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‘Pose’ Star Michaela Jaé Rodriguez Wants To Be Your Next Disney Villain

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Nine months after making Hollywood history, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez is ready to smash additional barriers in film, television and music.

This summer, Rodriguez followed up her breakout role on “Pose” by joining Maya Rudolph’s Apple TV+ comedy “Loot.” She also returned to the recording studio to put the finishing touches on her debut EP, a hybrid pop and R&B confection that’s aimed squarely at the dance floor and is slated for release next year.

Rodriguez’s portrayal of house mother Blanca Evangelista on “Pose” won her critical acclaim, and in January she became the first transgender person to win a Golden Globe for that performance.

The New Jersey native, who is Afro Latina, has been an outspoken LGBTQ rights advocate for the duration of her career. The global fame that “Pose” brought, however, has encouraged her to amplify her philanthropic efforts. This fall, she has partnered with Citi and Mastercard to promote the “Chosen Name” campaign, granting account holders the ability to use their chosen name on credit and debit cards.

First introduced in 2020, the program has been hailed as a major step forward for transgender, gender-nonconforming and nonbinary people, whose legal name may not align with their true name on other documents. Prior to 2021, the feature was only accessible to those who underwent a legal name change.

In honor of the campaign, HuffPost spoke with Rodriguez about her latest projects, the iconic Broadway role she’d like to play and her hopes for the future of transgender representation in Hollywood.

Congratulations again on your history-making Golden Globe win for “Pose.” Now that it’s been nine months, how do you feel about that achievement in hindsight?

I didn’t really celebrate that much at first because I didn’t know how to. But now I’m celebrating and I’m enjoying [that success]. I like seeing the timeline, the steps I took to get there. My peers have experienced it, and they’re telling me: “Enjoy it, girl, because it’s fleeting. It passes. Enjoy it right now.” And that’s what I’m doing.

In January, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez made history as the first transgender person to win a Golden Globe for her performance on “Pose.”

Randy Shropshire via Getty Images

You’re currently starring as Sofia Salinas on “Loot” with Maya Rudolph. What drew you to that project?

One of the reasons I chose Sofia Salinas ― well, she chose me actually ― is that she was totally different than Blanca Evangelista. She is this starchy, very stiff, very straight-to-the-point woman. I’m nothing like her, and that’s what made me drawn to her more.

There’s a side to her that a lot of people don’t see. They see the business side of her, but they don’t get to see the personal side of her and why she chooses to be that way. And I hope that the world gets to see that side of her [in Season 2, confirmed in July], because she’s got some crazy relationships.

As a public figure, you can choose to support any number of campaigns and initiatives. Why is Citi and Mastercard’s “Chosen Name” effort significant to you?

They’re the first, literally. They made it available because they know how important this is to the LGBTQIA community when it comes to identity. Your name is so important to you. Everybody knows that. People want to be addressed correctly. It’s a universal thing. I try to align myself with people, with organizations that want to make change happen. And this is one of them.

I think it will instill confidence in young transgender and gender-nonconforming people. That’s the main thing. It gives them space to feel like they can walk in the world and not have to worry about any kind of feedback when they go and change their name.

"There’s a side to her that a lot of people don’t see," Rodriguez (left, with co-star Maya Rudolph) said of her role on the Apple TV+ series "Loot."
“There’s a side to her that a lot of people don’t see,” Rodriguez (left, with co-star Maya Rudolph) said of her role on the Apple TV+ series “Loot.”

MICHAEL TRAN via Getty Images

Your involvement in the campaign comes amid troubling surge in anti-LGBTQ, and specifically anti-trans, legislation across the U.S. How do you process what’s happening at the moment?

I do have moments when I’m down, and I feel everything that’s happening is unfortunate. And I’m like: “OK, what do I do?” But more than that, I’m like: “How do I fix it? Who do I align myself with so we can collectively move the needle forward as a group?”

Your “Pose” co-star Angelica Ross is currently starring in “Chicago” on Broadway. You recently appeared in a Los Angeles production of “Little Shop of Horrors” and the Netflix movie musical “Tick, Tick… Boom!” Any chance we’ll see you returning to the stage soon?

Oh, yeah. I actually have my hands in a couple of things right now. I see myself being back there maybe two or three years down the line. … I want to play Glinda in “Wicked.” I want to be a silly, witty character who’s a little ditzy. Also, she’s the comic relief of the show, so I feel like it would fit perfectly.

