Pose’s final season showcased the best the show had to offer. Season 3’s final run encapsulated the end of the immediate AIDS crisis, covering the years 1994 to 1998. It also allowed the cast to show what they were made of, and everyone put their best performances forward. The 2021 Emmy nominations reflected that with Pose landing three topline nods. But Mj Rodriguez’s 2021 Emmys nomination for Pose was not just exciting; it was historic, as she became the first transgender actor ever nominated in a major Emmys category.
Pose landed quite a few nominations, with nine nods altogether for its final season. The series captured an Outstanding Drama Series nod, an Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series nod for Billy Porter (his third nomination for playing Pray Tell), and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Rodriguez. It also picked up six Creative Arts Emmy nominations in categories like makeup, costume, and hairstyling.
Although Porter has been recognized before (and won for his work in Season 1), the Television Academy has been far more stingy when it comes to the rest of the cast, which predominately consists of trans women. For some of the actors, like Rodriguez, this is their first significant role in a television series, and perhaps one could understand the hesitation to award them in the show’s first year. But the TV Academy overlooking performances like Rodriguez’s in Season 2 bordered on an outright snub, and would have been an official one had it let Season 3 pass without recognizing her work.
With that in mind, there had been a real push to recognize Pose and its actors in the final season. Show producer Ryan Murphy posted a series of “For Your Consideration” videos on social media, showcasing the work of the entire cast. Meanwhile, GLAAD released an open letter urging the Academy to recognize the groundbreaking program.
“This television season, Emmy voters have the opportunity to make history — an opportunity to celebrate an entire underrepresented community that hasn’t been valued for their artistic vision, creativity, or contributions,” the letter read. “From the beautifully crafted storylines to the remarkable cast performances, Pose broke new ground for transgender inclusion both in front of and behind the camera, leaving behind a legacy that will change the future of trans representation on television. In its final season, TV Academy voters must acknowledge the importance of telling and recognizing diverse storytelling, which includes the performances of trans people of color who have been overlooked for far too long.”
Rodriguez’s nomination is a further sign that TV is changing for the better.
The 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards premiere on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.