6 Remarkable Photos of History-Making SI Swim Model Leyna Bloom in Dominica

The 2021 cover girl has posed for the brand three years in a row.
Leyna Bloom was photographed by Amanda Pratt in Dominica.
Leyna Bloom was photographed by Amanda Pratt in Dominica. / Amanda Pratt/Sports Illustrated

SI Swimsuit legend Leyna Bloom made history with the brand as a rookie in 2021. She traveled to Tampa, Fla., and posed for photographer Yu Tsai, landing the cover of that year’s issue and becoming the first transgender model to grace the front of the iconic magazine.

The actress and activist has returned to the fold each year since, stunning on the beaches of Belize in ’22 and taking our breath away with her magnificent photo shoot in the Caribbean island of Dominica last year. The Illinois native, who is of Filipino and African-American descent, celebrated her birthday yesterday, April 25, and in honor of the special day, we’re taking a look back at her time as part of the SI Swimsuit family.

At the time of her cover, Bloom recalled her first meeting with SI Swimsuit editor in chief MJ Day, and what a memorable, empowering and profound conversation they had.

“We spoke for about two hours but we didn’t talk about the magazine. We talked about space, motherhood, the power of bodies, activism, issues within our bodies that we’ve grown to appreciate and accept. It wasn’t the cliché conversation of ‘make sure you diet.’ It was real and human, totally not what I was expecting, but more than I could have dreamed,” Bloom said. “MJ is truly an angel; she represents love, light, and inspiration. She isn’t just looking for a perfect model. She wants people from different backgrounds with different stories to tell, of all sizes, shapes, and from all walks of life. She embraced me and embraced each girl who dared to share their story, put on a swimsuit, and say ‘I am beautiful.’” 

Bloom, also a dancer and professionally trained hairstylist, is used to making waves in the industry. In 2019, she was the only transgender model of color to walk the runway at Paris Fashion Week. She also starred in Danielle Lessovitz’s Port Authority, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival that year as the first entry to cast a transgender woman of color in a leading role

Below are six phenomenal photos from Bloom’s most recent SI Swimsuit photo shoot in Dominica with photographer Amanda Pratt.

Leyna Bloom
Leyna Bloom was photographed by Amanda Pratt in Dominica. Swimsuit by Norma Kamali. / Amanda Pratt/Sports Illustrated
Leyna Bloom
Leyna Bloom was photographed by Amanda Pratt in Dominica. Swimsuit by Now_Then Label. Necklace by Alexis Bittar. / Amanda Pratt/Sports Illustrated
Leyna Bloom
Leyna Bloom was photographed by Amanda Pratt in Dominica. Swimsuit by Norma Kamali. Earrings by Alexis Bittar. / Amanda Pratt/Sports Illustrated
Leyna Bloom
Leyna Bloom was photographed by Amanda Pratt in Dominica. Swimsuit by SAME. Earrings by Eklexic Jewelry. / Amanda Pratt/Sports Illustrated
Leyna Bloom
Leyna Bloom was photographed by Amanda Pratt in Dominica. Swimsuit by Ema Savahl Couture. Bracelet by Alexis Bittar. / Amanda Pratt/Sports Illustrated
Leyna Bloom
Leyna Bloom was photographed by Amanda Pratt in Dominica. Top by Ema Savahl Couture. / Amanda Pratt/Sports Illustrated

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Ananya Panchal

ANANYA PANCHAL