'Pose' 's Mj Rodriguez Makes Emmys History as First Trans Woman Nominated in Lead Acting Category

The actress played Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista for three seasons on Pose

Mj Rodriguez made Emmys history on Tuesday.

Rodriguez, 30, was nominated in the outstanding lead actress in a drama series category for her performance as Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista on Pose. She was recognized alongside Jurnee Smollett (Lovecraft Country), Uzo Aduba (In Treatment), Emma Corrin (The Crown), Olivia Colman (The Crown) and Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid's Tale).

The nod makes Rodriguez the first openly transgender performer to be nominated in a lead acting category at the Emmys.

Orange Is the New Black star Laverne Cox in 2014 became the first transgender person to be nominated for an acting award. (She would later be nominated three more times in the outstanding guest actress in a drama series category.) Last year, Razor Tongue's Rain Valdez was nominated for outstanding actress in a short form comedy or drama series.

Mj Rodriguez
Mj Rodriguez. Jamie McCarthy/Getty

Also on Tuesday, Rodriguez's cisgender costar Billy Porter was nominated for outstanding lead actor in a drama series for his role as Pray Tell. Porter, 51, has been nominated twice before and won in 2019, making him the first openly gay Black man to win the category.

And last but not least, Pose was nominated for outstanding drama series following its third and final season, which concluded on June 6.

In a statement, GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis called Rodriguez's nomination "a breakthrough for transgender women in Hollywood, and a long-overdue recognition for her groundbreaking performance over the past three seasons of POSE."

"Additionally, the show's nomination for Outstanding Drama Series, as well as Billy Porter's third nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, mark a historic show that undoubtedly raised the bar for trans representation on television and changed the way viewers around the world understand the trans community," Ellis continued. "As over 40 leading LGBTQ organizations pointed out in our open letter about POSE to Emmy Award voters, representation matters. Congratulations, Michaela Jaé, Billy Porter, and the entire POSE team — the world is standing with you and applauding your talents."

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The acclaimed drama series — created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Steven Canals — premiered on FX in 2018. Pose follows New York City's drag ballroom scene within the Black and Latino LGBTQIA community amid the rising HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s.

Dominique Jackson (Elektra), Indya Moore (Angel), Hailie Sahar (Lulu), Dyllón Burnside (Ricky), Angel Bismark Curiel (Lil Papi), Ryan Jamaal Swain (Damon) and Angelica Ross (Candy) were also in the main cast.

Rodriguez previously told PEOPLE that saying goodbye to Pose after three seasons was "bittersweet."

Mj Rodriguez
MJ Rodriguez in Pose. Eric Liebowitz/FX

"I couldn't have imagined something like this in a million years and it happened. It's very, very emotional," she said in May. "I'm kind of at a loss of words as to what has been happening after finding out Pose is ending. It's just been nothing but an avalanche of amazing, amazing opportunities."

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Rodriguez stressed that Pose would "leave a lasting legacy" on generation to come. "It will never disappear, it will go down in history," she said. "I don't think we'll have the opportunity to do it again. I don't think anyone will do it like us again. I'm saying that in all confidence."

The 73rd Emmy Awards will air live on Sep. 19 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS, and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

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