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Michaela Jaé Rodriguez to receive prestigious GLAAD award at LA ceremony

Previous honorees of the Stephen F. Kolzak award include Laverne Cox, Jim Parsons, Wanda Sykes, Troye Sivan, Sir Ian McKellen and Melissa Etheridge.

On Wednesday, it was announced that Michaela Jaé Rodriguez— known previously as Mj Rodriguez — will receive the Stephen F. Kolzak award at the 33rd annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles.

GLAAD bills itself as "the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization." The annual honor — named after a casting director who devoted his life to raising awareness in the entertainment industry about the discrimination LGBTQ people as well as people living with HIV faced — recognizes LGBTQ media professionals who promote acceptance with previous honorees including Laverne Cox, Jim Parsons, Wanda Sykes, Troye Sivan, Chaz Bono, Sir Ian McKellen and Melissa Etheridge.

2019 MTV Movie And TV Awards - Red Carpet
Mj Rodriguez attends the 2019 MTV Movie and TV Awards at Barker Hangar on June 15, 2019 in Santa Monica, California.Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images for MTV

“Michaela Jaé Rodriguez is an undeniable talent who is changing the way audiences understand trans people while breaking down barriers for the trans community and LGBTQ people of color within the entertainment industry,” said GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Her performance as Blanca on 'Pose' was one of the most important and impactful roles in the history of LGBTQ representation on television, and she continues to spearhead the future of trans visibility and inclusion in entertainment through her talent on screen, in music, and as a passionate activist.”

In January, the 31-year-old took home the Golden Globe for best actress in a TV drama for her role as house mother and nurse Blanca on the FX show “Pose.” It marked the first time in history a trans actress has won a Golden Globe.

This was also the first Golden Globe win for “Pose,” which premiered in 2018.

A few weeks later, Rodriguez posted a selfie on Instagram with the trophy after receiving it in the mail, writing, “Look a what came today !! @goldenglobes this thing is crazy heavy! @fxnetworks @poseonfx this darn things is a whole weapon! Thank you @mrrpmurphy @stevencanals and all my pose fam for opening the door!” 

Rodriguez made history for the first time in summer 2021 after becoming the first transgender performer to be nominated for a lead acting Emmy. Rodriguez is also the first openly transgender woman to win best actress — television at the NAACP Image Awards.

In an interview with Variety, Rodriguez reflected on how being trans in and of itself is activism, saying: “I’m obviously fighting for my community simply because I’m trans, and I have to do that, and I do it because that’s my existence. I wake up in the morning, and that is my activism.”

The GLAAD Media Awards honor media for "fair, accurate and inclusive representations of LGBTQ people and issues," according to the organization. The GLAAD Media Awards ceremonies will be held in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hilton on April 2, 2022, and in New York City at the Hilton Midtown on May 6, 2022.