It’s been two years since Mj Rodriguez first appeared on our screens as Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista, the straight-talking, big-hearted mother of the House of Evangelista — the role that would catapult her to international stardom and change the landscape of TV forever. As fans gear up for season three (rumours are it’s dropping mid-summer), the Pose phenomenon is about to level up once again. The seasoned musical-theatre-turned-TV star is also set to hit the big screen later this year in a hush-hush project she can’t talk about just yet (sorry, we tried).

With 2020 shaping up to be her busiest year yet, vacations aren’t something that the actress gets to take all that much of. For Milan Fashion Week — Rodriguez’s first trip outside the US — the star made an exception to the rule, bagging her US passport in under 48 hours, jumping on a plane to the Italian fashion capital and plotting a day trip to Venice along with her boyfriend.

From the inner strength she cultivated as a child to championing a new era in Hollywood, here’s just a few of the life lessons we learned from Mj Rodriguez.

On home

“I grew up in Newark, New Jersey. I love it there — it’s a place that has a strong heartbeat, it’s thriving with talent and there’s a lot of culture there, [which is] one of the reasons [why] I haven’t moved. I see a lot of growth; I love seeing the evolution of my culture and people of colour from the time of the riots until now. [As] a kid, I didn’t have all the money in the world; my mum and dad were making ends meet. They knew a child, like myself, would possibly have it hard in Newark, New Jersey, but they made sure they taught me the things I needed to learn, especially being confident.”

On realising her potential 

“I went to New Jersey Performing Arts Center and that was the catalyst to my career. [It was] the first space that I could express my artistic vocabulary. It felt good to be seen. I was an R&B girl and I really wanted to be a pop star, who would have thought that acting [would take] over my life? The teachers were coming out of New York City to teach kids who had all the potential in the world, but didn’t necessarily have the means. They were the ones who helped me get a scholarship into Berklee College of Music.”

Mj Rodriguez is wearing Etro throughout 

Photography Pavel Golik

On inner strength

“When I was younger, I used to get yelled at a lot on the street and I never responded to that. Because that’s not how you’re going to communicate with me. My [family] were always behind me — it didn’t matter who I was or how I presented — they were always behind me because they knew my heart. They knew how I wanted to create change. It also started with me, too. I can’t leave myself out. The will that I had and the strength that I had at a very young age, catapulted [my family] to champion me even more.



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