When Leyna Bloom recently became the first trans woman of colour to be featured in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue – and the first trans person ever on its cover – she made the world sit up and take notice. Seeing her posing as confidently as any seasoned model, it might be easy to imagine that she had a smooth journey to where she is today … but the truth is quite different. Here’s everything you need to know about Bloom. Meet Kate Moss’ daughter, Lila Grace Moss-Hack She is Afro-Asian Bloom was born in Chicago to a Filipino mother and an African-American father. “I’m representing Filipina, I’m representing black, I am representing people who have been immigrants,” she told The New York Times. For them, I’m a vessel of change.” She made history before When Bloom was a child, she read fashion magazines and, like millions of others, dreamt of appearing in their pages one day, according to Gay Times . In 2017, she made her dream come true by becoming the first trans woman of colour to appear in Vogue India . Bloom isn’t only lighting up the catwalk, but the big and small screens too. In 2019, she starred in the movie Port Authority that screened at the Cannes Film Festival, becoming the festival’s first leading trans actress of colour. Now she’s in the final season of the hit FX series Pose with “soulmate” Indya Moore . She also appeared in the film Asking For It alongside Kiersey Clemons and Ezra Miller, which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival this year. She aspired to be a strong woman Bloom often found herself drawn to powerful women in video games, comic books and cartoon shows, like Marvel’s Storm, Rouge and Jean Grey, Laura Croft from Tomb Raider and Queen Amidala from Star Wars . And her all-time favourite actress is Natalie Portman in her first movie The Professional and as Leeloo in Fifth Element , she revealed in swimwear brand Chromat’s blog. These female characters inspired her to fight for what she wanted in the real world, and to become a role model for kids to look up to. “Women with a purpose [who] are taking control of their life with intelligence and beauty to fight and help the world, I love that,” she said. Interview: Scarlett Johansson on Black Widow, Marvel’s movie of the summer Her dad is her superhero That’s what Bloom told Good Morning America about her single father, who raised her from when she was two years old after her mother was deported. He always understands and supports her, she told Byrdie , an LA-based beauty lifestyle publication. He bought her first Barbie doll and was by her side at every audition and casting. He also took her to Thailand for her medical transition procedures, paid for everything, and held her hand when she woke up from surgery. She has an artistic family View this post on Instagram A post shared by Leyna Bloom (@leynabloom) Thanks to her artistic roots, Bloom is trained in ballet, lyrical, hip hop, jazz modern, tap and vogue dance styles. Her aunt and cousin are dancers and her great grandmother, Louise, had a dance school at home, according to Chromat’s blog. Seeing her dancing around the house one time, Louise decided that Bloom would be her last student. Later, Bloom took her first formal dance classes in sixth grade and performed on the American Ballet Theatre stage with Misty Copeland at the age of 14. She left school when they wouldn’t recognise her as a woman Bloom received a full dance scholarship to the Chicago Academy for the Arts as a teenager. However, the school only acknowledged the gender that she was assigned at birth. So despite having just started her transition, she shaved her hair and began presenting as male again in order to keep her scholarship. However, not being her “authentic self” made her unhappy and she eventually dropped out, according to News24 . She was homeless in New York for a while Bloom was 17 when she left school in Chicago to head to New York, with no money, possessions or a plan. She slept in the subway and ate one meal a day – a US$1 pizza slice and a soda. “That’s how I survived. On dollar pizzas and a dream,” Bloom told Mic. “It wasn’t homeless to be homeless … I knew that this was what I needed to do to get to where I needed to be. The dream was feeding me when I was starving in my body,” she told Good Morning America . She got chills during her first runway show In 2017, Bloom walked the runway for the Chromat label during New York Fashion Week as one of only a few openly transgender models. She told Mic that the experience gave her chills – not because of nerves, but because of thinking about the other transgender women in fashion who fought for the opportunity. “When I was walking down the runway and at the end when I did that pose, that was for every trans woman who wanted to be in that moment, who worked to be that moment, to be celebrated by all our peers in fashion,” she said. Is Kamala Harris’ stepdaughter Ella Emhoff 2021’s hottest model? She fought to be the first trans Victoria’s Secret Angel Trying to be the 1st Trans model of color walk a #VictoriaSecret Fashion show. #transisbeautiful #LeynaBloom 💕 pic.twitter.com/xkLW5W9YqO — Leyna Bloom (@leynabloom) April 9, 2018 In 2018, Bloom ran a campaign on her Twitter to be cast as the first trans model of colour to walk in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. She caught public attention and support after calling out Victoria’s Secret for its lack of diversity on its catwalks and urged the brand to cast models of all genders and body types in the future. She wants more trans people in education But Bloom doesn’t just want to see more trans people in showbiz. “I would love to see a principal of a school that is trans or an instructor that teaches anatomy that is non-binary,” she told V Magazine . “In order to normalise any type of experience, you have to allow the children of our generation to simply see people from all walks of life. … Just one conversation can have people thinking differently.” Want more stories like this? Sign up here. Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .