Mj Rodriguez has had a busy year. This past March, she wrapped up filming the third and final season of Pose, FX’s critically-acclaimed series about 1980s ballroom culture in New York City. The actor’s work on the drama earned her an Emmy nomination, making Rodriguez the first transgender woman to be recognized in the ceremony’s lead acting category. Back in July, she made her Cannes Film Festival debut in a stunning Etro gown, which solidified her reputation as a dynamic force on the red carpet. This month, Rodriguez partnered with H&M for a fashion-focused event that offered support to young LGBTQ+ students ahead of the school year.
At the “Fresh and Fabulous for Fall” event, the retailer treated approximately 20 young students to a shopping spree at its flagship store in NYC. Rodriguez, who’s also known as singer and performer Michaela Jaé, hosted the event alongside the Executive Director and founder of The Marsha P. Johnson Institute, Elle Moxley.
“It was great to show these kids what it's like to thrive as people who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. We tried to show them what it looks like to really strive for your dreams as a BIPOC and also as a trans person,” Rodriguez tells TZR. “At H&M, where it’s a space [the students] can actually shop until they drop, they were able to get everything they needed to feel even more comfortable in who they are before going back to school.”
Rodriguez shares that clothing — specifically the costuming on Pose — has helped her become more confident in herself, too, so collaborating with H&M on the shopping event was incredibly meaningful. Ahead, Rodriguez goes into more detail on her personal style and the go-to outfit she slips into when she wants to feel good. She also discusses her historic Emmy nomination and even shares a few tidbits about her upcoming awards show look.
How would you describe your personal style?
I was always a tomboy when I was younger. I was the girl who always wore shorts and got down and a little dirty, but still made sure to put a little bit of makeup on her face so she can be cute. This hasn’t changed, but now I consider my style to be more sexy, chic, and edgy — like Lara Croft.
Do you have a go-to outfit?
At the moment, there's this beige romper from H&M that I’m living for. I'm actually wearing it right now, and I'm really happy about it. But on a regular day, I would say I’m drawn to form-fitting clothes. I love when I look sexy, so one of my favorite looks is a crop top, a nice skirt, and some heels or a chic boot to go along with it. At the same time, I also love a relaxed outfit, like a good-looking pair of shorts styled with a crop top and some stylish sneakers.
What was your reaction to being nominated for an Emmy?
I was in the South of France for the Cannes Film Festival when I found out. The morning of, I thought to myself, “Mj, you need to go and record this. This is something you need to record and have for yourself as a memento. Whether you get the nomination or not, this is something that you can hold on to and look back and know how hard you worked to get here.”
When I heard my name [on the nominees list], I just started screaming and hugging my mother. I was so elated that the hard work I’d put into [my Pose] character was finally paying off. I’m really happy that the Television Academy is looking past my trans-ness. They’re just looking at the work I’m bringing to the table because, honey, I bring the work to the table.
Can you share details about your Emmys red carpet look?
I can't say who designed the dress because I like to keep a bit of mystery, but the designer — she — is sickening. And [my dress] is going be body-conscious and structured to my body. The look will be chiffon and colorful. And when I say colorful, I don't mean multicolored, but that the color of the dress itself will be vibrant. I can't wait because, in this dress, I'm gonna look like the princess-slash-goddess I've always wanted to be.
Do you and your character on Pose, Blanca, have a similar sense of style?
Our styles differ a lot. For instance, I love a sexy dress with a long slit that comes up to my thighs. I do still have those days where I want to wear jeans and regular wear, but I mostly like to be very sultry and sophisticated. Whereas I think Blanca is more pared-back and casual. She's still stylish, but she’s more laid-back in her style and the clothing she wears. And Michaela Jaé, honey, is just not [laid-back]. I want to be hot and make sure the body is showing. I want to give you the drama.
Did the costumes on Pose influence your personal style?
I definitely took some fashion influences from the styling. Not specifically what Blanca wore, but the confidence and the way each and every one of the characters wore their outfits. Before the show, I did already feel comfortable in my clothes, but [working on Pose] gave me even more of a boost. Now, I feel really excited about the clothes I wear and I’m conscious as to what's going to look good on my body.