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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Whitney Houston’s Estate Released Images Of Her Hologram And Basically It’s As Scary As Seeing La Llorona

Entertainment

Whitney Houston’s Estate Released Images Of Her Hologram And Basically It’s As Scary As Seeing La Llorona

@1043MYfm / Twitter

Last year when the world learned that the estate of the later singer Whitney Houston planned to send her hologram on your, there was a mass of objections and outcries. Now that a sneak peek of the tour has been released, fans have dug in their heels.

“An Evening With Whitney : The Whitney Houston Hologram Tour” will begin on February 25 in the UK.

While Houston’s death occurred eight years ago, her estate has decided to bring her back to life for fans by giving her a new tour experience. According to The New York Post, “‘An Evening With Whitney’ was designed with Whitney’s image in mind, Pat Houston, the singer’s former manager and head of the Whitney Houston estate, said. Whitney planned on giving a more intimate, unplugged-esque tour before she died. And while that never took place when she was alive, the production team behind the hologram has ensured her vision will happen posthumously.”

“We had a discussion about her doing ‘Whitney Unplugged’ or some type of ‘Evening with Whitney,’ and that was really her idea,” Pat Houston said according to the Post. “It’s a dream that was realized by her. So that’s the production. This isn’t something that we’re just putting together. This is something that she wanted to do, and I get very emotional watching this because it is so close to what she wanted. The only thing missing was her, physically.”

Whitney fans have taken to Twitter to voice their horror over the hologram which, in all honesty, is alarming to see at first.

Literally so many fans have been left speechless.

And so many of u shave too many questions.

Dwayne Wayde Talks About Supporting Trans Daughter

Fierce

Dwayne Wayde Talks About Supporting Trans Daughter

gabunion/ Instagram

Former NBA baller Dwayne Wayde just made a major score in our book.

The father of four and husband to actress Gabrielle Union has gained quite a bit of clout as a Five Star dad thanks to his parenting know-how. In particular, the basketball phenom has in recent years gained attention for his support of his 12-year-old daughter Zaya on social media, particularly when she began to display hints of being part of the LGBTQ community.

Recently, Wayde opened up about his process of understanding his daughter’s gender identity.

Speaking with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America,” Wayde confirmed that she is trans. “This is her life every day. This is no game to us,” Wayde told Roberts on Tuesday. “We’re all about protecting her heart, we’re about protecting her joy and to do that, we have to support her.”

According to Wayde, Zaya– who has been aware of her gender identity since she was 3– gave her father permission to share her story on the show.

“‘I don’t think I’m gay,'” Wayde recalled his daughter saying in a conversation when she was younger. “‘This is how I identify myself. This is my gender identity. I identify as a young lady. I think I’m a straight trans (girl) because I like boys.'”

According to Wayde, he knew early on that to properly support his daughter he’d have to evaluate himself.

Admitting that he himself had never known or been aware of someone who had come out as a member of the LGBTQ community, Wayde decided to sit down with Union and research as much as they could. They even reached out to members of the LGBTQ community to better understand how to support Zaya. On her own, Union reached out to members of the FX show “Pose” for help. 

“I’ve been a person in a locker room that has been a part of the conversation that has said the wrong phrases and the wrong words myself,” Wayde admitted during his interview. “And as I got older and as I watched my daughter grow, I had to go and look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘Who are you? What are you going to do if your child comes home and says, “Dad, I’m not a boy … I’m a trans girl.” What are you going to do?’ That was my moment of real.”

Speaking about Zaya, Wayde said that he feels it is his responsibility to help support others in the LGBTQ community.

“We know there’s other families out there dealing with their kid finding themselves and learning who they are,” Wayde explained. “I’m not going to sit here and act like we have all the answers. I’m not going to sit here and act like before our child came home and sat us down, that we weren’t ignorant parents when it comes to the world. When I say we’re learning from our 12-year-old, we’re literally learning from our child.” 

Watch the full interview here.