“Pose” star Mj Rodriguez made Emmy history this summer, becoming the first openly transgender actress to score a nomination in a lead acting category. Her soulful performance as house mother Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista finally earned her a bid in Best Drama Actress, and just in time, too, getting in for the third and final season of the FX drama. Emmy experts are predominantly picking Rodriguez’s category-mate Emma Corrin to win for “The Crown,” but I don’t think it’s all wrapped up for the young Princess Diana portrayer just yet. Here are four reasons why Rodriguez can pull off an upset win at Sunday’s Emmys.
1. She has a narrative
The outpouring of excitement over Rodriguez’s Emmy nomination dominated the headlines on Emmy nominations day this summer, and the actress has been very visible on the campaign trail. For too long, trans actors have been relegated to degrading guest star roles on television, and some Emmy voters may see a vote for Rodriguez as an affirmative step in helping right some wrongs. Her costar, Billy Porter, made a powerful statement when he won his Emmy for Season 1, showing that a character like Pray Tell could be a viable lead of a show, and to see Rodriguez win could provide an even more rousing moment in that respect.
2. “Pose” overperformed
“Pose” finished strong with nine Emmy nominations this year, the most for any of its three seasons. In addition to Rodriguez and Porter scoring lead acting nominations and the show getting back into Best Drama Series, it also managed bids in Best Drama Directing and Best Drama Writing for the first time. At last weekend’s Creative Arts Emmys it took home three trophies, for costumes, makeup and hairstyling. While the academy’s actor branch does not vote in those craft categories, it does show passion for the FX drama’s final season, which may benefit Rodriguez and Porter.
3. Her show aired more recently than “The Crown”
While “The Crown” made a killing at the winter award shows, part of its dominance could be attributed to its recency, with the fourth season dropping in November last year. Meanwhile, “Pose” wrapped in June and if Emmy voters watched both shows as they were airing/streaming, Rodriguez’s performance is naturally going to be fresher in voters’ minds. There are examples in recent years of actors who won precursor awards but didn’t end up beating the fresher nominee, such as Michelle Williams (“Fosse/Verdon”) beating Patricia Arquette (“Escape at Dannemora”) in 2019. If Corrin’s performance doesn’t feel as exciting as it did when “The Crown” dropped Season 4 in November, then someone like Rodriguez or even Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) can pull off an upset.
4. She’s the heart and soul of her show
For as much as “Pose” fans enjoy Pray Tell’s larger-than-life personality, Elektra’s (Dominique Jackson) biting quips, or Lil Papi’s (Angel Bismark Curiel) heart of gold, it is Blanca who holds this chosen family together. Rodriguez plays Blanca as a tough but fair mother to her children, with natural instincts as a nurturer. While she has had a difficult life, she is an optimist and it is rewarding to see her finally get the recognition she deserves in the series finale. If Emmy voters love “Pose” as much as these nominations suggest, they may respond to the sheer likability of Rodriguez’s character and vault her into a winning position based on passion.
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