Pose's MJ Rodriguez

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Singer, actress, activist, and now Emmy nominee Micheala Jae played Blanca on the groundbreaking FX series Pose. The show was nominated for a myriad of awards and MJ herself won the 2019 Imagen Award for Best Actress in Television and was nominated for a Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series & an MTV Movie + TV Award in the category of Breakthrough Performance as well nominations for 2 Gold Derby Awards for Drama Actress and Breakthrough Performance. The show has proved an invaluable education for many generations of the LGBTQ community. MJ was recently cast as the lead in the upcoming Apple TV+ series LOOT, alongside Maya Rudolph – can’t wait for that duo. 

As a singer, Michaela Jae recently released her debut single, “Something to Say”. with sounds from Disco, R&B, and Funk Tinged Pop, it is an immediate anthem that has Michaela calling people to step into their truth and let their voices be heard. This is her story, in her voice. Previous singing includes roles in Off-Broadway debut in New World Stages production of RENT as Angel, before continuing onto New York City Center to star in Encores! production of Runaways. She also starred as Audrey in the Pasadena Playhouse’s production of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. If you haven’t watched the clip of Suddenly Seymour from her performance on the Late Late Show with James Corden, you have to! She reinvented the role for a new generation.

On this episode, we chat with Micheala Jae about getting into ballroom at 14, growing up in a multicultural household, how Pose has changed her life, memories from RENT and Little Shop of Horrors, her fans, comic books, and her new music…with host Alexander Rodriguez. 


This act, so please welcome mackillya,Roderiga, everybody hey, so we got rodrigues to Rodriguez.You know, I'm sure we have family together. I was, or you might be, mycousin, you might be Mike Cousin, so singing singing is not new to you.But this is your debut single, something to say it's kind of naked,putting the song out: it's not singing in a roll. It's not somebody else'sscript. It's all you! What was that spark that inspired you to say now isthe time for the single you know I felt like we had just came off of abeautiful run of a show that not only incorporated the life Lgbtq, Iindividuals, but it incorporated. Obviously, a gory is amazing, a grazingamazing grazing grace. I agree in grace howsweet no, but it really had a just a beautiful, like dramatic field to theshow, obviously was a drama and not to mention it incorporated music and whenwe ended on Thir season. I was just like Oh work. This is a perfect timefor people to see the person outside of Blanka and inside of M J, which ismccallie so yeah. I just I'm going to people that really see what I have tooffer as an artist and what I have to say as an artist which is the owel. Do I say it's a complete Boband I absolutely love it and it's fun to listen to and it gets you movinglike from the very first note, but there's some powerful words in here:it's not just a Bob. What is the song really about, so the songs imgig to sayis really about just uplifting and togetherness and speaking out, knowingwho you are never being afraid to speak out, because we all have something tosay, knowing that we are more in common than we actually realize, and itdoesn't take just one group of people it takes all of us. My favorite lyricis black and brown yellow in. Why? Let's stand for something tonight likeit's a collective we're here as a collective as the human race, so yeah there's a bigger purpose behindthe song. You know the music gets you up, but the lyrics actually are veryserious. Now Mala Jay, you know this lastadministration, our community went through a lot and so stand forsomething there were people standing for something on the opposite side ofour fence and actually h against us and hurting us. How do we build bridgeswith them now that things have calmed down a little bit a little bit or do weeven try, or do we just work on making our community stronger? I think, mostimportantly, we have to keep trying, I think, there's some people out therewho just don't have the education and who don't mean any harm. We know thepeople that mean harm, it's been very prevalent to us and it now it'severywhere. We see it now more than we have ever so now. We know thosespecific people we distance ourselves from, but the people who are actuallywilling to learn and who are willing to understand who are willing is reallywilling to getting into our lives and...

