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 is so please welcome Michaela JRodriguez. Everybody. Hey, so we got Rodriguez to Rodriguez. You know, I'm sure we have family together. I was somewhere. You might bemy cousin. You might be my cousin. How so singing, singing is notnew 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 arole, it's not somebody else's script, it's all you. What was thatspark that inspired you to say now is the time for this single? Youknow, I felt like we had just came off of a beautiful run ofa show that not only incorporated the life of Lgbtq a I individuals, butit incorporated obviously, a grey is it amazing, a grazing huh, amazing, a grazing grace. Okay, grazing grace, how sweet? No,but uh it. It really had an just a beautiful, like dramatic fieldto the show. Obviously was a drama and not to mention it incorporated music. And when we ended on third season, I was just like, Oh work, this is a perfect time for people to see the person outside ofBlanca and inside of Mj, which is Michaela Jay. So yeah, Ijust I want to people there really see what I have to offer as anartist and what I have to say as an artist. Which is the song? Well, Donna say, it's a complete BOP and I absolutely love itand it's to listen to and it gets you moving, like from the veryfirst note. But there's some powerful words in here. It's not just aBob. What is the song really about? So the song something to say isreally about just upliftment and togetherness and speaking out, knowing who you areand never being afraid to speak out, because we all have something to say, knowing that we are more and common than we actually realize, and itdoesn't take just one group of people, it takes all of us. Myfavorite lyric is black and Brownness, yellow and why? Let's stand for somethingtonight, like it's a collective. We're here as a collective, as ahuman race. So yeah, there's a bigger purpose behind the song. Youknow, the music gets you up, but the lyrics actually are very serious. Now, Mikaela Jay, you know this last administration, our community wentthrough a lot, and so stand for something. There were people standing forsomething on the opposite side of our fence and actually against us and hurting us. How do we build bridges with them now that things have come down alittle bit, a little bit, or do we even try? Or dowe just work on making our community stronger? I think most importantly, we haveto keep trying. I think there are some people out there who justdon't have the education and who don't mean any harm. We know the peoplethat mean harm. It's been very prevalent to us and now it's everywhere.We see it now more than we have ever. So now we know thosespecific people we distance ourselves from. But the people who are actually willing toare and who are willing to understand and who are willing, it is,really willing to getting into our lives and...

...our story. We should give themjust a little bit of grace to and then if they meet us with somethinglike oh well, that's just not what I'm here for. What, thenwe obviously know where we should go. We should separate ourselves from them too. But I still think that the space for everyone on this or for understanding, and not every person on this planet has understanding of the human condition.Right, but there are some of us who so happened to be in theLGBT, Lgbtqai community, who so happened to be in the black and POCcommunity, who happened to be in the white community, who actually do understandthe human condition and see the bigger picture and why we deserve to be together. So with those people who've been creating those legislations and who have been deemingUS something that we're not, you know, you can keep doing what you're doing, but we're not going anywhere and we're going to keep fighting and we'rebeating the stereotypes. Were stepping up and and fighting up against the the stigmas. We are literally here and we are not going nowhere go. You areso beautiful now. You started, you started acting very early professionally, likearound eleven. You You you studied at New Jersey Young Theater Program. We'reyour parents. Was Your family supportive of you being in the entertainment industry orreally on? Yeah, believe it or not, a mom was one ofthe main driving forces why I'm in the Music Industry today. When I waseleven years old, she put me into a program called nudity performing our centerNorth New Jersey all day break city. Just want to throw that out there. But, and yeah, it's my mom just made sure she was adamantwith me. She made sure that she kept my energy focused and she sawthat I had a knaxed and a love for the arts, especially music.So she just kept me diligent in it it. It really sounds myself.Sorry about that. My Dad. Yeah, my Dad's are highlights to they madesure and they also protect me. So anybody trying me, it's gonnabe a problem. Now, what aspects of your family heritage are you themost proud of? My heritage as far as like ethnicity or heritage as part. Okay, well, heritage. As far as ethnicity and culture, I'mproud of both. I love being an Afrola, being a woman, Ilove being black and I love being a Latina. I feel like, youknow, there's pieces of my community that have showed up in ways that Inever thought before, and that was due to my insecurity, that was dueto me already building a shield up for myself, because I know what theworld is capable of. I know what humans are capable of, you know, and I'm not exempt from that. So, with me knowing I'm notexempt from that. I also channel that to other humans on this earth.But I'm very proud of being black, Latina and possibly many other things outthere. You know what I mean. I don't know my full background,but it's empowering to be an Afro Latina...

