Leyna Bloom has changed the world of modeling. She's made headlines as the first transgender woman of color to appear in Vogue India and was one of the first transgender models to walk the runway at New York Fashion Week. The accolades have only continued for the actress, who will appear as a rookie in the 2021 SI Swimsuit Issue next month. We caught up with the 27-year-old to talk about Pride Month, her career goals and her activism.
What does Pride Month mean to you?
"Pride is a moment for the world to look at love in a very unique, beautiful way. Pride is not just about people loving this person of the same sex or anything. I think people are just learning what love is, how different it is for everyone, how special it is for everyone, and how it is a celebration. And it's one of the only months that's catered just to love and loving so many different, beautiful ways."
You've broken many barriers being the first openly transgender model for a lot of brands and publications. How does it feel to be this groundbreaking role model in the industry?
"It feels like a responsibility. It allows me to give justice and give light to my community, and I'm glad that I was birthed in those communities because when I go out in the world, they also shine. It's a powerful thing to know that we are in a time where history is still possible to be made. I think it's a powerful moment. I never imagined growing up, and the name that I have chosen for myself and the body that I have designed of myself will allow me to bring awareness to the idea of someone creating their own life for themselves. It's not what the world said I should be or how I should look, or how I should live my life. It's allowed me to inspire others to love the creation they have created."
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It sounds like you enjoy that responsibility.
"Yes. I think there are people in this world that are born to do certain things or have certain conversations that need to be had. And there are certain trials and tribulations and even beautiful moments they've had in their lives that put them on this journey to have these moments. I knew as a very young child that I had to do something. So this is the lane I've chosen to walk down to make moments that are not just about being beautiful."
Is there something career-wise that's still on your bucket list?
"Yeah, there's a lot. I'm very young, and I'm still trying to just navigate myself as a young, able-bodied person in the world. I don't want to limit myself. I mean, I want to direct, I'm going to write, I want to produce, I want to maybe one day open a modeling agency for people that just are not the traditional beauties. I might also want to be part of some type of educational system, whether it's my own school, a starting school, or a college preparatory, or a school based on art and creativity, and identity. We can also build a new curriculum for the reflection of what the world is like right now. That's important to me: giving back."
What changes do you hope to see more of in the fashion industry?
"Honestly, I think that's a very small-minded question. I think it's obvious. Yes, I've been on covers. But why haven't trans people been on covers? Why are we even talking about it? Let's just normalize it. Let's not even talk about it. Let's just do it."
You have this incredible platform. What message would you want other young transgender people to know?
"I want them to know that they are perfect exactly the way that they are. I want to tell them that if you really say it and you're constantly thinking it, and you believe it, then the world would also see it."