...our story. We should give them just alittle bit of grace to and then if they meet us with something like. Oh well,that's just not what I'm here for Wut then we obviously know where we shouldgo. We should separate ourselves some ever to, but I still think there is aspace for everyone on this earth for understanding and not every person on this planet has understanding of the human conditionright. But there are some of us who so happen to be in the LBL GB Tkacommunity, who so happened to be in a black and POC community who happened tobe in the white community who actually do understand the human condition andsee the bigger picture and why we deserve to be together. So with thosepeople who've been creating those legislations and who have been deemingUS something that we're not. You know you can keep doing what you'redoing, but we're not going anywhere and we're going to keep fighting and we'rebeating the stereotypes were stepping up and fighting up against thestigmas. We are literally here and we are not going to nowhere go. You are sobeautiful. Now you started, you started actingvery early, a professionally like around eleven you, you studied at NewJersey, young theater program. Were your parents? Whites, your family,supportive of you being in the entertainment industry early on yeah?Believe it or not, a mom was one of the main driving forces of one in the musicindustry. Today, when I was eleven years old, she put me into a programcalled new der performing our center North New Jersey all day, brick cityjust wanted to throw that out there but and yeah it's my mom just made sure shewas adamant with me. She made sure that she kept my energy focused, and she sawthat I had an ax and a love for the arts, especially music, so she justkept me diligent in it it. It really send, sir, about that. MyDad Ye both of my dad's art, the highlight to they made sure, and theyalso protect me. So anybody try me it's gonna be a problem. Now. What has factsof your family heritage? Are you the most proud of my a heritage as far as like ethnicityor ye heritage? Is Part: Okay well heritage as far as ethnicity andculture I'm proud of both I love being an Afroasian, I love being black and Ilove being a Latina. I feel, like you, know, there's pieces of my communitythat have showed up in ways that I've never thought before, and that was dueto my in security. That was due to me already building a a shield up formyself, because I know what the world is capable of. I know what humans arecapable of. You know and I'm not exempt from that. So with me, knowing I'm noteximet. I also channel that to other humans on this earth, but I'm veryproud of being black Latina and possibly many other things out there.You know what I mean. I don't know my...

...fault background, but it's empowering to bean Apolon, a woman in this time and also to be a transman at that and justyou know, live in my truth. So yeah I'm happy with both and I stand for everypart of my communities. I culture, I love it. It sent chill down my spinewhen I saw you perform audrey and little shop of horrors, especiallysinging suddenly Seymore. We have heard that song in every revival. EveryKaraoke bar every thing along every you know, cabaret, see, new performance onthe late late show was so moving and inspiring. It was so different. It wasfresh. How did you approach doing that role and that song in particular, vocalkeys, were changed? Energies were changed. It was something so new. Howdid you approach that role? Oh I mean I was very nervous at first because, asyou said, vocal keys were changed and I was still in this phase of likecomfortabilisme with my voice and how people receive my voice in alldifferent facets of it. So that came into play once I got over, that themain focus was really representing all women. You know like no one has evergotten a chance to play Audrey, who is trans and Afro Atina. So I wanted tospeak for every single last person who was within those intersections who wasblack, who was Letiga a D who is trans or whose Asian or who's a wide womanthat doesn't feel like she's, a stereotypical blond woman who has tofeel inferior or has to be considered dumb because she's blind like I wantedto break down those barriers, and I feel like the only way to do that wasto go into that role. And now any woman who goes into that rule, whether she beSIS or trans she's not going to go into it. Thinking that she has to do thischaracter or this caricature excuse me, she can go in there with the story ofthis woman who is fighting and who has been battered and who has been brokenbut finds herself through someone who actually sees her with just see moreand that's one of the reasons why suddenly Seymore was one of my favoritemoments too, because it was speaking to myself, like those words, spoke to meas a woman of the Trans Experience, and if it spoke to me that I know it spoketo all of those women out there who were looking at me, who possibly knewor didn't know that I was trans but saw me and understood so yeah. It wasamazing. Now we're celebrating the twenty fifth anniversary of rent andrent. Was your off Broadway debut a playing angel? What did you learn fromthe character angel that you incorporated into your own life? Ilearned from Angel and what I incorporated from her is that she livedevery day as if it was her last and I live my days like every single day likeit were my last. I love she taught me that and what a strong individual, that personwas simply bearing and dealing with the...

...onslaught of Hiba's. At that time likethat was empowering to me- and I mean you know- that the death of her wasvery emotional to me, but the fact that her, her spirituality, her her energywas left through all of these strong characters. This strong, ensemble itmade me might have to leave that kind of legacy it made me want to have toleave that kind of impression on people when I'm gone like this is what youneed to do. What you need to keep doing. You need to give love, and sometimeswhen people are down get them up, make them happy. You know so yeah, were you ready for all the attentionthat pose was going to bring? No did you have any idea? I was not ready forall of it. I mean I was ready for the work of it all. I was ready for theprofessionalism of it all. I was ready to get down and dirty into an industrythat I had already been ready to be a part of, but I didn't know o that itwas going to get the extreme reception that it got. I was insecure. I wasworried that the world was going to talk about us and you know dem USsomething other than you know what the world usually does with people orindividuals that they have no understanding of, and I was fooled, Iwas proven wrong. The world instead or most of the people of the world shownothing but love so yeah. What did you learn most? Well? Actuallyyou, you actually learned ball room at at the age of fourteen. You gotinvolved in the in the ballroom scene. At such a young age, and your housefather taught you how to vogue. How did you get involved so young inlife so believe it or not? My House, father at the time he was at excuse me he was coming to my schooland he was teaching fashion shows, and I was already Vogan at high schoolalready. I was already with my friends and we were having battles in thecafeteria when I was a senior we had all of this stuff. We were boking down,and but I just remember him seeing me at afashion show- and I did like this kind of like arm crack behind my back and hewas like that's my daughter right there and next thing. I know my two colliesfrom school and this other girl named twitty. We went to rehearsals and therest just went on from there. What did you learn most about youracting from doing post? I feel like what I learned mostimportantly, about acting from pose is just preparation. Never not saying that.I wasn't because I was very prepared because I was a perfectionist and Iwork a Hallig, but right preparation is key in order for you to deliver thesame like how it needs to, especially when it's about other people's lives and Blanca was acollection, Electra Angel, Candy Lulu. They were collections of women who wereliving in that time. So for me, I learned that I had to give homage andmake sure I did and make sure that the pages of the words on the pages were...

