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Trans Star Leiomy Maldonado Personifies Beauty in New Campaign

Photographed by Quil Lemons for Black Opal

The ballroom fixture is the new star of Black Opal Beauty.

Leiomy Maldonado is known for her activism, dancing, and legendary status in the ballroom scene. Now she can add "model" to her impressive C.V. -- the Bronx native is the new lead model for Black Opal Beauty's new campaign.

Maldonado -- familiar to those outside the ballroom scene for her stint on MTV's America's Best Dance Crew, her position as judge on HBO Max's Legendary, and a role on FX's Pose -- is Black Opal's first transgender model. Launched 25 years ago, Black Opal offers affordable cosmetics and beauty products for those with darker skin.

"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 recently 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."

Maldonado was photographed by gender-bending Black photographer Quil Lemons, also known as his glam alter-ego, Glitterboy.

Black Opal is owned by Desiree Rogers, a former cosmetics CEO and the social secretary under President Obama, and Cheryl Mayberry McKissack, the one-time CEO of Ebony Media, the publisher of iconic Black-centered publications like Ebony and Jet.

Trans models are increasingly booking mainstream work, including Teddy Quinlivan and Valentina Sampaio, but Maldonado told The Cut she wants to see more progress:

"[Beauty brands] 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."


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