By Marc Malkin. For as long as MJ Rodriguez can remember she has wanted to be a performer. I just wanted to try to see if I could make myself the person that I always wanted to be, to be truly comfortable in the skin that I was in. Rodriguez recalls walking the carpet at the Season 1 premiere about this time last year. I felt every piece of it because my mindset always is that it could be gone in just a blink of an eye. Rodriguez grew up in Newark. While Rodriguez knew she was different, her work in the musical helped her discover who she truly was. Rodriguez was surprised when even her agent at the time stuck by her. We love you, and we already pretty much knew.
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El Espace is a column dedicated to news and culture relevant to Latinx communities. Expect politics, arts, analysis, personal essays and more. The role is a full-circle moment for Rodriguez, who found her own chosen family when she was 14 and joined a ballroom house that became a haven for her as a queer teenager. This conversation has been edited and condensed. I wanted to talk to you about how the ballroom community paved the way for your interest in acting and your personal journey. What do you think the ballroom community gave you? Ballroom culture never really influenced my acting career. I always had that push from my mother and my father, and also just me being someone who loved it from birth. But the ballroom community did contribute to my dancing and to me being more comfortable in my body, moving and not being afraid to be judged.
Rodriguez is known for her role as Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista in the television drama Pose , where she is among the largest cast of transgender actors to be starring as series regulars in a scripted show. She is also known for her performance as Angel in the Off-Broadway revival of Rent , for which she won the Clive Barnes Award. While attending college, Rodriguez was cast in a theater production of Rent as Angel Dumott Schunard. Rodriguez had wanted to play the role since first seeing the film adaptation.