Pose icon Michaela Jaé Rodriguez explains her journey of womanhood: ‘I am a woman in progress’
Michaela Jaé (MJ) Rodriguez opened up about her view of womanhood as she was named as one of Time magazine’s Women of the Year.
It’s the latest honour for the star, who made history as the first trans actor to win a Golden Globe in January, and as the first trans woman to earn an Emmy nomination in a lead acting category, both for her role as Blanca Evangelista on Pose.
Rodriguez was lauded alongside celebrities Amal Clooney, Kacey Musgraves, and Kerry Washington for Time’s International Women’s Day issue.
She said being part of the list has made her want to be “the example” for other trans people of colour.
“When I was younger, I didn’t have representation for anyone of colour in the LGBTQI community,” she told Time. “Now, I want to be the example. I want to show them that it’s possible.”
— TIME (@TIME) March 5, 2022
Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, who made her name in an off-Broadway production of Rent, and has gone on to star in Oscar-nominated Tick, Tick… Boom!, is now looking to release her first EP later this year as well as continuing in acting roles.
She told Time: “People have this idea of how trans women of colour, trans women, and women in general are supposed to navigate this world. I want to break that down.
“I want people to see what I am before I’m trans, before I’m Black, before I’m Latina. I want people to see I’m human.”
She added: “Now I feel, as a person who identifies as trans and also as a woman, that there are no barriers for me… Instead, there are barriers to knock down for others.”
In a video for the outlet, Rodriguez explained her own journey of womanhood.
“There were so many perceptions that I had to womanhood,” she said. “Every girl does whether she’s trans or not.
“I thought it was… being this hyper effeminate vision for people to see, to understand my womanhood, and as time went on I realised that’s not the case.
“It’s what you go through [in] life, it’s the experiences you go through whether they’re good or bad.” She added: “I still am a woman in progress – which I always have to say, because a lot of people think that [celebrities] have everything given to us… it’s not like that.”
Rodriguez credited her mother, her grandmother, her “strong Black family” and the trans women she grew up around as instilling this sense of what womanhood means in her.
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Joining Rodriguez on TIME’s list this year are poet Amanda Gorman, civil rights attorney Sherrilyn Ifill, Black maternal health advocate Jennie Joseph, actress Kerry Washington, activist targeting online harassment Tracy Chou, human rights attorney Amal Clooney, journalist Zahra Joya who stood up to the Taliban, singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves, NASDAQ CEO Adena Friedman, Olympic champion Allyson Felix, and survivors’ advocate Amanda Nguyen.
The magazine said it will be hosting a gala in Los Angeles for the 12 women on Tuesday, International Women’s Day.
It said: “Our 2022 Women of the Year list features 12 individuals who have reached across communities, generations, and borders to fight for a more inclusive and equitable world.
“We can’t wait to be in the room with these incredible women, and to hear them connect over their ideas.”