Rodriguez played Blanca Evangelista, an HIV-positive ball competitor who left her ballroom "house" to start a new one from scratch. The nurturing house mother was at the center of the series, which has been hailed by critics but historically snubbed at awards shows. For instance, Rodriguez's Golden Globe was also Pose's first.
Since its start in 2018, Pose has received 20 Emmy nominations and four awards. In 2019, Billy Porter became the first openly gay Black man to win the best actor Emmy for his role in the show.
Pose cast members and fans have been vocal about the show's lack of recognition. In 2020, stars Indya Moore and Angelica Ross spoke out against the Emmys for overlooking the show's Black transgender cast in its list of nominees.
"Something abt trans ppl not being honored on a show abt trans ppl who created a culture to honor ourselves bc the world doesn't," Moore tweeted from their since-deleted account.
"I want you to know from the jump that these tears are not about an award or a nomination," Ross said on Instagram at the time. "Ultimately, I need y'all to understand that I'm so tired—those of you who know me know I'm not just working on screen or behind screen but I'm working around the clock to get our society to value trans lives and Black trans lives."
In a 2020 opinion piece for the Television Academy, Rodriguez wrote about the career challenges she faced as an Afro-Latina and called for more representation of Black and Latino communities behind and in front of the cameras, urging the Academy to give marginalized groups a seat at the table and recognize their hard work, art and talent.
Rodriguez made history last summer when she became the first openly transgender performer to be nominated for a lead acting Emmy in a full-length series, an award she ultimately did not win.
In a 2018 interview with NPR, Rodriguez described her character as "this rambunctious, very, very nurturing, compassionate, a little bit hardheaded, but ambitious spirit." She spoke about the parts of Blanca's experience that bore similarities to her own, like being ostracized from their community but choosing to move forward and lift others up.
"There were moments where I was called many derogatory names. I've gotten into a couple of fights. People have jumped me," Rodriguez said. "You know, I've had a lot of things that have happened to me, but I look past those things now and now I'm moving forward and I always believe that the experiences that you go through are what make you stronger and what help you push forward through life."