Mj Rodriguez Reacts to Historic Emmy Nom for Lead Actress: 'Love F*cking Wins!' (Exclusive)

Mj Rodriguez in Pose

She’s the first transgender person to be nominated in any of the major acting categories as the FX drama wraps its groundbreaking run.

Mj Rodriguez just made history at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards by earning her first nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Blanca on the FX drama Pose. She’s the first transgender performer to be nominated in any of the major acting categories. 

While speaking to ET from the South of France, where she is attending the Cannes Film Festival, Rodriguez was full of emotion and happy tears. "I feel like I can float all the way off of the ground," she said, adding that she's incredibly "thankful and grateful" to finally be recognized for her acclaimed performance after three seasons. 

"For me being recognized by my peers and by my colleagues, it just means the world for me," Rodriguez continued, explaining that as an Afro-Latina transgender girl from Northern New Jersey who didn't have a lot growing up, she has worked so hard to be accepted and seen. "It just goes to show what the human condition can do, what you can do -- as cheesy as that sounds -- love f*cking wins. And I feel all the hope in my spirit." 

She added, "I'm a human at the end of the day. All I wanted was the world to see me, I wanted them to see that I had something to offer."

Rodriguez’s nomination comes seven years after Laverne Cox became the first transgender person ever to be nominated for an acting Emmy (Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2014 for Orange Is the New Black). And it also comes one year after the Emmys nominated two transgender performers, Cox for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for the final season of OITNB and Rain Valdez for Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for Razor Tongue, for the first time ever in the same year. 

Pose, meanwhile, wrapped up its groundbreaking run at the Emmys with nine nominations for its third and final season. Not only did the series pick up another nod for Outstanding Drama Series, but Billy Porter earned his third consecutive nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, a category he won in 2019.

Additionally, co-creator Steven Canals was nominated for directing the series, while he and producers, Janet Mock and Our Lady J, as well as Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk were all nominated for writing the last episode together. 

Rodriguez was on the phone with Canals when the nominations were announced. "I was just so happy for him. He really deserved it," she said, revealing that it wasn't long before she heard from other members of the Pose family, including Mock and co-star Indya Moore.  

While the nominations represent a watershed moment at the awards, Joanna Fang is the only open 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. (Cox has since won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Special Class Special as executive producer for Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word.)

Speaking with ET last year, Valdez said a win matters because it makes more transgender storytelling possible. “For me, it’s leverage to keep going and keep creating because there's still so much to make,” she explained. “There's still so much to create. There's still so much representation that we need to see because there's just way too many negative depictions that have been created in the last hundred years that we have to combat. And so we can't stop at one nomination or two nominations.”

But as of right now, it's time to celebrate and appreciate this breakthrough moment. While on the phone with Canals, Rodriguez told him that "they were going to storm the Emmys again." And with this year's ceremony being in-person once again, she can't wait to celebrate with everyone and walk the red carpet. "To know that I'm going to be there at the 73rd annual [Emmys]... If I tell you I dreamed this, you wouldn't believe me," she said, revealing that she her uncle died at the beginning of the month. 

"I had so many beautiful opportunities and great things happening for me, but I just didn't know how to place it because I lost one of the most key people in my life," she continued. "And to have this happen right now, goes to show what he's done for me and how his hand was placed over each and everyone one of us. So, I do think it was written in the stars and I'm not saying that just to be in it. I really mean that."

The 2021 Primetime Emmy Awards air live on Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on CBS and Paramount+. In the meantime, stay tuned to ETonline.com for complete Emmys coverage.