Leyna Bloom is a force of nature in front of the camera and out in the world. The actress, activist and model made her SI Swimsuit debut in 2021, when she posed for photographer Yu Tsai in Tampa, Fla. She landed on the cover of that year’s issue as a rookie, and made history as the first transgender woman to be featured on the front of the magazine.
The Illinois native, who is of Filipino and African-American descent, made waves in the film and modeling industries in 2019, when she was the only transgender model of color to walk the runway at Paris Fashion Week. She also starred in Port Authority, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival as the first-ever entry to cast a trans woman of color in a leading role.
“You’ve got to really take up space. If it’s your moment to shine, even if you got five seconds, take up that space. You don’t know who’s looking at you, who is inspired by you, who is like, ‘I finally found the one that looks like me, that feels like me, that comes from where I come from, and they are doing it,’” Bloom said about serving as representation for future generations. “It’s so beautiful—the fact that we get to meet so many people from different walks of life, young people, older people, all different sizes and shapes and colors and creeds. We’re being exposed to what the future looks like.”
Below are six of our favorite photos from her SI Swimsuit debut in Tampa, Fla.
Now through Nov. 1, 100% of SI Swimsuit’s portion of proceeds from cover prints purchased here will be donated to the Maui Strong Fund, which is helping to support the people and places of Maui affected by the recent wildfires.