As we all know, Pride Month is still in full swing, with celebrations from across social media, all the way to retailers who are openly changing their logos to the colorful, outspoken symbolism of the Pride flag. And someone who is happy to celebrate the moment from the rooter to the tooter, is the stunning Leyna Bloom, the boisterous and unapologetic queen who is taking the industry by storm.
Bloom, who is racking in accolades across the globe, is cementing Pride Month in the best way possible: by being named cover girl of Sport's Illustrated's annual swimsuit, slated to hit stands in July. But outside of being a fierce feline taking over your scrolls, who is Leyna Bloom? Well, to put it lightly, everything.
But there's so much more to know, and why she is someone to watch for. So, here's 8 things to know about the transgender model, Leyna 'Damn' Bloom!
1. Leyna Bloom is no stranger to being the first in many categories:
As we know, the model and actress will be the first transgender woman of color to grace the pages of Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit issue, but Bloom, who's both Black and Filipina, is no stranger to firsts. In fact, she does this shit regularly, as in 2017, she became the first trans woman of color to be featured in Vogue India, and in 2019, she became the first to star in a film that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival for her appearance in Port Authority, her first feature film.
Additionally, sis is the first openly trans woman of color to walk the Paris Fashion Week runway, oh, and she is also one of the few Black transgender women to have signed with a talent agency.
Of her groundbreaking career, she says:
"These are huge moments. But it's just like, why has it taken so long?"
2. Speaking of 'Port Authority', the actress relates to, and found her own happiness in the role:
As Leyna puts it, Port Authority is about "being young and not knowing it all, but still choosing to be yourself and fighting for your own happiness," something she can relate to all too well.
The film follows Paul, a 20-year-old who stumbles his way into the queer ballroom scene, where he meets Bloom's character Wye. She's a sweet yet resilient young woman, who serves as the house mother for her ball family. And despite the many objections from their respective chosen families, Paul and Wye fall in love, and the rest is ballroom, interracial history.
"I know I live in a world where I need to fight for myself every second, but in that fight I also need to find happiness. I need to find love, and family, and my crew of people. And that's what this film is about. A lot of the interview questions I've been getting are framed as a white boy dating a Black girl ... and my answer is that it's love. Love comes in all different colors, across all races. I'm a product of interracial dating, and for me, the most important thing about that is the love between two people."
3. Bloom's dad was her biggest supporter during her transition:
From an early age, Leyna always knew she was a woman.
"I just by nature, gravitated toward more feminine objects. My father first noticed that and it kind of scared him but her thought it was a phase that I would grow out of, but I never grew out of it. My dad, when I was young, he was the first person who bought me my first Barbie doll."
And from there, he was always by her side.
"When it was the right age for me to take the next step, me and my father made the right steps. He paid for the doctor visits, the hormones. He wanted to make sure that he had a happy, healthy child."
4. She received a dance scholarship, which forced her back to being someone she no longer identified with:
Bloom received a scholarship for a men's dance program, which forced her to present herself as one.
"After my academics, I would go into the dance classes and I would have to be a boy for my scholarship. I had to cut my hair off, I had to throw away all my 'girl clothes' for this opportunity. And I didn't want to be dancing with another woman, I wanted to be that woman. And I said, 'you know what, enough is enough. I can't live like this.' I immediately dropped out of the school and that summer, I moved to New York City and I started my life."
5. Trans empowerment is WTF she does, and she's unapologetic about it:
When asked what advice she would give her 16-year-old self, the actress tells Bustle:
"Take your hormones, and don't stop until you feel complete."
And because Leyna has spent most of her life arriving to this place of acceptance of self, she is no rookie when it comes to profound advice. And quite frankly, she's over being labeled as a byproduct, simply because she's trans. When asked what her proudest moment as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and how she plans to celebrate Pride, she adds:
"[My proudest moment is] not giving up on myself every step of the way. I will be getting up every day, and living my truth 24/7, but not just because Pride said so. It just comes with the territory since the day I was born."
6. Leyna is more than OK with being a pioneer of trans community:
Leyna may be busy with starring in a few major projects such as the final season of the hit FX series Pose or the upcoming film Asking for It (which is scheduled to make its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival this month), but when asked what projects she's working on, she addresses none of the above and instead pivots her response to a much bigger meaning:
"I'm promoting positive mental health, and following whatever you want in this world. That's the most important thing to me — and being myself with whatever I'm doing."
"Trans people are not used to having moments like this. We're not used to being celebrated. We're not used to having the world say, 'Oh, my God, this is huge.' You know? It's kind of like you have to be pinched, in, like, 'Oh, this is really happening.'
"When you accept us, you accept yourself."
7. She also wants to make a rap album:
In fact, her dream is to collaborate with another trans actress taking over Hollywood. She reveals:
"I would love to do a rap album with Vachensky Vieux. We played sisters in the same house on 'Pose'."
Pose aired its season finale earlier this month, after three seasons of LGBTQ+ storytelling.
8. And finally, where does she see herself in 20 years? Nothing like her life is today.
When asked where she sees herself in the future, her response was simple, yet to the point:
"Being the principal of a high school."
A career pivot that comes full circle. We see the vision, sis!
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Featured image via Leyna Bloom/Instagram