How Trans Model Leyna Bloom Went From Homelessness to the Pages of Vogue

A simple hello from Leyna Bloom is enough to give you a sense of her aura. Her vibrant energy is immediately apparent.

In fact, Bloom effortlessly embodies what you’d imagine of a fashion model. Maybe it’s the way she moves so fluidly in front of the camera that confirms her unspoken star quality, but in watching her instinctive gestures and infinite poses, it’s clear that modeling is simply second nature for her. Beyond her strikingly gorgeous features and her delicately coiled curls is an undeniable sense of self that shines through within seconds of meeting her.

When I first met her a few months ago, I was working on a feature about how women of color should go about finding the right foundation shade for their skin tone. One minute into my conversation with Bloom, an Afro-Filipina woman from Chicago, I knew that beneath her breathtaking face is a shield of strength and passion. Her story represents one grounded in resilience. Swimming through the oversaturated sea of the fashion industry she entered at the age of 18, Bloom is constantly inspiring her 77,000 Instagram followers to unapologetically own every single inch of who they are. All while gracing the glossy pages of magazines, becoming the first openly transgender woman of color to be featured in Vogue India, and walking the runways of New York Fashion Week, Bloom has stayed in tune with spreading the message of diversity and inclusivity.

On a chilly day in New York City this week, Bloom and I met up again. Walking out the sacred doors of Sephora in her leopard-print fur coat, she greets me with a big hug. “I am just so proud of you and all that you’re doing with your writing,” she immediately says to me. Taken aback (I’m usually the one flooding my interviewees with compliments), I’m reminded of the authentic spirit that’s served her so well. Despite the headlines that merely label Bloom as a woman to watch, she’s much more than a “model on the rise.” We all can learn something from her. Keep reading for her unfiltered thoughts on navigating the industry as a transgender model of color, self-love, and finding beauty in your pain.

While we’re talking inclusivity, see what four makeup-loving men have to say about the beauty industry.