Michaela Antonia Jaé Rodriguez, better known as Mj Rodriguez, is an actress and singer who rose to prominence after being cast in a theater production of Rent as Angel Dumott Schunard. She also won the 2011 Clive Barnes Award for her performance.

A decade later, with acting credits in movies and TV shows like Netflix's Luke CageThe Big Take, and FX's Pose, she has quite an impactful portfolio.

But the road to fame and critical acclaims was not easy for Rodriguez. The actress, born male, had to constantly fight, with no one but herself, to accept the transition and move in the right direction.

Appreciates Her ‘before Transition’ Phase

In her candid August 2021 conversation with the New York Post, she opened up about her transition and how she looked at videos from the past.

The Newark-born star first recalled her early memories of growing up in her birth town, stating she had a fair share of ups and downs there because she was a woman of the "trans experience."

Afterward, Rodriguez, who went through a complete gender transitioning around the mid-2010s, admitted she loved looking at her old videos before her transition. 

She continued to say that her appearance, lifestyle, and works from the past did not make her feel uncomfortable nor did it stop her from moving ahead in her life.

That’s why I like that I haven’t taken them down. A lot of girls of the trans community, they take those down because they feel like it can inhibit them as a person. But me, I don’t think it inhibits me.

The 30-year-old also expressed that she was happy with where she was in life and how gracefully her music was taking her towards an enjoyable journey.

Her Transition

Rodriguez was seven when she started performing, the same age she began to wish she was female. By the age of 14, she came out to her parents as "bi/gay."

But it was in 2012 when she came to a decision to go through gender transition fully. She eventually commenced hormone replacement therapy in 2016, which she explained was the right choice while speaking with Playbill magazine.

After the transition, she no longer played male roles and looked for a casting call for female roles. And she did get opportunities to represent female characters in films and television shows.

Emmy Awards Nomination

In 2021, the famed actress became the first transgender woman to receive an Emmy Awards nomination in a major acting category.

She was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her performance as Blanca Evangelista in the third and final season of Pose.

"It feels extremely surreal but liberating. I’ve never felt more liberated in my life, because one, it’s never happened before," she told Deadline.

In the series, Evangelista is a trans woman who decides to follow her dreams after finding out she has HIV.

She was cast in the series in 2017 alongside four other transgender actresses in leading roles — a history in itself.