...given justice and homage, and what did you learn about yourselffrom doing post? Oh what I learned about myself. I said this. What I learned aboutmyself is that Blanco taught me to be a strong woman,a grown woman, a leader, and you know I don't know how I'm leaving,but I know I'm doing it and I live freely. I live autonomously, but I alsolive with direction. You know, I make sure that I have a set direction of setpurpose. I don't know what my purpose is, but I know there's a purpose and Ifeel like that's what I've learned from pose. Is that there's a purpose and itmay be bigger than you, but you got to just follow it, so I'm following it. Ithought I was very well schooled in our history and the AIDS epidemic, but evenfrom watching the show which inspired me to do more research on my own, itshocked me to learn some of the details and struggles of our community duringthat time period. What did you learn most about that time that shocked you?You know during your research and preparation for the show. You know whatshocked me most is that you know it didn't shine, a light on transman ofcolor actually having this disease and for me I was just so sad about that,because I could I was like well. I can only imagine how many women wanted somekind of outsource. One is some kind of place to go to, but they didn't have itbecause they weren't being seen as much as even the gay community and that's noshade to the Gay Community But writs the truth. You know like right. He weretransome who were not seen. It was at the time I remember they wereconsidering it. You know the the White Man's disease a man's disease and thenyou know the more research came out and they started just stickling it to justgame in in general, when not realizing that it actually was a disease thataffected everyone and that everyone needed the care and everyone neededhelp when it came to that disease. So I learned a lot when posed shut a light on that. Tell me about the last day of filmingwhat was going through your mind that I didn't want to stop. Yeah, Ithink, like us, were shocked when they announced it. It was the last season.We were like yeah what we're not ready. I know I know I'm not going to lie. Imean I knew that there was definitely another chapter for me. I knew that Iwanted to pursue other ventures in my life, but Idid not know that it would happen so quickly, but I will say it was. It wasbeautiful. It was emotional it was enduring and more than anything I feelso strong and empower so the last day I just cried tears of joy. What was one of the funniest momentsfrom filming those three seasons that that you can remember that it's amemory that just comes to your mind and like that was a crazy din, well tolisten. Em Jis got a whole bunch of...

...those and then through some of the cansembers got a hold, but to those two, because there was a fool on that setoutside of Blanka. But Caleb was a fool, just energy, so I said this one part so angels wedding.It was a big day beautiful day, but a huge day we worked long hours that dayand M J didn't lose no energy until like two o'clock in the morning. So I remember me just twirling with this.Like kind of I don't know if you saw the dress, but it had like a shaw allthe way back down. I was twirling with it in front ofeverybody, and everybody would just chill and relax and me my silly selfjust tiling- and I remember my good friend, he's a makeup artist on theshow he was like girl. If you don't sit down, could you just sit down for all,and I was like no every girl lives for their wedding day.Are you kidding, of course, you're going to drag it out and celebrate inthat thing? So, coming up in loot with my Rudolph,we could just see a comedy side. It must be, as as an actor must berefreshing to know that coming off of this very heavy important show, we getto see that that funny side of Makala Jay that you know you work your childs,especially with my Rudolf I mean I couldn't think of a more perfect duo.Tell me about kind of getting to that comedy side of your acting well yeah. Imean I've always wanted to just doven a comedy. I knew I had that kind of likelittle neck, and I knew that I had the ability to really just take it on forFurlon. Take it on head on and when I found out that it was my rudolph thatwas going to be in it. I just felt safe. I felt like this is the perfect womanto be yes, but not safe. As far as like safe industry, wise but safe, whatright like human safe with her with protecting me in that space and justbeing comforting- and you know- she's been in the business for so long- Ifeel like I'm someone, that's going to be under her way like, and I just Ican't wait. I can I wait until I play next to her and we get to dislike Devinto these two different characters, totally different character from Blancaand yeah. The world gets to see it. They get to see this whole story, I'mso excited. I was also very excited to know about your relationship with comicbooks. Your stage name is actually for marvel comics for those that don't knowcharacter, Mary Jane from Spider Man. You also made history as sister boy onthe TV show, Luke Cage, marking the first appearance of both thetransgender actress and character in the Marvel universe. When did your loveof comics? First kind of start, I feel like my love of comic started when Iwas a child like I was a kid. My uncle got me actually hooked into comics,actually Lu cage, which is kind of insane that you mentioned that, becausecade was like one of his comics that he had stacked up in his in his closet,and I was just sneaking into his room and stealing his comic books and aftera while, I had already known how to...

