With the kind of year that trans actress Michaela Jaé Rodriguez has had, it’s really no surprise that she was named Person of the Year by The Advocate.
“I’m still grasping and wondering and even perplexed that I got this far being a Black Latina trans woman,” Rodriguez told the magazine. “That just has not happened for us. So, when it did, it really lit a fire underneath to just keep going and to also know that there are people watching me.”
So, what kind of year was it for Rodriguez? In 2021, she became the first transgender woman to receive an Emmy Award nomination in a lead acting category. She got the nod for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role in the third and final season of the FX drama series Pose. Although she didn’t go home with the trophy, Rodriguez says she felt like she was “finally in a place that [she] needed to be.”
“The most important thing that I’m excited for, honestly, is people seeing me in a new light when it comes to my craft,” she says. “Seeing that I’m versatile and capable of doing many different types of characters.”
Rodriguez hopes to continue her upward trajectory in her career. She still has a soon-to-be-released EP on the horizon as well as her role in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut tick, tick…BOOM!, which debuts on Netflix on November 19.
“I’m not going to stop,” Rodriguez says. “I’m going to make sure that the door is constantly kept open. I’m going to put a little stopper in that door, so that it can open up as much as it can.”
Along with Rodriguez’s Person of the Year honors, The Advocate recognized several other people in the LGBTQ+ community, including actress and director Natalie Morales, who released two movies this year – Plan B and Language Lessons, and Texas state Rep. Celia Israel.