Janet Mock and Our Lady J Make Emmy History With Outstanding Drama Nomination for 'Pose'

Janet Mock and Our Lady J with 'Pose' co-creator Steven Canals. Image courtesy of Getty Images.

The transgender producing team landed a breakthrough nomination while Laverne Cox was once again recognized for acting.

Janet Mock, Our Lady J and Silas Howard just made Emmy history. 

The producing team behind Pose, the FX series about LGBTQ community of color from the 1980s New York City ballroom scene, became the first openly transgender people ever nominated for Outstanding Drama Series. They are nominated alongside co-creators Steven Canals, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. 

When the nominees for the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards were announced on Tuesday, Howard, Mock, Our Lady J and the entire Pose team made a significant breakthrough for transgender representation on TV. In addition to the top prize, the series was also nominated for four technical categories as well as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Billy Porter, who became the first openly gay black man to be recognized in that category. 

“We are grateful to the Television Academy for seeing us. Working with this trailblazing cast and crew is award enough. It is why I stand here awed by this recognition. I hope the spotlight of this nomination burns bright on our industry's urgent need for more inclusive storytelling, where those who lived it are empowered to tell their own stories,” Mock said in a statement to ET. “Congratulations to our leading man Billy Porter on his nomination, and all our fellow nominees.”

“It is truly an historic day in Hollywood with Pose’s nomination for Best Drama! For decades, trans and gender-nonconforming talent have worked tirelessly alongside LGBTQ+ activists to ensure that this day would come -- a day when we are the ones to star, write, direct, and produce content based on our lived experiences,” Our Lady J said to ET. “Thank you to Ryan Murphy for making this moment happen, and thank you to the Television Academy for acknowledging the resilient spirit of our show and of our community. I am so extraordinarily proud to be a part of Pose.”

While Transparent, which both Our Lady J and Howard worked on during its first few seasons, broke ground on TV and earned several Emmys, most of the accolades went to the cisgender performers on the series and creator Jill Soloway, who later came out as nonbinary and gender non-conforming. Pose marks the first time a major primetime series features transgender people in front of and behind the camera being honored for telling their stories.

Pose marks a seismic shift in storytelling -- one that invites audiences to connect not to old tropes, but to the realities of lives that so often get crudely misrepresented or elided by mainstream media. What makes Pose extraordinary is its 360 degree authenticity,” Howard said to ET. “Not only in the writing, directing, and casting of the show, but throughout the show, ballroom icons such as Hector (RIP) , Jose Xtravagnaza, Jack Mizrahi, Twiggy Pucci Garcon, Jonovia Chase and Leiomy Maldonado (to name only a few) -- have lent their voices, talents, perspectives, and experiences to make the show a brilliant depiction of ballroom culture. Pose illuminates how much of mainstream culture has emerged from these marginalized histories.”

In addition to the series’ six nominations, Laverne Cox was once again nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Sophia Burset on Orange Is the New Black. This is her third nomination total for the role. She also remains the only openly transgender person to ever be nominated for a primetime acting Emmy. 

“I am beside myself honored that the academy has seen fit to nominate me once again for a Prime Time Emmy. I really didn’t expect this. I am shook and in shock!” Cox wrote on Twitter. “I actually expected that this year I would no longer be the only trans person nominated for an Acting Emmy. There are so [many] amazingly talented trans actors working on television right now.” She then went on to give a shout-out to other groundbreaking actresses, including Pose stars Mj Rodriguez and Indya Moore, who were overlooked by the Academy this year. “I love your work! You inspire me. ”

Beyond acting, Jen Richards earned a nomination in the Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for the YouTube show Her Story (co-starring Pose and upcoming American Horror Story star Angelica Ross) in 2016. That same year, Joanna Fang made history when she became the first transgender person to win a Primetime Emmy -- for Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera) for her work on the documentary Cartel Land

“To be on stage as my true self was deeply affirming. I didn’t win this award solely because I was trans, the voting was based on the merits of my team’s work.  I just so happened to have my talent and reputation survive the coming out process,” Fang told Generation Progress. “In addition to that, my mom took the Emmy’s as an opportunity to help me come out to my extended relatives. She sent a single text and a single picture, ‘Jonathan is no longer Jonathan, her name is now Joanna and she just won an Emmy.’ I’m the first transgender woman to win a Primetime Emmy. The moment was deeply emotional: it made up for not being able to go to prom as a woman, it made up for all the countless nights I locked myself in my room unable to attend black-tie events due to gender dysphoria.”

Ahead of this year’s nominations, Rodriguez told ET that any recognition by the Academy would mean a lot “because that means the industry is not only taking LGBTQ lives seriously, they’re taking trans women of color lives seriously. They’re also seeing that we’re not one-dimensional anymore.” 

The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards will be handed out live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, Sept. 22 on Fox. Check out ET Live and ETonline for ongoing coverage of the awards.