...draw so. I was like I'm going to juststart drawing and creating characters that I think best represent me or who Ifelt you know more resonant with one of them was aboute stormed because she wasthe first black woman to be in a comic book. They need to embellish on herstory a little bit more, just letting out hello, but like yeah, I just feel like he wasthe one that got me hooked on to it, and I just stayed with it. Looking back from where you started,you know this young kid studying theater. Now, looking at the presencethat you have as an activist as an actress as a singer, you look at yoursocial media. I mean having such a strong voice. Did you have any ideathat you would come so far in a relatively short time and you wouldhave such a big voice for our community? Well in a short time. I don't thinkthat I knew, but I did have an understanding of what I wanted to doand what I felt my purpose could have been at a very young age. I wanted tobe someone who was changing and helping and pushingforward and also just being truly and completely immersed in the arts and boy was. I just surprised that ithappened the way I did and I'm glad that it's going to say that way, I'mreally excited I'm just I'm blessed, I'm I'm still with love, and I just Iwant to constantly keep instilling that in people you know, and it just feelsgood. I know I never dreamed it to happen so quickly, but the fact thatit did it just showed me that I have worth, and I and people arelooking to me now and I'm glad, because I'm going to be the example or at leastI'm going to try. I always say that you know I'm going to try to be the exampleas best as I can I'm human well in short time. We talk about you,know the successive pose but T it doesn't. It doesn't betray these yearsand years of training, Berkeley School of music at you know yeah, so you'vebeen at it for a long to. I just have to know what was your least favoriteclass at Proclin music school. Oh my God, so my list favorite class wastheories. That thing was, I her theory is so aw. It's like mess like and it'scrazy, but you know I passed. Thank God when I passed, I was like hey nobodytelling me nothing! Ain't, no jazz artist can tell me not because you knowjazz musicians. They are serious and theory, but yeah. I have to tell you that behind thescenes of say something was released, be saw. We saw you behind the teams ofyour music video. It filled me with such joy, and it gave me such hope not only to see you excel in yetanother form of entertainment that we all getto see now to see the absolute joy on your face and to see you own it likethe Queen that you are. It filled me...

...with tears with happiness and reallywith hope. Like I said this last administration has been has been shitfor us, and I see the leaders and I see the light at the end of the tunnel. SoI thank you for that, and this last question is for social media from thelyrics from your song, something to say you say I have something to say. Sowhat would you like to say right here right now in this moment I gotsomething to say, and this is what I'm going to say: Dear babies out there allacross the world, no matter if your sit or if your trends or, if you're a partof any type of culture or community, keep being you keep loving you keeppushing. Never let anyone tell you that you don't deserve to live or exist,because you do. You have a purpose on this earth and I am Testamento it andif ever you feel that you are at a falter or if you feel that you don'tdeserve to be here, look to me, I promise I'll, be there. I I love you. so much t tell everybodywhere you want them to find you and follow you. So everybody when you lie.If you're listening to this and enjoying please follow me on myinstagram page, it's Mjr, seven, it's also under mcaley on switters well onfacebook, and please check out my songs, download it stream it pretty. PleaseI'm sure you'll enjoy it and I have more content coming out as well as e EP. I couldn't thank you more for spendingsuch time with us, because I know you have a busy day today. Go take a nap. You know I probably not ten ne, I'mprobably going to go out and enjoy I'm happy that I'm having moments anddoesn't happen for the girl. So this is a blessing. This Le Blessing, I'm herewith you and it's a blessing Ye. Thank you. Thank you. So much go enjoy therest of your day and Happy Prior Two thousand and twenty one. Have you prodgain all right that has been my chat withMalaja Rodriguez love, her so much so much. You can read my in depth interview withher in our latest issue of metrosource or go to Metrosource, and that's ourepisode. I'm your host and lead writer for Metrosource, Alexander Rodrigues.You can find me on Instagram at Alexander's on air until next time staytrue and do you go that has been another metrosource. Manylike share subscribe on your favorite podcast player and check out the latestissue of Metrosource magazine on new stands or online at netters com. Followus on Facebook Instagram at that cort and on twitter. That's a course MaUtelam.

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