Entertainment

MJ Rodriguez Is The Newest Hollywood Sensation And Her Star Is Just Starting To Rise

She’s beauty and she’s grace, and she’s one of the new faces in Hollywood representing trans women of color everywhere. While we all know MJ Rodriguez now as “Blanca Evangelista” from FX’s “Pose,” Rodriguez has been acting and performing for most of her life. It’s what got her here, to us.

If you’ve seen “Pose,” you should know that the accent is all real. Hecastmateses poke fun at how Rodriguez says the word “mother” (like any other Latina “mutha”). Pretty soon, you’ll be calling her Motha MJ támbien. Here’s what you should know about the freshest face in Hollywood.

MJ Rodriguez is half Puerto Rican and half African-American.

CREDIT: @PoseOnFX / Twitter

Her father is Puerto Rican and her mother is African-American. Both her parents have been pretty supportive of her transition and identity.

The Capricorn diva was born in Newark, New Jersey.

CREDIT: @mjrodriguez7 / Instagram

She was born on January 7, 1991, making the star 28 years old. Her “Pose” co-star and fellow Boricua, Indya Moore, threw her a surprise birthday bash.

Rodriguez grew up going to Catholic school.

CREDIT: @mjrodriguez7 / Instagram

Like most other Boricuas, we’re all recovering from that experience. Rodriguez went to the Queen of Angels Catholic School.

She started praying to become female when she was just 7 years old.

CREDIT: @mjrodriguez7 / Instagram

“Then I got into a stage of trying to be content with the person that I was betraying,” she tells Playbill. She lived in denial for many years before she started praying once again.

Rodriguez came out as gay/bisexual to her parents when she was 14 years old.

CREDIT: @REVRYTV / Twitter

“My mom is my biggest cheerleader,” she told Playbill. Even when Rodriguez was a child, she and her father were watching the 2005 film adaptation of “Rent” and she told her father, “I want to play this role.” His response? “In due time.”

That same year, she became involved with the ballroom scene.

CREDIT: @mrrpmurphy21 / Twitter

For those who are unfamiliar, the ‘ballroom scene’ isn’t about Tango. Madonna capitalized on the entirely queer-centered competitions with “Vogue.” Vogue is a style of ballroom dance.

“My house father saw something in me, she saw potential and taught me how to vogue,” she told ET.The experience on set [of “Pose”] was so reminiscent of that.”

At the same time she started praying to become a woman, she also decided to become an actor.

CREDIT: @mjrodriguez7 / Instagram

Her mother eventually enrolled her in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center when she was 11 years old. She became an eight-year veteran of the program and loved the stage.

Then, she landed the role of Angel in an off-Broadway production of “Rent.”

CREDIT: “MJ Rodriguez as ‘Angel’;” Digital Image. Playbill. 29 January 2019.

For her performance, she won the 2011 Clive Barnes Award, and she earned it. Rodriguez was Angel in her performance and it showed.

She was discovered by a Broadway star.

CREDIT: @REVRYTV / Twitter
Fredi Walker-Browne, the actress who played Joanne Jefferson in the Broadway version of “Rent,” was at one of Rodriguez’s theater performances and fell for her. She asked her to read for the role of Angel and got her the audition.

It was during her performance of Angel that she came back into touch with her childhood dream to become the woman she was meant to be.

CREDIT: @godlycia / Instagram

“Every single time I came out of the stage [door], I felt like there was some part of me that was missing,” she tells Playbill. The more empty she felt, the more room there was for her to take a closer look at what transitioning would be like.

So she took a hiatus to begin the transitioning process.

CREDIT: @mjrodriguez7 / Instagram

After “Rent” closed curtains in September 2012, she started hormone replacement therapy. “I’ve always felt I was the same person,” she tells Playbill. “There was never really any change; there was just evolving that had to take place. … I couldn’t put that in the public eye yet, because I wasn’t ready for the public eye to see it, so I had to take time to myself to figure a lot of things out. And, as you go through a transition, it’s not like, ‘Here are my boobs, and here is my butt!’”

When she told her agents she was no longer auditioning for male roles, she was terrified she’d be fired.

CREDIT: @mjrodriguez7 / Instagram

“I was really scared,” she admitted to Playbill.  “I didn’t know what they were going to think. To be quite honest, I was afraid that they would drop me, and I wouldn’t have had anyone to represent me, and I would be struggling again, but fortunately, after I sent the email, they said, ‘What? Are you kidding me? We love you.’ And they said, ‘It doesn’t matter. We still love you, and we don’t care.’ And things have been good moving forward.”

Soon after, she uploaded a video for a cover of a Hamilton song as her audition video.

CREDIT: MJ Rodriguez / Facebook

She uploaded the video to Facebook and got over 2,600 views. Within a week, her agents called to let her know she was being called in for an audition of “Hamilton.” She got the role as Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds.

She was the first black transgender actress to appear in the Marvel Universe.

CREDIT: @MjRodriguez7 / Twitter

While her character didn’t speak, she exists through Rodriguez. You can catch her on the latest season of Netflix’s “Luke Cage.”

She’s even performed with Janelle Monáe on Stephen Colbert’s show in solidarity with everyone.

CREDIT: @elenaalvarez / Twitter

While Indya Moore was dancing for Katy Perry on “Saturday Night Live,” that same summer of 2018, Rodriguez was performing with queen Janelle on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” This was an act of trans activism right here.

Today, she’s becoming a trans icon, and even announced the GLAAD media awards nominations this year.

CREDIT: @mjrodriguez7 / Instagram

Only the theatre world knew of Rodriguez, really, until “Pose.” In less than a year, she’s announcing the nominations for the GLAAD Media Awards over a live stream. Brava! Her presence alone is an inspiration.

