Mj Rodriguez First Trans Woman to Win Best Actress Imagen Award

Actor Mj Rodriguez celebrated a historic win on August 11 when she became the first transgender woman in history to win the Best Actress - Television at the Imagen Awards. Rodriguez won the award for her role as Blanca on “Pose,” the critically acclaimed FX show.

The Imagen Awards honor positive representations of Latinx people in media. Rodriguez’s co-stars attended the annual event, where the show won for Best Primetime Program - Drama in a tie with CBS’ “Magnum PI.”

“It’s so crazy to be standing up here because you’d never think in a million years you’d get an award like this being a woman like me,” Rodriguez said while accepting her award, according to Attitude.

“Obviously, this is not just for me. This is for the little kids like me… and I’m just trying to speak as much as I can for my community as possible and that goes for my Latino community.”

Rodriguez thanked her mother, “Pose” co-creators Steven Canals and Ryan Murphy, and director Janet Mock in her speech. She later thanked her co-star Billy Porter on Twitter after he congratulated her for being “HERstoric.”

“Billy, my brother, you have kept me on track in so many ways and I’m so happy I can say I know you! Your words are so powerful to me. Thank You and I love you,” Rodriguez wrote.

The Imagen Foundation, which runs the annual award ceremony, did not immediately respond to The North Star’s request for comment on Rodriguez’s historic win.

In 2018, Rodriguez won the Special Trailblazer Award at the Hispanic Heritage Awards. She was nominated for the MTV Movie Award for Breakthrough Performance this year, but lost to actor Noah Centineo for his performance in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

“Pose” has made history as the show with the most transgender actors in a scripted series. The show was nominated for six Emmys this year, including Best Actor for Billy Porter and Best Drama.

None of the show’s transgender cast members have been nominated for an Emmy. According to The Advocate, actor Laverne Cox is the only transgender woman nominated for an Emmy for her role as Sophia in “Orange Is the New Black.” At the same time, Rodriguez and Indya Moore have received critical acclaim for their performances.

Rodriguez’s character has been referred to as “the heart of the series” — she establishes the House of Evangelista, a safe haven for LGBTQ youth who are rejected by their birth families or those looking for a home. Rodriguez spoke about Blanca and the show in a recent Parade interview, noting that she hopes to be a beacon for younger kids, not just those who are transgender.

“I want to be that girl who’s out there, who possibly is the beacon for a lot of young kids and not just trans,” she said.

“It’s easy for me to reach out to trans kids, because I am trans, but I want to reach out to kids outside of that bracket,too, so that we can all be in the same space. We can all be seen as human beings versus just the titles that we hold, because people who are not trans, they hold titles as well.”

Rodriguez was pleasantly surprised when she and the rest of the “Pose” cast received so much support. “I never thought in a million years I would receive so many people who were willing to be educated and learn about women of color who are trans, and who actually strive to live and exist like anyone else exists, but not, also, be tied to that title. Just to simply live as any other human being on Earth would rightfully live.”

In June, Rodriguez’s colleague Janet Mock became the first Black transgender woman to sign a landmark overall deal with a major studio. The “Pose” director, producer, and writer signed a three-year, multi-million dollar deal with Netflix that gives the streaming giant exclusive rights to Mock’s TV series and a first-look option on any future feature film projects.

Mock will continue to work on “Pose” and will also serve as an executive producer and director on Murphy’s Netflix series, “Hollywood.”

In a video announcing the “bonkers” deal, Mock noted the importance of partnering with Netflix. “You know, 84 percent of Americans say that they don’t know and/or work with a trans person,” she said. “And so, there’s potential now with Netflix’s worldwide audience to introduce millions, hundreds of millions of viewers to trans people and showing people who may not understand us that we can tell our own stories.”


About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.