...woman in this time and also tobe a trans woman at that, and just, you know, living mytruth. So yeah, I'm happy with both and I stand for every partof my communities, I culture. I love it. It set chills downmy spine when I saw you perform. Audrey and little shop of horrors,especially singing, suddenly seemore. We have heard that song and every revival,every Karaoke Bar, every sing along, every you know, cabaret. Seeingyou performance on the late, late show was so moving and inspiring. Itwas so different, it was fresh. How did you approach doing that role, and that song in particular? Vocal keys were changed, energies were changed, it was something so new. How did you approach that role? WhoI mean? I was very nervous at first because, as you said,vocal keys were changed and I was still in this phase of like comfortability withmy voice and how people receive my voice and in all different fasts of it, so that came into play. Once I got over that, the mainfocus was really representing all women, you know, like no one has evergotten a chance to play Audrey, who is trans and Afro Latina. SoI wanted to speak for every single last person who was within those intersections,who was black, who was Latina, who was trans, or WHO's Asianor who's a white woman that doesn't feel like she's the stereotypical blond woman whohas to feel inferior or has to be considered dumb because she's blind. LikeI wanted to break down those barriers and I feel like the only way todo that was to go into that role. And now any woman who goes intothat role, whether she be sister trans, she's not going to gointo it thinking that she has to do this character or this caricature. Excuseme, she can go in there with the story of this woman who isfighting and who has been battered and who has been broken, but finds herselfthrough someone who actually sees her, which is see more, and that's oneof the reasons why suddenly see more. Was One of my favorite moments too, because it was speaking to myself like those words spoke to me as awoman of the Trans Experience, and if it spoke to me that, Iknow it spoke to all of those women out there who were looking at me, who possibly knew or didn't know that I was trans, but saw meand understood. So, yeah, it was amazing. Now we're celebrating thetwenty five anniversary of rent, and rent was your off Broadway debut. I'mplaying angel. What did you learn from the character angel that you incorporated intoyour own life? I learned from Angel, and what I incorporated from her,is that she lives every day as if it was her last, andI live my days, like every single day, like if a where mylast I live. She taught me that and what a strong individual that personwas. Simply bearing and dealing with the...

...onslaught of HIV and AIDS at thattime like that was empowering to me, and I mean, you know,the death of her was very emotional to me, but the fact that herher spirituality, her her her energy was left through all of these strong characters, this strong ensemble, it made me want to have to leave that kindof legacy and made me want to have to leave that kind of impression onpeople when I'm gone, like this is what you need to do, whatyou need to keep doing. You need to give love and sometimes, whenpeople are down, get them up, make them happy. You know.So, yeah, were you ready for all the attention that pose was goingto bring? No, did you have any idea? I was not readyfor all of it. I mean, I was ready for the work ofit all, I was ready for the professionalism of it all. I wasready to get down and dirty into an industry that I had already been readyto be a part of, but I didn't know that it was going toget the extreme reception that it got. I was insecure. I was worriedthat the world was going to talk about us and, you know, deemUS something other than, you know, what the world usually does with peopleor individuals that they have no understanding of. And I was cooled. I wasproven wrong. The world instead, or most of the people of theworld, show nothing but love. So, yes, what did you learn most? Well, I'm actually you. You actually learned ballroom at that theage of fourteen. You got involved in the in the ballroom scene at sucha young age, and your house father taught you how to vogue. Howdid you get involved so young in life? So, believe it or not,my house father at the time he was at excuse me, he wascoming in my school and he was teaching fashion shows and I was already voguingat high school already. I was already with my friends and we were havingbattles that in the cafeter area when I was a senior. We had allof this stuff. We were voguing down and but I just remember him seeingme at a fashion show and I did like this kind of like arm crackbehind my back and he was like, that's my daughter right there, andnext thing I know, my to colleague from school and this other girl namedtwitty. We went some rehearsals and the rest just went on from there.What did you learn most about your acting from doing pose? I feel likewhat I learned most importantly about acting from pose is just preparation. I'm nevernot saying that I wasn't because I was very prepared, because I was aperfectionist and a workaholic. But right preparation is key in order for you todeliver the seeing like how it needs to, especially when it's about other people's livesand Blanco was a collection Electra, Angel, Candy and Lulu. Theywere collections of women who were living in that time. So for me,I learned that I had to give homage and make sure I did and makesure that the pages, the words on the pages, were given justice andhomage. And what did you learn about...

