“There’s a cycle that has to be repeated when it comes to encouraging a generation of LGBTQ+ individuals,” declares Mj Rodriguez, the star of FX’s “Pose.” The Emmy-winning period drama about New York ballroom culture has just recently aired its highly-anticipated final episode. For Rodriguez, who plays the tough but loving house mother Blanca Evangelista, the end of the groundbreaking series has come with a slew of emotions. In our exclusive video interview (watch above), Rodriguez reflects on her growth as a leading lady and how the impact of Blanca and the series continue to be felt.
The final season of “Pose” sees Blanca finding love with a handsome doctor (Jeremy Pope) and pursuing her dream of becoming a nurse. In the show’s final moments Blanca, having been given “legendary” status by her one-time house mother and rival Elektra (Dominique Jackson) — walks triumphantly into the darkened city streets. Rodriguez describes her emotions as she took that final walk. “I just saw endless possibilities not only for Blanca, but for me,” she explains. “to see Blanca come out so beautifully, to see her get what she deserves… and see that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, that there’s a future for her.”
Rodriguez is clear about her character being very different from her, but the actress also sees Blanca as a role model. Even after completing “Pose,” Rodriguez found herself looking to the character for inspiration. “She’s shown me how much of a leader she is and how much I want to achieve like that,” she says. “I’m going to always have her on my shoulder giving me words of advice and giving me words of upliftment.”
The relationship between Blanca and Pray Tell (Emmy winner Billy Porter) has always been one of the series’s most pivotal. The relationship gets a final celebration in a glorious ballroom performance of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” complete with wind and rain. Rodriguez says the performance was as emotionally challenging as it was physically, particularly due to the actress’s strong relationship with Porter. “We had come so far together in this show,” she exclaims. “It was great to really solidify that moment and people seeing the two leads of the show and showing differentiations between a strong male lead and a strong female lead. And how we both can carry it together.”
Even though she sees progress within the industry. Rodriguez is hopeful that there eventually be a time when the issue of representation won’t be the center of conversation when it comes to trans talent. “We definitely cracked the glass ceiling, but the pieces haven’t shattered and fallen,” she argues. “So that means at some point ins going to break and fall down, and there won’t be any questions as to why or how or when representation needs to be fought for.”
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