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11 Reasons I'm Obsessed With Michaela Jaé (Mj) Rodriguez, And Why You Should Be Too

Sorry to everyone else, but Michaela Jaé invented being an icon.

Dear readers, I have gathered you here today to sing the praises of Emmy-nominated actress Mj (aka Michaela Jaé) Rodriguez. Let us begin, in our attempt to quantify the beauty and grace that Mj so clearly embodies.


1. Her character on Pose, Blanca, is one of the best on TV.

Still from "Pose" featuring Mj at the center in a light blue mini dress and long shawl, there are people behind her in the ballroom watching her
JoJo Whilden / ©FX / Courtesy: Everett Collection

No, I will not be taking questions at this time. If you haven't had the honor of watching Pose — which just concluded its three-season run on FX earlier this year — pick up the TV remote and do so now. The series, which explores New York City's queer- and trans-led 1980s ballroom culture, has some of the most honest, beautiful, and heartfelt representation I've ever seen. And when it comes to Blanca, there's no other character in existence who comes close to being as caring, selfless, determined, and poised.

2. Of course, this is due to Mj's incredible talent as an actress (and the writing, too).

Mj poses for the red carpet in a deep cut yellow long-sleeve dress with metallic floral accents, she sports a short wavy bob
Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images for MTV

There's a reason Mj is Emmy nominated, being the first trans woman in a major acting category to accomplish that. (I will not comment on her egregious snub here because it simply makes me too angry for words — the Academy will be getting a strongly worded letter from me!) While she attended performing arts schools as a child, Mj first got her start in an off-Broadway production of Rent, where she played Angel Dumott Schunard. After transitioning, she had a number of small television appearances — including on Nurse Jackie, The Carrie Diaries, and Luke Cage (meaning she became the first trans actress and character in a Marvel project). In 2017, she also earned a Best Actress nomination at the Tribeca Film Festival for her role as Ebony in the independent film Saturday Church. 

3. Because she's a multi-talented icon, Michaela Jaé also sings, and she released a debut single in June.

View this video on YouTube

Access Records / Via

Of course, Pose fans will recognize her vocal chops from the series — notably when she performed a duet rendition of "Home" from the 1975 musical The Wiz with Billy Porter's Pray Tell in Season 1. But Mj made her official debut as Michaela Jaé, the artist, on June 4, with the release of "Something to Say" under the Access Records label. The track is, in my opinion, an infectious blend of pop and disco-funk that just makes you want to get up and dance! And the colorful visuals in the music video — which, believe it or not, were put together within mere hours — are just *chef's kiss.* Speaking to People, Michaela Jaé said the inspiration behind the song was to "represent everyone." She added, "I want to make you smile all the time, so if I did that, I'm happy."

4. And she doesn't JUST want to be defined by her role on Pose.

5. The 30-year-old is also a glamorous trendsetter.

Frazer Harrison / Getty Images, Taylor Hill / WireImage / Getty Images

Mj has looks for days! Just take a look at her 2021 Met Gala look or any of her iconic fashion moments from Pose. From matching sets to designer gowns and bodycon dresses, she literally never misses.

6. Mj makes it a point to always advocate for her community and accurate representation, paving the way for other trans artists of color.

7. Particularly, she has spoken out on how colorism disproportionately marginalizes darker-skinned actors of color.

8. But she's also quick to disallow labels to define her and refuses to be a token.

Mj, Dominique Jackson, and Indya Moore wave to the crowd and smile as they sit in a rainbow-decked BMW at Pride
Europanewswire / Getty Images

“I just pray that, at a certain point, people get to see the human being,” Michaela Jaé shared with Refinery29. “That people get to see the person who is all types of intersectionalities — Black, Latina, trans, a woman, all things encompassed in one — and not use it as a logline or a subtext title where it's like, ‘This is what she is and look at what she's done because she is trans.’” 

The actress cited her upcoming role on Loot — an Apple TV+ comedy series costarring Maya Rudolph — where her gender identity is not a focal point as proof of progress: “I do believe Hollywood is seeing me. If I weren't able to book Loot, I probably would have different words. But now that I'm doing a show where my transness is not highlighted, [I’m optimistic].” 

9. She's been dreaming of being in the limelight as a starlet since she was 5 years old — and, if I do say so myself, she's gone above and beyond in accomplishing that goal.

Mj poses for the camera in a short baby pink dress, which has myriad buckles and corset-like sleeves
Jamie Mccarthy / Getty Images

“Being herstory is so profound. Beautifully profound,” she told Refinery29 about being at the 2021 Emmys alongside acting legends. “Finally, finally, I get to be in the same spaces that I've been dreaming of when I was 5 years old.” 

She added, "I wanted to be the girl that was just in a movie and that was doing her hard work and just maybe, who knows, get awarded for it. Maybe possibly get a nomination. Now it's happening. With my dreams coming true, so many more babies behind me — their dreams are going to come true even more than mine." 

(No, it's fine, I'm just over here sobbing.)

10. She's beginning to work on her debut album and hopes to collaborate with fellow Black women artists who are ascending in the music ranks.

11. And finally, she wants to star in a rom-com in the vein of Jennifer Lopez's 2000s movies.

Mj at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, she wears an Etro sparkly lace dress with an open back and a connecting shawl headpiece
Stephane Cardinale - Corbis / Corbis via Getty Images

As a self-proclaimed romantic-comedy film connoisseur, I believe it is my personal mission to expedite this process. She said of her rom-com movie goals, "I would just love to be a silly, goofy girl who falls head over heels for this guy or vice versa. I see myself showing people another side of the [romantic] experience of a woman like myself and many other women who go through it. It's not just the trans experience."