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'Pose' star Mj Rodriguez becomes 1st trans woman up for lead acting Emmy

Prior to Rodriguez, only two transgender performers received Emmy attention: "Orange Is the New Black" star Laverne Cox and Rain Valdez of "Razor Tongue."
MJ Rodriguez as Blanca in \"Pose\" on FX.
Mj Rodriguez as Blanca in "Pose" on FX.Pari Dukovic / FX
/ Source: Reuters

LOS ANGELES - The category is: making history. Mj Rodriguez has become the first transgender performer to pick up an Emmy nomination in a major acting category.

Rodriguez is nominated in the lead drama actress category for her fierce and formidable portrayal of house mother and nurse Blanca Rodriguez on FX's ballroom culture period drama "Pose." It is her first-ever attention from the Television Academy.

This nomination marks a significant step for LGBTQ representation — and specifically trans representation — at the Emmys. Prior to Rodriguez, only two openly trans performers received Emmy attention: Laverne Cox was the first, picking up her first nomination in the guest drama actress category for her work as former inmate Sophia on Netflix's "Orange is the New Black" in 2014 (and later receiving three more, all in the same category, in 2017, 2019 and 2020); meanwhile, Rain Valdez of "Razor Tongue" scored a short form comedy or drama actress nomination just last year.

In contrast, Jeffrey Tambor, who is a cisgender, heterosexual man, received three Emmy nominations for his performance as a transgender woman on Amazon Prime Video's "Transparent." (He won twice, in 2015 and 2016.)

"Pose" offered the Television Academy the most opportunities to celebrate LGBTQ performers out of any series, but only Rodriguez and Billy Porter received noms. Porter is back on the lead drama actor ballot for the third consecutive time for his role of Pray Tell, ballroom emcee and mentor; he won in 2019, for the show's first season. The show was also nominated in the drama series race; this marks its second nomination there.

If Rodriguez wins in September, she will make history again as the first-ever trans performer to take home an Emmy statue.

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