Apart from being known as the “Wonder Woman of Vogue,” Leiomy Maldonado does many, many things. The Bronx native is a transgender Afro Puerto Rican dancer, instructor, model, activist, and ballroom dancer. In fact, she’s so legendary that she’s a judge on HBO Max’s Legendary, a voguing competition series that explores ballroom culture. Now, Maldonado is a lead model for Black Opal Beauty’s latest campaign shot by 23-year-old photographer Quil Lemons.
The brand specializes in creating products for people of color with dark skin tones. Their mission: Amplify diversity within the industry and ensure that everyone sees themselves in beauty.
“For over 25 years, Black Opal has created products made specifically for women of color, and today, it is also Black- and female-owned,” Maldonado told the Cut. “There’s an authenticity with this brand and, more specifically, this campaign. It is clear that inclusivity is a core value of the brand which is why I said yes to being their first trans model. During this pivotal time in history for everyone, especially the LGBTQ+ community, I’m thrilled to be representing Black Opal.”
Still, Maldonado notes that there’s more work to be done in terms of representation. “I’d love to see more people like me (from the LGBTQ+ community and people of color) featured in campaigns,” she said. “Not because it’s a trend, but because beauty brands genuinely want to connect with us. They should be representative of their customers, and I think we all deserve options when it comes to products, shades, formulas, etc. It’s time that we were no longer just an afterthought.”