entertainment

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

mjrodriguez7 / Instagram

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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Here’s Why AOC Called Her Address At Bronx’s Pride “The Most BX” Speech She Ever Gave

Things That Matter

Here’s Why AOC Called Her Address At Bronx’s Pride “The Most BX” Speech She Ever Gave

Twitter / @_SanchezSabrina

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) made an appearance at Bronx Pride 2019 on Sunday, where she gave an air horn-accompanied address that she called “The most BX pride speech I ever gave.”

As the Puerto Rican congressional freshman, who hails from the borough, shouted LGBTQ  policy points she has advocated for in her five months in elected office, spectators blasted “bwa-bwa-bwa-bwaaah” air horns, a familiar sound to the community that birthed hip-hop.

“They really cued up the horns for our policy points. There’s no place like home,” she later tweeted alongside a couple laughing-crying emojis.

During her short talk, AOC touched on what Pride, a time to commeorate the trans women of color-led Stone Wall riots that birthed the gay rights movement and led to the LGBTQ battles and wins of today, means.

“Pride is about honoring the community workers, the people who work in the clinics, the community organizers, the people who work with LGBTQ youth, the people who are fighting to make sure that it’s not just about marriage equality, but quality of life for all people in the community,” she said.

The congresswoman also highlighted some of the biggest issues impacting queer communities at the moment.

“What does the LGBTQ fight mean in a post-marriage-equality world? Here’s what it means: It’s making PrEP free for all people,” she said, as an air horn blasted. 

In Congress, Ocasio-Cortez has led the fight for affordable PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), which could decrease the spreading of HIV during sexual intercourse, criticizing the CEO of Gilead, the pharmaceutical company behind the PrEP drug Truvada, in May during a congressional hearing over the high cost of the drug.

“It means tackling the homelessness crisis among our LGBTQ youth,” she continued, with the sound of another “bwa-bwa-bwa-bwaaah” following. 

“It means decarcerating our society so that no trans woman and no person ever dies again in custody,” she said, alluding to the death of transgender Afro-Latina Layleen Polanco earlier this month in New York’s Rikers Island, as another round of air horns exploded. 

“It means no one is denied a job because of their gender identity, no matter what it is,” she said to a final blast.

Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t the only elected official at Bronx Pride. State Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Senator Chuck Schumer were also in attendance, supporting and taking photos with those who participated in the parade.

Since taking office, the young congresswoman has made issues confronting the LGBTQ community a top priortity.

Read: Historians And AOC Agree That Detention Centers Look Like Concentration Camps But Conservatives Don’t Want To Hear It

Los Espookys Episode 2: “El Espanto de la Herencia”

Entertainment

Los Espookys Episode 2: “El Espanto de la Herencia”

HBO

On June 13 2019, HBO premiered “Los Espookys,” it’s Spanish-language horror comedy from the mind of Fred Armisen. Needless to say, we were immediate fans. Between the subtly hilarious script and its impeccable delivery, the series proved from episode one that it’s worth the watch. Don’t even get us started on how much we love the horror elements we’ve seen so far.

The second episode of “Los Espookys” is just as addictive and entertaining as the first. Titled “El Espanto de la Herencia,” the episode is so good, it demands a recap.

Here are some of the most spooky and most hysterical parts of “Los Espookys” episode two.

Last week, we met Renaldo, Úrsula, Tati and Andrés, four friends bonded by their love of horror.

HBO

The gang was encouraged by Renaldo’s uncle, Tio Tico, to pursue that passion and turn it into a career. Calling themselves Los Espookys, they were approached by a mysterious woman who wants to use their terrifying talents. With this in mind, it’s time to brainstorm how they’ll approach this next job.

However, before we can check in with Los Espookys, the series introduces us to the US Ambassador.

Horror DNA

Her name is US Ambassador Melanie Gibbons and she’s received an important letter. The letter — which is in Spanish, not coded as she first suspects — informs her that her friend Ignacio Ferracuti has died. However, he’s left his 18.9 billion peso fortune to whoever can survive a night in his haunted mansion.

To borrow Ambassador Gibbons words, “Okay, twist!” She’s been chosen as one of five strangers to compete for his fortune. It’s all very exciting for her.

Similarily, Los Espookys are excited for this upcoming challenge.

Horror DNA

We finally get to see to the official Los Espookys headquarters — which happens to be Renaldo’s garage. While Andrés pushes for avant-garde and challanging tricks, Renaldo wants to stick to the basics. Úrsula just wants confirmation that they’re going to be paid.

Meanwhile, back in LA, Tio Tico is in an unusual situation.

Horror DNA

Following last week’s encounter at a major celebrity party, Tico has been mistaken for an elusive artist. Due to this mix-up, he’s been roped into speaking at an art panel. The whole thing has snowballed and Tio Tico is just along for the ride.

Unfortunately, Andrés is finding it hard to balance his life as Prince of Chocolate and his spooky calling.

HBO

Being the heir to a chocolate fortune is hard. As his boyfriend reminds him, Andrés has duties he needs to commit to or else he will be removed as heir. However, the curious man is preoccupied with uncovering the mystery of his birth and his new side gig. What is a Chocolate Prince to do?

Finally, it’s the big night!

Horror DNA

Too bad Renaldo has been ditched by the other members of Los Espookys. Andrés, Úrsula y Tati have all shown up last minute, leaving Renaldo to set up. What’s worse, nobody hired the actors they need so Renaldo has to step in as the creepy butler. Let’s just say, the role is out of his range.

Still, the goal of the haunted house is to get rid of one contestant in particular. The Mysterious Woman announces to Los Espookys that Sr. Ferracuti’s son is a contestant and must not win. However, he seems impossible to shake with the frankly unimpressive scares.

Los Espookys are in a funk and they need some serious rallying.

HBO

Andrés is obsessed with the dead ends he keeps getting in his search for his origin. Úrsula is obsessed with getting paid. Tati is obsessed with Snap Chatting her shady internet boyfriend.

Renaldo is about to give up but some unexpectedly good advise from Tati inspires him. After a rallying call from Renaldo, Los Espookys are back. They’re going to pull off the scariest trick they can.

We don’t want to give away the ending, but the episode wraps up with the possibility of more jobs in their future.

HBO

Will Tati continue her internet relationship? Will Andrés learn the origins of his birth? What sort of adventure will Los Spookys get into next week? We’ll have to watch to find out.

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