She’s even inspiring Lebron James’ daughter!

CREDIT: @kingjames / Instagram

King Lebron James had exactly this to say: “Nothing in this world is more POWERFUL than Colored Women!! Thank you all for continuing to not settle and setting great examples in life for so many looking up to you for inspiration/guidance and love!! My daughter is watching! #WomenPower????????❤️????”

Rodriguez hopes President Trump watches “Pose.”

CREDIT: @Variety / Twitter

When asked by Variety, she said, “I hope he does. Maybe it might change his mind set on certain things. I can’t really say that much about him because I’m not that much of a fan, but he is human. He should probably get a glimpse in on love a little bit more.”

It took “Pose” six months to find exactly the right role for Blanca, and it was Rodriguez.

CREDIT: @PoseBR / Twitter

This show has the largest cast of transgender actors as series regulars in a scripted series. It’s breaking all the barriers, and we got a Boricua to play the starring role.

Hint: Rodriguez wants us all to watch Pose.

Watch “Pose” on iTunes before Season 2 comes out later this year.

CREDIT: @awards_watch / Twitter

Get all the Boricua realness you need from these power stars like Rodriguez and Moore. Both are changing everything, and we get to watch them do it with flair.


READ: FX’s ‘Pose’ Is Giving Trans People Of Color The Representation They Have Never Seen Before

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Disney Just Announced That We Won’t Have To Wait For The Pandemic To End In Order To Watch Mulan— Thank The Ancestors!

Entertainment

Disney Just Announced That We Won’t Have To Wait For The Pandemic To End In Order To Watch Mulan— Thank The Ancestors!

Rich Fury / Getty

After months of delays and waiting, Disney has announced that Mulan fans will no longer have to wait for a major theatrical release to see the live-action version of the animated classic. On Tuesday the Walt Disney Company revealed that the film will no longer seek a major theatrical release and that the blockbuster’s debut will take place on the subscription streaming service, Disney+.

To see the movie, customers will need to pay an additional $29.99 on top of the cost of the monthly subscription for Disney+

“In order to meet the needs of consumers during this unpredictable period, we thought it was important to find alternative ways to bring this exceptional family-friendly film to them in a timely manner,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek explained in a statement according to Variety. “We see this as an opportunity to bring this incredible film to a broad audience currently unable to go to movie theaters.”

The company has said that it plans to release Mulan in theaters in areas where Disney+ is not available to audiences.

According to Variety, “The decision to put Mulan on premium video-on-demand further emphasizes the studio’s increased reliance on Disney Plus at a time when most of their business — from theme parks and cruises to movie theaters and retail stores — have been crippled by the pandemic. Research, Chapek says, suggests that bringing a high-profile release like Mulan to homes “will act as a fairly large stimulus to sign up for Disney Plus.”

Mulan had been originally scheduled for a theatrical debut on March 27 and was meant to be Disney’s biggest theatrical release for the year.

Disney shelled out a $200 million budget and in early March the studio set up a lavish red carpet premiere at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. Days later, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Disney to postpone the movie’s release. The movie’s debut was then pushed back several times before Disney announced last week that they would indefinitely remove it from the release calendar. Fortunately, they’ve changed their mind and Mulan will debut on the streamer’s new platform on September 4, 2020.

Disney’s latest version of Mulan stars actress Yifei Liu as the titular character based on the legend of a female Chinese warrior who disguises herself and takes her father’s place as a soldier.

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Kevin Hart Backs Ellen DeGeneres Despite The Fact That Fans Canceled His Opinion A Long Time Ago

Entertainment

Kevin Hart Backs Ellen DeGeneres Despite The Fact That Fans Canceled His Opinion A Long Time Ago

Christopher Polk / Getty

In 2019, comedian and actor Kevin Hart received a torrential downpour of heat from fans after a series of homophobic tweets and jokes he’d made in the past had been recovered and publicized. As a result, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ousted him from his position as host of the Oscars that year and fans demanded that he issue a mea culpa. After a day, Hart tweeted an apology to the LGBTQ community but later announced that he was reconsidering stepping down as host after comedian Ellen DeGeneres expressed support for Hart to do so. At the time, DeGeneres defended Hart and called the Academy to rally for Hart to be able to host again.

Around that time, DeGeneres also hosted Hart on her show and urged him to ignore the backlash he’d received. At the time, DeGeneres dismissed his critics as “haters.”

Now it seems that Hart feels that it’s his turn to defend DeGeneres.

In the wake of allegations and criticism about the show’s toxic workplace culture as well as DeGeneres’s role in facilitating it, Hart took to Instagram on Tuesday to say that he will love the comedian “for life.”

“It’s crazy to see my friend go thru what she’s going thru publicly,” the actor wrote in a post featuring the two stars smiling together on her show. “I have known Ellen for years and I can honestly say that she’s one of the dopest people on the f—— planet. She has treated my family and team with love and respect from day 1.”

“The internet has become a crazy world of negativity… we are falling in love with people’s downfall. It’s honestly sad..” Hart continued. “When did we get here? I stand by the ones I know and that I love. Looking forward to future where we are back to loving one another… this hate s*** has to stop. Hopefully, it goes out of style soon…”

Hart finished his post writing that he does not mean “to disregard the feelings of others and their experiences.”

Hart continued writing that the point of his message is “simply to show what my experiences have been with my friend. Love you for life Ellen.”

Last week, DeGeneres addressed allegations about her show and apologized. “My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that,” she explained. “Alongside Warner Bros, we immediately began an internal investigation and we are taking steps, together, to correct the issues. As we’ve grown exponentially, I’ve not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I’d want them done. Clearly some didn’t. That will now change and I’m committed to ensuring this does not happen again.”

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