Michaela Jaé (MJ) Rodriguez explained why representation matters and how she wants to use her platform to be “the example” of what is possible.
“When I was younger, I didn’t have representation for anyone of color in the LGBTQI community,” she explained to the magazine. “Now, I want to be the example. I want to show them that it’s possible.”
The 31-year-old is best known for performances in the likes of Rent, Tick, Tick… Boom! and Pose.
Discussing how the latter influenced her mindset, she stated: “People have this idea of how trans women of color, trans women, and women in general are supposed to navigate this world. I want to break that down.
“I want people to see what I am before I’m trans, before I’m Black, before I’m Latina. I want people to see I’m human.”
Rodriguez said that she is excited for what the future holds as “there are no barriers” for her anymore.
“Now I feel, as a person who identifies as trans and also as a woman, that there are no barriers for me,” she stated. “Instead, there are barriers to knock down for others.”
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In the clip, she opened up about her journey of womanhood and how her “perceptions” of it have changed over time.
“There were so many perceptions that I had to womanhood,” Rodriguez said. “Every girl does, whether she’s trans or not.”
She added: “I thought it was you know, being in this structure, being this hyper effeminate vision for people to see, in order for people to understand my womanhood, and as time went on I realised that’s not the case.
“It’s what you go through – life, it’s the experiences you go through whether they’re good or bad and I feel like that has contributed to my art and that has contributed to my work.”
Rodriguez told viewers that she has the same struggles as a lot of other women, despite her status as a celebrity.
“I still am a work in progress – which I always have to say, because a lot of people think that you know, people in my position who have the title of ‘celebrity’, like, we have everything given to us and that everything is laid out on the table, it’s not like that,” she concluded.
— TIME (@TIME) March 5, 2022