Trans actress Michaela Jaé (MJ) Rodriguez was recently named one of TIME magazine’s Women of the Year.
“Time and time again, I am in awe of all the women that have inspired me,” Rodriguez posted on her Instagram page. “Now I get to inspire and pass the torch. I appreciate all of you for loving me the way you do. As I always say I am only human, but the human experience is a beautiful one. Thank you [TIME magazine] once again for the work we’ve done together [and] the powerful woman that you constantly put in front of me.”
There have been many firsts for Rodriguez over the last year. Last summer, she became the first transgender performer to earn an Emmy nomination in a lead acting category. This past November, she became the first-ever trans model to grace the cover of Latina magazine. And earlier this year, Rodriguez became the first trans woman to win a Golden Globe.
“This is for the LGBTQAI, Black, Latina, Asian [communities], the many multi beautiful colors of the rainbow,” she said during her online acceptance speech. “This is not just for me, this is for y’all. This is the door that opens for y’all.”
As a proud, AfroLatine trans woman, Rodriguez has been dedicated to helping make changes in Hollywood, so that trans people like herself are given a seat at the table. “When I was younger, I didn’t have representation for anyone of color in the LGBTQI community,” she told TIME. “Now, I want to be the example. I want to show them that it’s possible.”
Rodriguez added, “People have this idea of how trans women of color, 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.”