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‘Port Authority’ Star Leyna Bloom on Working With Martin Scorsese and Appearing in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue

Leyna Bloom
Courtesy photo

Before publicly revealing she was trans, actress Leyna Bloom was terrified of people finding out about her true identity.

“To be trans and being a person of color and to be Asian, you have to constantly protect yourself, you have to constantly protect your voice because people hear you and they want to attack you,” Bloom says on the latest episode of the “Just for Variety” podcast. “They see how you move, they see your magic [and] they want to hurt you. And I had to protect those nuances about my identity. I knew the world was not ready for me to say, ‘Hey, I’m here, too.’”

But in 2014, she came out as part of a magazine shoot featuring her and other trans women. Five years later, Bloom made history as the first trans woman of color to star in a movie at the Cannes Film Festival. The film, “Port Authority,” is a romantic drama about a romance between a trans woman (Bloom) in the New York City ballroom scene and a straight cisgender man (Fionn Whitehead) who comes to the city trying to run from his troubled past.

“Port Authority” is currently in select theaters and available on demand. Martin Scorsese serves as executive producer. Bloom met the legendary filmmaker on the “Port Authority” set. “He said, ‘We need to have these conversations. These are the kind of stories I want to tell. There are the kind of stories I need to give my name to,’” recalls Bloom, who also appeared in the final season of “Pose.”

And next month, Bloom will make history again as the first trans woman of color to be featured in the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated. “This is how things are now being intersectional with fashion and gender and sexuality and now sports,” Bloom says. “It’s so much going on in sports alone with gender identity and trans women trying to be in sports, but to have a trans woman as a symbol of beauty in swimsuits on a beach in comparison to other icons, like Tyra Banks and Giselle and Heidi Klum, it’s a testament of what’s happening right now in the world and what’s going to happen in the future.

“I think it’s just a powerful time right now. I’m so happy Sports Illustrated wanted to have the nerve to really say, ‘We got to have this moment, and if you don’t like it, you can go somewhere else.’”

Listen to the full interview with Bloom above. You can also find “Just for Variety” at Apple Podcasts, iTunes or wherever you download your favorite podcasts.