Leyna Bloom is in the zone. Fresh off her role as Pretentia Khan in the hit television series Pose, to making history as the first trans woman of color to lead a movie, Port Authority, at Cannes Film Festival, to taking center stage in a Levi’s campaign and video, the model, actress, and activist is working on more projects than one can count.
Bloom is also staking her claim in the beauty industry by partnering with iconic hair care brand John Frieda for Pride Month and the education organization GLSEN for its “Tie Up Your Hair. Not Your Identity” campaign. “I think it's important that brands really align themselves with people in the community,” Bloom tells TZR over Zoom. “I've been working in the fashion and entertainment industries for a while now and the idea that I'm being recognized by a huge, pioneering brand like John Frieda is truly powerful for me. Opportunities like this haven’t really happened for a lot of trans women, especially trans women of color. So this is the opportunity to be a part of something major and GLSEN represents something that's really dear to my heart. Having all three of us together to talk about something so important, like Pride, care, identity and the language around queerness in today's society is incredible.”
While her successes and Pride month are reasons to celebrate, Bloom is focused on taking care of her mental health right now, after almost a year and a half of chaos and uncertainty. “The world is in a very unbalanced state, as we’re in a pandemic and there’s just so much stuff going on. I’m very much thinking about how I can take some time to sit with myself, check in on how I’m doing, and make sure my mental health is good because one minute we're all happy and we're celebrating something beautiful and then the next minute, trans people can’t even be on sports teams. I just honestly have to keep positive and make sure my mental health is in order and make sure that the people that I'm working with have the right knowledge. It’s important to be patient with yourself and love yourself through that process.”
Bloom shares that while there are reasons to celebrate progress and the “firsts” in terms of achievements, that these distinctions can be both a gift and a burden for those who are breaking ground. “Even with everything that's happening in my life, making historical moment after historical moment, it's powerful, it’s beautiful, and I'm happy, but it just takes a toll on you because you're automatically in a different realm of your humanity,” she says. “You have to really learn how to adjust to it, because you can never go back.” Bloom ultimately wants to spread the opportunities and power around. “I want enough so everyone can eat and I want to share it with everyone,” she says. “It is hard being the first, but I just had to do it. I’ve got to show up for myself and show up for my community.”
Below, Bloom talks about how she stays grounded, what it was like working on Pose, and the beauty products that renew her.
You’ve partnered with some amazing brands. How do you choose which you want to align yourself with?
It’s all about aligning myself with brands that really see me and understand how I exist in different spaces. A lot of brands right now understand that the world is changing and it's important to make sure they represent what is going on in the world. I always ask, what are they doing to make an impact and how will I be relevant throughout the whole process? How is this partnership going to be impactful for not just the present, but also in times to come? It’s important for me because I am the first to do a lot of these partnerships. GLSEN reminds me so much of programs that I wish I was a part of because there was one summer program when I was growing up in Chicago that was really making sure students had safe zones and that people are familiar with pronouns and the importance of individuality.
What was it like working on a groundbreaking series like Pose?
The most important thing for me was that I got to work with my colleagues who come from my community. We were there to represent, to show up, and support each other. We know the world doesn't always support us and doesn’t really look out for us in a lot of ways, but we wanted to show up and be seen for one another. The show introduced a new type of language for a lot of people because we have not been invited or written into stories that involve our rich history and our rich culture.
We often just cried because there was this rotation of love being passed on from person to person within our community. We were all kind of catching up. For me to be on Pose, I felt like I was doing my part, showing up for my community, and putting on a good show. Any person that sees this may not be familiar with my lifestyle or my community, but the show gives them a beautiful picture of how it looks to be a part of my community.
Do you have a beauty ethos that you live by?
“Less is more for me. When I'm creating content and showing people who I am, I want to make sure that I’m really showing the raw nature of it all. We’re in a time when everything is so sensationalized and fetishized. There are so many filters to help hide yourself. I want to make sure that I stay true to the directness of my essence. So that usually means I’m in a pair of blue jeans and a tee shirt with very light makeup on or just mascara.
I just want to be a breath of fresh air. Everything I do has to in a sense have some type of artistic design to it. My clothes, comfort, and the colors I wear all have some type of emotion in them. It’s not about doing something quick for me. I want to have a true, conscious understanding of the visuals and the energy I’m putting out, so my content always has some type of emotional depth.”
You talked about taking care of your mental health earlier. Are there any rituals you’ve embraced to help you do that?
“I get the most mental freedom and liberation when everything's turned off and there's a nice, cool breeze coming through my windows. When I’m fresh out of the shower and my body's covered from head to toe in coconut oil. I love enjoying those little moments, resting, and making sure I get a good night's sleep. Ice cold water gives me a lot of happiness. Those are my check-in moments, when I can love being who I am and celebrate the moments that have come. I might play some Sade and just lay on clean white sheets that have been freshly washed. Those little moments of serenity before I have to deal with everything else are so powerful. Even going to take a cat nap really saves me a lot of mental stress. Right now I'm about to go for a run and I'm just going to focus on myself, breathing, and loving my body. I've also been watching a lot of karate movies lately with Bruce Lee and it's crazy how focusing our body and our minds on one thing can really change our perceptions and everything around us. We’re often so caught up in other people's lives and everything that's going around us that we forget ourselves. I think the pandemic allowed us to put things in perspective, be conscious, and really evaluate what's real and what's not.”
Feeling good and celebrating her natural beauty are paramount for Bloom. Here are a few of the products that help her do that:
We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.