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Film / TVRaceSex & Gender

leyna bloom makes trans history at cannes film fest

April 19, 2019
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Leyna Bloom walked Balls in Chicago at 16, moved to New York at 17, working her way up to tearing down the runways of Chromat and gracing the cover of Vogue India. Bloom’s journey as half-Black, half-Filipino transgender women surpasses inspiring, verging on pure poetry, as she becomes the first Trans women of color to star in a film premiering at Cannes Film Festival as a part of its Un Certain Regard competition according to Out Magazine. Cannes has never had a trans-WOC starring in a film, in the festivals 72-year history. Port Authority is a love story set in the very ball culture that propelled Bloom from ballrooms of Chicago.

Bloom’s arresting persona captured parts of the fashion industry not residing in the sunken place, and her meteoric rise speaks to the vision for her career that she never let falter. “I’ve done some acting projects here and there for practice but nothing too serious,” Bloom said of her transition from modeling to acting. “Ever since I was a young kid I always wanted to be an actress and have a respectable role that would be respected by the whole entertainment industry but I didn’t see any trans women of color in media or in TV.”

Port Authority is being produced by Martin Scorsese’s Sikelia productions reports Deadline. It will serve as writer-director Danielle Lessovitz’s debut feature as a part of an initiative to support emerging filmmakers. Lessovitz has already shown promise with the hiring of performers who are a part of New York’s kiki ballroom scene. Wye, a member of the kiki scene and cast member in the movie, told Out, “It was important to Danielle, Kate, and me very early on that we put money back in the community if we were going to do this project.” Having a transgender lead as well as authentic ballroom representation in a Cannes film isn’t an acknowledgment of under-appreciated talent but confirmation of the undeniable cultural influence of ballroom and its community. That being said, this moment is nothing but groundbreaking for ballroom and Leyna.

“For me this is really like that Halle Berry moment when she won that Oscar for Monster’s Ball — I know that it’s a moment that should have happened a long time ago,” Bloom told Out. “When I first heard that we were premiering at Cannes, I really had to think about all of the women that paved the way that should have also gone, all the women who could have been in a movie and could have played a role like this.” People like Carmen Xtravaganza, Tanay Pendavis, Onjenae Milan, Octavia Saint Laurent and Venus Xtravaganza, all of whom Bloom claims as inspirations. Now we can look forward to Leyna making the list of the next trans woman of color to break barriers. It’s what she deserves.