Emmy-nominated actress, Golden Globe winner, Pose star and overall queen Michaela Jaé Rodriguez (some of the girls may know her as Mj) is set to be honored with the Stephen F. Kolzak Award at the 33rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hilton on April 2. The New York ceremony will take place on May 6.
The Stephen F. Kolzak Award is presented to a LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting LGBTQ acceptance. The award is named after a legendary casting director, who devoted his life to raising awareness in the entertainment industry about the discrimination faced by LGBTQ people as well as people living with HIV. Previous Stephen F. Kolzak honorees include Laverne Cox, Jim Parsons, Wanda Sykes, Troye Sivan, Ruby Rose, Chaz Bono, Stephen Warren, Melissa Etheridge, and Sir Ian McKellen.
“Michaela Jaé Rodriguez is an undeniable talent who is changing the way audiences understand trans people while breaking down barriers for the trans community and LGBTQ people of color within the entertainment industry,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Her performance as Blanca on Pose was one of the most important and impactful roles in the history of LGBTQ representation on television, and she continues to spearhead the future of trans visibility and inclusion in entertainment through her talent on screen, in music, and as a passionate activist.”
Rodriguez slayed the Hollywood scene in the aforementioned groundbreaking FX series Pose as house mother Blanca Evangelista. Her portrayal as the young house mother living with HIV earned her a Golden Globe win and an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role, making her the first trans woman to earn a win in the entire history of the Golden Globes and the first trans woman to earn an Emmy nomination in a lead or supporting acting category.
As a trailblazer for the trans community, her star continued to rise and shine brighter with her career which included a starring role in Little Shop of Horrors as Audrey at Pasadena Playhouse, marking the first time a trans woman appeared as the role in a major production. She became the first Latinx trans woman to partner with Olay Body for a skincare campaign and she received the 2018 Trailblazer Hispanic Heritage Award. She was also the first openly transgender woman to win Best Actress – Television at the NAACP Imagen Award
In 2021, The Advocate named Rodriguez its Person of the Year and she appeared in Netflix’s Oscar-nominated movie musical tick…tick…BOOM! directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Up next for Rodriguez is the Apple TV+ series Loot which she will star alongside Maya Rudolph.
In addition to her work as an actress and activist, Rodriguez is also breaking ground as a singer. Rodriguez hopes to expand on trans representation in the music industry as a versatile genre-bending artist. “Something to Say,” the lead single off her upcoming EP, is a message of unity and love. Upon releasing the music video, Rodriguez shared that she hopes the track reminds everyone that “we are one!”