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Michaela Jaé Rodriguez’s banner year continues.
The Pose star, who made history as the first transgender performer to land a best drama actress Emmy nomination, has been named by The Advocate as its 2021 person of the year. The honor comes on the heels of Rodriguez releasing a single titled “Something to Say” and as she preps for the release of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Netflix film tick, tick…BOOM!, in which she plays Carolyn. She’s also got more to say on the music front as she finishes polishing an EP.
In the magazine’s cover story, Rodriguez, who previously went by a shortened version of her name, Mj, says she’s still processing all of the attention and recognition for her standout creative work. “I’m still grasping and wondering and even perplexed that I got this far being a Black Latina trans woman. That just has not happened for us,” she explains. “So when it did, it really lit a fire underneath to just keep going and to also know that there are people watching me.”
The Advocate editor-in-chief Tracy E. Gilchrist explained why so many eyes are on her, including at the magazine. “As a performer and in her life, Rodriguez exudes grace and optimism,” said Gilchrist. “She’s a rare talent who has created a path for others to follow. And she’s helped change trans visibility on TV and in film for the better forever.”
Rodriguez, who also booked a role opposite Maya Rudolph in an upcoming Apple TV+ series, tells The Advocate that she hopes to continue pushing herself as an actress and with her music while also living a life free of fear. “I try best not to live my life in fear,” says Rodriguez, who has also starred on stage in Little Shop of Horrors. “I feel like if you live your life in fear, it’s just going to hold you back and you’re not going to be able to do the things you want to do.”
The special issue honors LGBTQ+ changemakers and culture-shifters that have had a positive impact on the world, per the magazine. In conjunction with Rodriguez’s person of the year honor, The Advocate also revealed its list of people of the year.
Those who made the cut include Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg; breakout music superstar Lil Nas X; Reggie Greer, President Joe Biden’s senior advisor on LGBTQ+ issues; activist Edafe Okporo; Tori Cooper of the Human Rights Campaign’s Transgender Justice Initiative; Hacks‘ Poppy Liu; Port Authority star Leyna Bloom, who became the first out transgender woman of color to be featured in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue; Olympian Quinn; out NFL player Carl Nassib; actress and filmmaker Natalie Morales; Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, director of the division of HIV/AIDS prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Reservation Dogs star Devery Jacobs; Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, an out member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; Rep. Celia Israel, a Texas state representative who postponed her wedding to fight for voting rights; L.A.-based nonbinary artist and muralist Lauren YS; and A. Andrews, a nonbinary artist and activist.
The full list can be found here. The digital edition, released today, will be followed by a print edition on newsstands Nov. 23. The Advocate, led by editor-in-chief Tracy E. Gilchrist, is owned by Pride Media, the country’s largest LGBTQ+ media company. The company’s other titles are Out, Pride, Plus, Out Traveler, LGBT.com, LGBTQ&A and Pride Today.
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