off-Broadway production of ‘Rent’.

Although she had wanted to become an actor since she was seven years old, she only started acting when her mother enrolled her in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center at the age of eleven.

In an interview, Rodriguez stated that she had “prayed to become female” since she was seven years old, but that she was in denial for several years until coming out to her parents as “bisexual/gay” at the age of 14. Rodriguez became involved in the ballroom scene when she was 14 years old, with the help of her house father, who taught her how to vogue.

Being a self-described comic book nerd, she finally chose the stage name “MJ” Rodriguez after the Marvel Comics character Mary Jane “MJ” Watson, by stringing the letters together from her own name.

Also Read | Michaela Coel’s ‘I May Destroy You’ finally earns nod, see full list of Emmy nominees here

Rodriguez is only the third openly transgender person in Emmy history to be nominated. Despite Emmy’s limited history of honouring transgender talent and stories, Rodriguez’s nomination on Tuesday establishes a new, welcome benchmark for who can be the best actress contender (or winner) for years to come.

She follows multi-hyphenate actor and filmmaker Rain Valdez, who was nominated for an Emmy for outstanding actress in a short-form comedy or drama series for ‘Razor Tongue’ in 2020, and Laverne Cox, who was the first openly transgender actor to be nominated for her role as Sophia Burset in Netflix’s ‘Orange Is The New Black’ in 2014.