V Girls: Leyna Bloom Queen of Cannes

Bloom’s stardom didn’t come easy.

In Port Authority, protagonist Paul arrives in New York from the Midwest and is immediately captivated by a young voguer in the street named Wye, played by Leyna Bloom. “She’s a super humble girl,” says Bloom. “She works at a coffee shop, and she does ballroom by night. She knows where she belongs in the world, and she just wants people to come together and be happy. She wants everyone to feel connected, and I love that.”

An established but underground-by-nature dance circuit catering to trans and queer people of color, the voguing scene is in the midst of a pop-cultural boon, with creators like Ryan Murphy adapting it for his glossy FX series Pose. Then in May, Bloom, who like Wye is a member of New York ball culture, became the first trans woman of color to lead a film at Cannes—a platform she used to channel her community-oriented roots. “I took every woman who is trans with me to Cannes,” Bloom says.

Port Authority’s first-time director Danielle Lessovitz made sure to involve prominent members of the New York “kiki”—a youth-centric offspring of ballroom. “This is Leyna’s first feature, and the same is true of anyone in the kiki scenes,” says casting director Damian Bao.

Trained as a ballerina, Bloom was performing on the American Ballet Theatre stage by 14. She played the Scarecrow in a production of The Wiz at the South Shore Cultural Center in her hometown of Chicago, and has been modeling since she moved to New York, walking for Tommy Hilfiger in Paris and for Chromat.

As graceful as she is, gliding from runway to stage to screen, Bloom says starring in a Cannes-worthy film (produced by Martin Scorsese no less) didn’t come without a fight. Though now on the precipice of stardom, she says her journey included a period in which she teetered on homelessness—an experience she credits with keeping her grounded. Back on her feet and then some, Bloom hopes to chassé through the industry’s many-layered glass ceilings.

“There’s nothing that can limit me now; I want to be a Bond Girl. I want to go to the audition to be Cleopatra,” she says. “I want to work with filmmakers who take risks. I think we’re in a time where we can do that: take where we’re at right now and really make it explode… All over the world.”

Leyna wears top, pants, belt Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello, bra DKNY
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