As a performer, what are some other realms you’d like to explore moving forward?

I’d love to play a villain — I’m talking a sickening villain, like Maleficent. That’s the next thing I’d like to do. It sounds really challenging, and I want to take it on. Give it to me!

Rodriguez plans to release her debut EP next year.
Rodriguez plans to release her debut EP next year.

Emma McIntyre via Getty Images

What do you say to young LGBTQ people who look to you as a role model?

Well, I love on them, for one. I always tell them to stay rooted in their youth, make sure they stay happy and instill themselves with happiness. And more importantly, don’t let anyone deter them from who they are. Don’t let anyone stop them from their growth. There’s no one who determines how you’re supposed to walk or navigate through this world. No one.

What do you see as the next important step in terms of representation of transgender women of color at the mainstream level?

We need to see more leading trans women, and we need more trans women centered in stories. It doesn’t have to be a trans-specific story, but just a story everybody can relate to.

I think there just needs to be more of us in these spaces ― more producers, more directors, more actors just to be seen. If we shared space with these peers, then we should at least have a seat at the table.

I do believe change is happening, watching the Emmys this year and seeing wonderful women of color like Zendaya, Quinta Brunson and Sheryl Lee Ralph win. It goes to show that there is some change happening, and hopefully that will [extend] to transgender women of color too.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity and length.





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Tattoo Removal Studio Offers Freebies To Regretful Kanye West Fans

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A London tattoo removal studio is offering free sessions to people who no longer want Kanye West inked on their bodies.

Naama Studios first posted the offer last month, saying it would remove tattoos of the rapper, who has changed his name to Ye, free of charge.

The business later shared videos of two happy clients who had taken advantage of the deal, promoted with the tagline “Yeezy come, Yeezy go.”

“When you have a tattoo inspired by someone you admire and they end up making headlines for all the wrong reasons…” the post read.

“We understand that tattoos can be triggering for some people and not everyone can afford to remove their tattoos,” the business told The Washington Post. According to the Post, several people had already started to process of getting Ye tattoos removed, and around ten more had reached out to Naama for consultations. The procedure reportedly costs up to 2000 pounds (roughly $2400).

Ye lost fans and placed his business empire in crisis after making a series of antisemitic and hateful statements in public since early October. He was repeatedly suspended from social media platforms and dropped by most of his professional partners.

On Thursday, he openly defended Adolf Hitler and Nazis during a trainwreck interview on Alex Jones’s Infowars show, accompanied by white supremacist Nick Fuentes. Later that day, he was suspended from Twitter for tweeting a swastika merged with the Star of David.





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Theo James Was Shocked By ‘Ginormous’ Prosthetic Penis Used For ‘The White Lotus’ NSFW Scene

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Actor Theo James has a massive…sense of humor when it comes to starring in nude scenes for HBO’s “The White Lotus.”

Appearing Friday on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” the actor — who went viral for a steamy scene in the second season premiere of the comedy-drama series — revealed that the fake “pee-pee” he wore for the NSFW scene in the show was “ginormous.”

The much-talked-about nude scene features James, who plays businessman Cameron Babcock, stripping completely naked to change into a swimsuit while Harper (Aubrey Plaza) watches in the bathroom.

“The truth of it was, you go into these scenes, and you have a conversation with the director and the producers and they go, ‘Okay, for this, we’re going to use a prosthetic,’” the 37-year-old recalled of the popular scene. “And you say, ‘Okay, that sounds good.’”

However, despite giving his input to makeup chief Rebecca Hickey about wanting to sport a more modest faux penis, things didn’t quite go according to plan.

“I said, ‘Honestly, I just want it not to be distracting,’” he told host Jimmy Fallon.

“It needs to be ‘Regular Joe.’ Because the scene, you know, it’s not about the pee pee; it’s about power play and sex. It’s about whether he did it deliberately or whether it was an accident and what that means. She says, ‘I got you. Yeah, I got you. Regular Joe.’” James continued.

To James’ surprise, “Regular Joe” was not what he received.

According to the British actor, when he arrived on set, Hickey approached him with a fake penis so outrageously large that it looked like she had “a hammer.”

“I mean, it’s bigger than that. It’s like she stole it off a donkey in the field. The thing is ginormous. And me and the director, Mike White, are sitting there going, ‘That’s… average, is it?’” he joked.

James then quipped that both he and White immediately ran off to call their “respective partners” to profusely apologize, like “I’m so sorry.”