...yourself from doing pose? Oh,what I learned about myself, I said, is well, I learned about myselfis that Blunca taught me to be a strong woman, a grown woman, a leader. And you know, I don't know how I'm leading,but I know I'm doing it and I live freely, I live autonomously,but I also live with direction. You know, I make sure that Ihave a set direction, of set purpose. I don't know what my purpose is, but I know there's a purpose and I feel like that's what I'velearned from pose, is that there's a purpose and it may be bigger thanyou, but you got to just follow it. So I'm following it.I thought I was very well schooled on our history and the AIDS epidemic,but even from watching the show, which inspired me to do more research onmy own, it shocked me to learn some of the details and struggles ofour community during that time period. What did you learn most about that timethat that shocked you, you know, during your research and preparation for theshow? You know, what shocked me most is that, you know,it didn't shine a light on Trans Women of color actually having this disease,and for me I was just so sad about that because I was like,well, I can only imagine how many women wanted some kind of outsoors oneis some kind of place to go to, but they didn't have it because theyweren't being seen as much as even the gay community. and that's noshade of the gay community, but it's the truth. You know, likeright, there were trans women who were not seeing. It was at thetime, I remember they were considering it, you know, the the white men'sdisease, gay man's disease, and then, you know, the moreresearch came out and they started just sticklering it to just gay men in general, when not realizing that it actually was a disease that affected everyone and thateveryone needed the care and everyone needed help when it came to that disease.So I learned a lot when posed shut a light on that tell me aboutthe last day of filming. What was going through your mind that I didn'twant to stop? Yeah, I think I guess for shocked. When theyannounced it it was the last season. We were like yeah, what,we're not ready. I know, I know, I'm not gonna lie.I mean I knew that there was definitely another chapter for me. I knewthat I wanted to pursue other ventures in my life, but I did notknow that it would happen so quickly. But I will say it was.It was beautiful, it was emotional, it was daring and, more thananything, I feel so strong and empowered. So the last day I just criedtears of joy. What was one of the funniest moments from filming thosethree seasons that you can remember that? It's a memory that just comes toyour mind and like that was a crazy day. Well, now I'll listen. I'm just got a whole bunch of...

...those and then throw at some ofthe cast members. Got To hold back to those two because I'm day wasa fool on that set outside of Blanca, but Caleb was a full energy.So, Um, I'll said this one part. So angels wedding.It was a big day. Beautiful Day, but a huge day. We workedlong hours that day and MJ didn't lose no energy until like two o'clockin a woman. So I remember me just twirling with this like kind ofI don't know if you saw the dress, but it had like a shawl allthe way back down. I was twirling with it in front of everybodyand everybody was just chill and relax and me, my silly self, justtwirling. And I remember my good friend, he's a makeup artist on the show. He was like girl, if you don't sit down, could youjust sit down broll and I'm like no, Girl. Every girl lives for theirwedding day. Are you kidding? Of course you'RE gonna drag it outand celebrate twirling that thing. So coming up in loot with my Rootolf,we get to see a comedy side. It must be as as an actor, must be refreshing to know that, coming off of this very heavy,important show, we get to see that that funny side of Mikayla j thatyou know you work your chops, especially with my routolf. I mean Icouldn't think of a more perfect duo. Tell me about kind of getting tothat comedy side of your acting. Well, yeah, I mean I've always wantedto just dove in a comedy. I knew I had that kind oflike little next and I knew that I had the ability to really just takeit on full on, take it on head on, and when I foundout that it was my rudolf that was going to be in it, Ijust felt safe. I felt like this is the perfect woman to be yes, like not safe as far as like staye industry wise, but safe withher as a human yeah, safe with her, with protecting me in thatspace and just being comforting. And you know, she's been in the businessfor so long. I feel like someone that's going to be under her weighinglike and I just I can't wait. I cannot wait until I play nextto her and we get to dislike delve into these two different characters, totallydifferent character from Blanca. And Yeah, the world gets to see it,they get to see this whole story. I'm so excited. I was alsovery excited to know about your relationship with comic books. Your stage name isactually from marvel comics. For those that don't know, character Mary Jane fromSpider Man. You also made history as sister boy on the TV show LoukeCage, marking the first appearance of both the transgender actress and character in theMarvel universe. When did your love of comics first kind of start? Ifeel like my love of comics started when I was a child, like Iwas a kid. My uncle got me actually hooked into comics, actually LukeCage, which is kind of insane that you mentioned that, because Luke cagewas like one of his comics that he had stacked up in his in hiscloset, and I was just sneaking into his room and stealing his comic booksand after a while I had already known...

