Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Sherry Cola and More Urge for Improved LGBTQ Representation in Hollywood: We’re ‘Multidimensional, and We Have Something to Say’

“Loot” and “Pose” star Michaela Jaé Rodriguez says while growing up, the Logo dramedy series “Noah’s Arc,” which followed the lives and relationships of four gay men in Los Angeles, was one of the first shows she saw that made her feel represented.

“There were so many people of color on that show,” Rodriguez told Variety. “They did highlight a lot of trans women. It wasn’t as prominent, but the girls were there. I saw a whole encompassing story around all of the LGBTQIA+ community in that show and it resonated with me, it still resonates with me today.”

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Rodriguez was honored with the Vanguard Award Friday night at the Critics Choice Association’s inaugural Celebration of LGBTQ+ Cinema & Television in Los Angeles. The celebration honored achievements from LGBTQ+ creators and talent within the entertainment industry, both in front of and behind the camera.

“I hope that I can be in spaces where the characters I play are centered more so that it gives hope to the youth, because that’s what they want,” Rodriguez said. “They want to be able to see someone and if they want to obtain any kind of venture, whether it be acting, singing or anything, they can have someone to look to and say, ‘I can achieve that because she got there.'”

Other honorees from the night included “Abbott Elementary” star Chris Perfetti for the Breakthrough Performance Award for television series, “Star Trek” star George Takei for the Social Justice Award, “Palm Royale” showrunner Abe Sylvia for the Showrunner Award, “Baby Reindeer” star Nava Mau for the Breakthrough Performance Award for a limited series and many more.

Carl Clemons-Hopkins, who was honored with the Supporting Performance Television Award for their work on “Hacks,” told Variety that accurate representation stems from getting more representation behind the scenes: “The more that you can show the variety of the world within the variety of the industry, the more we can be a better reflection of what’s going on.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 07: Sherry Cola speaks onstage during the Critics Choice Association's Inaugural Celebration of LGBTQ+ Cinema & Television at Fairmont Century Plaza on June 07, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Critics Choice Association)
Sherry Cola speaks onstage during the Critics Choice Association’s Inaugural Celebration of LGBTQ+ Cinema & Television at Fairmont Century Plaza.

Sherry Cola, who hosted the event, said that the night was about coming together to celebrate the victories, resilience, allies and being fired up to continue to represent stories that are overdue and missing.

Cola explained that having more representation like her character Alice in “Good Trouble” can help inspire queer youth: “The industry needs to just take more chances. Take a risk on us. We will absolutely blow you away. We will prove you wrong. We’re so layered and multidimensional, and we have something to say. And as a matter of fact, people will listen.”

The show streams June 21 on HereTV.

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