“It was nine inches flat and about four inches wide. We were like, ‘What the hell is that?’” he added, laughing.

Speaking to Entertainment Tonight in October, James shared it “felt natural” to go sans clothes in front of the camera for the scene in the primetime Emmy-winning series.

He jokingly added, “It is in my contract that I’m not allowed to do anything without being completely naked.”

Just a month later, James told the outlet that audiences didn’t get a chance to see the initial scene they planned because it was “way too much,” so they “toned it [down].”

“The original derivation of it, it’s kind of full-frontal, if you know what I mean. We shot that and it felt too much, too aggressive,” he told Entertainment Weekly in November. “What we came to is a bit more opaque, and that’s exactly what Mike does so well. You’re never sure a hundred percent of the characters’ intentions.”

“The White Lotus” airs new episodes on HBO and HBO Max at 9 p.m. on Sunday nights.





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Prince Harry Hits Out At ‘Baseless’ Story That Pits ‘Him Against His Country’

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Prince Harry is shutting down a recent report that accused him of telling a friend “Those Brits need to learn a lesson” ahead of the couple’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey last year.

The global press secretary for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex told HuffPost that “this is a baseless hit piece masquerading as journalism.’”

“This story is riddled with inaccuracies, not least of which is a quote erroneously attributed to Prince Harry,” the spokesperson said Sunday.

“To accuse a man who spent 10 years serving his country of wanting to teach that same country a lesson is not only an attempted distraction but an unfortunate and predictable tabloid strategy,” she added. “To pit him against his country is shameful and manipulative, especially when Prince Harry has never spoken ill of the British public.”

The Sun did not immediately respond to a HuffPost request for further comment.

The story and response come on the heels of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s recent, three-day tour of Boston, where they were for the Earthshot Prize Awards.

As the tour nearly coincided with the release of Harry and Meghan Markle’s forthcoming Netflix docuseries, a palace source prior to the trip said the Prince and Princess of Wales wouldn’t “be distracted by other things.”

A trailer for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s six-part series with the streaming giant dropped on the second day of William and Kate’s royal tour, leading many to question the timing of its release.

In the teaser, a voice asks Harry, “Why did you want to make this documentary?”

“No one sees what happens behind closed doors,” the prince responds. “I had to do everything I could to protect my family.”

“When the stakes are this high, doesn’t it make sense to hear our story from us?” Meghan later adds in the clip.





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Kenan Thompson’s Herschel Walker Is Confident About His Erection On ‘SNL’

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He addressed Tennessee GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn (Cecily Strong) as “your Highness,” called Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell (James Austin Johnson) “Mr. McDonald,” and admitted there are still “so many” bad things about him people don’t know.

At the end of a long tale of bad things, “Walker” concludes: “Anyway, she didn’t want to keep it, so I drove her down to the Planned Parent Trap.”

When voting by mail was mentioned, “Walker” noted: “You gotta remember, they still gotta count votes by female.”

The Republican brain trust was so rattled they decided to lock Walker in a room — just for a few days.





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‘Weekend Update’s’ Colin Jost Knows The Password For Dinner With Trump At Mar-A-Lago

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“Weekend Update” co-anchor Colin Jost skewered Kanye West on “Saturday Night Live” for his recent string of jaw-dropping antisemitic statements, and included a tip about a Mar-a-Lago password.

“You guys are not gonna believe this, but Alex Jones and Kanye West got together this week, and it didn’t go great,” Jost noted.

“Kanye West [now known as Ye] made antisemitic jokes, and said ‘I like Hitter,’ which is also the password he used to get into Mar-a-Lago,” where he had dinner with former President Trump last week, Jost quipped.

“At this point, I don’t think Kanye’s off his meds, so much as he’s immune to them,” Jost added. “We’re basically dealing with the omicron variant of Kanye,” complete with “the brain fog of long-haul Kanye,” he added.

“What I don’t understand about this Kanye stuff, is if Jews do control the media” — as Kanye insists — “then how are we still seeing a new interview with Kanye every day?” Jost asked.

Check it out below at the start of “Weekend Update.”


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Rami Malek Highlights 1 ‘Extraordinary’ Aspect Of Prince William’s Environmental Awards

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BOSTON ― Rami Malek had nothing but praise for Prince William’s take on sustainability at The Earthshot Prize Awards in Massachusetts on Friday night.