...how to draw, so I waslike I'm gonna just start drawing and creating characters that I think best represent meor who I felt, you know, more resonant with. One of themwas obviolutely stormed because she was the first black woman, say being a comicbook. They need to Ambolish for her story a little bit more, justletting out hello, but like yeah, I just feel like he was theone 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 presence that you have as an activist, as anactress, as a singer, you look at your social media, I meanhaving such a strong voice. Did you have any idea that you would comeso far in a relatively short time and you would have such a big voicefor our community? Well, in a short time? I don't think thatI 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 to be someone who was changing and helping and pushing forward and alsojust being truly and completely immersed in the arts. And boy was I justsurprised that it happened the way it did and I'm glad that it's going tosay that way. I'm really excited. I'm just I'm blessed, I'm filledwith love and I just I want to constantly keep in stealing that and people, you know, and it just feels good. I know I never dreamedit to happen so quickly, but the fact that it did it just showedme that I have worth and I and people are looking to me now andI'm glad because I'm going to be the example, or at least I'm goingto try. I always say that. You know, I'm going to tryto be the example as best as I can. I'm human. Well,and a short time we talked about, you know, the success supposed butit doesn't. It doesn't betray these years and years of training Berkeley School ofmusic it, you know. Yeah, it's so yeah, you've been atit for a long time. I just have to know. What was yourleast favorite class at Percy Music School? Oh my God, so my leastfavorite class was theory. That thing was I theory is so hard. It'slike math, like and it's crazy. But you know, I've passed.Thank God. When I passed, I was like, Hey, nobody tellme nothing. Ain't no jazz artist can tell me that, because you knowjazz musicians, they are serious in theory. But yeah, I have to tellyou the behind the scenes of say, something was released. We saw wesaw you behind the scenes of your music video. It filled me withsuch joy and it gave me such hope, not only to see you excel inyet another form of entertainment that that we all get to see now tosee the absolute joy on your face and to see you own it like theQueen that you are. It filled me...

...with tears, with happiness and reallywith hope. Like I said, this last ministration has been, has beenshit for us, and I see the leaders and I see the light atthe end of the tunnel. So I thank you for that. And thislast question is for social media. From their lyrics, from your song.Something to say, you say. I have something to say. So whatwould you like to say? Right here, right now, in this moment,I've got something to say, and this is what I'm going to say. Dear baby's out there all across the world, no matter if you're sistor if your trans or if you're a part of any type of culture orcommunity, keep being you, keep loving, you keep pushing. Never let anyonetell you that you don't deserve to live or exist, because you do. You have a purpose on this earth and I am testament into it.And if ever you feel that you were at a falter or if you feelthat you don't deserve to be here, look to me. I promise I'llbe there. I I love you so much. So tell everybody where youwant them to find you, and follow you. So, everybody, whenyou're if you're listening to this and enjoying please follow me on my instagram page. It's and there, rodrigue seven. It's also under Michael Jay on twitteras well on facebook, and please check out my song, download it,stream it pretty please. I'm sure you'll enjoy it and I have more contentcoming out as well as EP. I couldn't thank you more for spending suchtime with us, because I know you have a busy day today. Gotake a nap. See, you know, I probably not nap. I'm probablygoing to go out and enjoy. I'm happy that I'm having moments.It doesn't happen for the girls. So this is a blessing. It's theblessing. I'm here with you and it's a blessing. Yeah, thank you. Thank you so much. Go enjoy the rest of your day and HappyPride Two thousand and twenty one. Have you pride dance? All right,that has been my chat with Micaela Ja Rodriguez. Love her so much,so much. You can read my indepth interview with her in our latest issueof Metro source or go to Metro sourcecom. And that's our episode. I'm yourhost and lead writer for Metro source, Alexander Rodriguez. You can find meon instagram at Alexanders on air. Until next time, stay true anddo you bow? That has been another metural source mini like share, subscribeon your favorite podcast player and check out the latest issue of Metro Sports magazineon newsstands or online at Metro Forurcecom. Follow us on Facebook, instagram atmeatural source and on twitter at let's just course mad. Until next time,he fast.

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