This is another positive story showing that we will not cower under pressure and persecution from political conservatives. We are artists, economic successes and intellectual forces. Stories like the one following state to the world, that we will and can flourish.
By AMY KAUFMAN MAY 19, 2019
Leyna Bloom turned up at the Port Authority bus terminal at 17 with one red suitcase and nowhere to put it. She’d saved up a little money working part time at McDonald’s and Starbucks on the South Side of Chicago, the place she’d left behind 22 hours before. But it wasn’t enough to pay rent, so she spent her first few weeks sleeping on the train, traveling between SoHo and Chelsea and Alphabet City, surviving on $1 slices of pizza.
She’d come to New York City in the hopes of being discovered. She felt she needed to take her life into her own hands after dropping out of the Chicago Academy for the Arts months earlier. When she was granted a scholarship to the prestigious dance program in her sophomore year, she’d already transitioned. But the school would recognize only the gender she was assigned at birth. She wanted to be a dancer, and feared this could be her only shot. So she shaved off all of her hair, bought boy’s clothing and started presenting as a male.
“I slowly started to fall into pressure, but I wasn’t living my most authentic self,” Bloom, now 25, recalled. “I was living my life for people saying, ‘You are a boy.’ I was like, ‘I don’t fit this.’ I’m gonna do pas de deux as the male? I’m the woman, I’m the soloist, I’m the princess! Life is too short to be someone who someone else wants me to be. I don’t want to be stashed away. I want to be living out loud and proud.”
Life is too short to be someone who someone else wants me to be. Leyna Bloom
So when the academy refused to allow her to dance as a female — or even transfer departments to, say, musical theater — she decided to head to the Big Apple. She trusted, she said, that “the universe will never put you in a position you can’t handle,” and she was right.
Slowly, in between waiting tables, she started to gain traction as a model. In 2017, she appeared on the cover of Vogue India — the first transgender woman to do so. She landed an international advertising campaign for H&M and Moschino. She strutted on the runway for Tommy Hilfiger during Paris Fashion Week.
And on Saturday, she became the first transgender actress of color to star in a movie at the Cannes Film Festival. The film, Danielle Lessovitz’s “Port Authority,” bears eerie resemblance to Bloom’s own life. Produced by Martin Scorsese, it follows a young Pittsburgh transplant (“Dunkirk’s” Fionn Whitehead) who turns up at the bus station with nowhere to stay. He soon crosses paths with Wye (Bloom), a fixture on the Kiki ballroom scene, and starts to fall for her. But when he realizes she’s transgender, he becomes unsure of whether he wants to continue their romance.
... walking the red carpet at Cannes, where she said numerous high-profile designers offered to dress her. She ultimately went with a mirrored silver gown by Alberta Ferretti that she felt evoked her black royalty —- the goddesses of Egypt, Nefertiti, Cleopatra — because she wanted to depict a trans woman as a “princess or a queen — a beautiful, ethereal creature to be revered.”
“Did you hear they’re making a movie about Cleopatra? I want to play that character,” she said. “I want to keep having those historical moments. I want to be a Bond girl. I want to be in the ‘X-Men.’ I want to do things that have never been done before.”
|Bloom poses in the Dior Suite in the Majestic Hotel during Cannes. (Stephanie Cornfield / For The Times)
Read the whole article: How Leyna Bloom became the first transgender actress of color to star in a film at Cannes