The Oscar-winning actor ― who has attended his fair share of awards ceremonies ― told HuffPost just why the Prince of Wales’ focus on a consciously produced show was so “extraordinary” to him.

“It makes you think about everything you’re doing, [like] how you’re getting here,” he said. Guests were encouraged to travel with a low carbon footprint to the show, which was purposely located within walking distance of many points in Boston.

“We’re all reusing our outfits, which is something you don’t usually see in our line of work,” Malek added with a laugh and a smile. “I appreciate that. It’s been extremely well considered and well thought of, and hopefully influences the way we carry through our day-to-day.”

The Prince and Princess of Wales speak with actor Rami Malek backstage after The Earthshot Prize Awards on Friday in Boston.

Samir Hussein via Getty Images

Presenters and hosts were taken by electric vehicle to the ceremony, which was run by local crews to avoid flying in British staffers. Makeup used for the event was vegan and cruelty-free, while the food was plant-based. No single-use plastics were present.

Rather than the typical red runner, guests instead arrived on a green carpet, which was reused from the 2021 Earthshot Prize Awards and then recycled after the event. Attendees were encouraged to rewear outfits, or to source something vintage or sustainable for the ceremony (which is why Kate Middleton’s choice to rent a $91 gown was right on theme).

All of the sustainable touches ― plus the recognition of the five winners of The Earthshot Prize, who were honored for their efforts to save the planet ― made for an evening that Malek said meant the world to him.

“I appreciate what Prince William’s doing,” Malek said, adding that ecological decline is the “greatest crisis of our lifetime.”

“We can really effect change in the greatest way with these innovators who are being awarded this evening. It could easily be thought of as something that is pessimistic gloom and doom, and Earthshot’s taken a way to flip it on its head and say, ‘Let’s inspire people.’”

Malek speaks to HuffPost on Friday at The Earthshot Prize Awards, held at the MGM Music Hall at Fenway.
Malek speaks to HuffPost on Friday at The Earthshot Prize Awards, held at the MGM Music Hall at Fenway.

Boston Globe via Getty Images

“Let’s come up with the greatest solutions we can to save this planet, because you think about everything going on in the world — and all the crises — this is the greatest one we’ll ever live with,” the actor added. “And hopefully we’ll find a way to beat it. I know we can.”

Earlier Friday, the Prince of Wales published an exclusive essay for HuffPost, talking about why he remains a “stubborn optimist” about the Earth’s future.

“Dire predictions about our natural world aren’t the only side to this story and they don’t have to be our future,” the royal wrote. “In this critical decade, I invite you all to be optimistic, to support the game-changers and to believe in the power of human ingenuity.”





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‘Love Is Blind’ Star SK Slams ‘False’ Claims That He Cheated On Co-Star Raven

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“Love is Blind” Season 3-star Sikiru Alagbada, aka SK, has released a statement about the cheating allegations he faced last month.

SK said that claims that he cheated on his co-star and former fiancée Raven Ross are “false” in a statement to Life and Style on Thursday.

The reality TV star was called out for having romantic connections outside his relationship with Ross by multiple women on social media last month. One woman, whose TikTok username is @Hannahbethstyle, posted a since-deleted video capturing moments of her with SK. She claimed that the two began dating in 2019 and had taken a trip together as recently as May this year.

SK told Life and Style that they were not in a relationship.

“At no point did we consider each other boyfriend and girlfriend,” he said. “She is not my ex… The situation between Hannah and I was never formal.”

He claimed that there were “misconceptions about the timeline” of his relationship with Ross and that he was a “single guy” shortly after the show stopped filming.

Ross and SK met while filming the third season of the popular Netflix reality dating show, which premiered in October. The show allows strangers to date without seeing each other and decide whether or not to get engaged. When couples decide to get engaged, they meet in person and live together before they have the opportunity to choose to get married at the altar on their wedding day.

SK and Ross got engaged on the show, but SK shocked viewers when he said “No” to marrying Ross at the altar on their wedding day. The couple surprised fans of the show when they revealed they rekindled their relationship on the show’s reunion episode, which premiered on Nov. 9.

The pair announced they ended their relationship in a joint statement shared on their Instagram Stories on Nov. 20. The announcement came after multiple allegations of cheating were made against SK.

“We are saddened to announce that we have decided to go our separate ways,“ the since-expired post read, according to People. ”Due to the ongoing legal proceedings surrounding these allegations, we can not provide additional details and ask that you please respect our privacy during this hard time.“





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