Victoria’s Secret ‘hires first transgender model’ – Valentina Sampaio and 4 others making an impact

Victoria’s Secret ‘hires first transgender model’ – Valentina Sampaio and 4 others making an impact

It’s been a long time coming – in a much needed move for industry and company, Victoria’s Secret have selected their first transgender model.

Matters came to a head in November when chief marketing officer Ed Razek prompted a storm of criticism by saying he wouldn’t hire transgender models for the annual fashion show. Leading the condemnation were a host of transgender models, and former VS superstar Karlie Kloss.

Now, Valentina Sampaio is rumoured to have become what we hope will be the first of many. Here’s what you need to know about her and a few other inspiring trans models blazing a trail for those to come…

Valentina Sampaio

Not to be confused with current Victoria’s Secret Angel Sara Sampaio, Victoria’s Secret’s newest employee has made a habit of breaking new ground, and last year she was the first openly transgender woman to feature on the cover of Vogue Paris.

The Brazilian up-and-comer became a L’Oreal brand ambassador in 2016, and at only 22 years old the sky is very much the limit.

Victoria’s Secret model Lais Ribeiro, tweeted: “First transgender [person] to shoot with VS! This makes me so happy!”

Carmen Carrera

Now a veteran of the industry, the 34-year-old model and former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant has been walking the walk for eight years, and has campaigned constantly for trans rights and visibility.

Last year she strutted her stuff on the groundbreaking Marco Marco runway at New York Fashion Week – the first ever show to solely feature transgender models – while high profile shoots include a spread in W by Steven Meisel.

In 2013 she was the subject of a viral petition demanding she model at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which was rejected despite 45,000 signatures. So 2019 brings vindication for Carrera, though not, perhaps, exactly in the way she would have liked.

Munroe Bergdorf

Probably the transgender model best known to the UK public – due mostly to a short-lived position with the Labour Party which she quit after “endless attacks on my character” – this eloquent, trailblazing trans woman spends as much time writing columns as she does appearing in spreads.

A cover model for magazines including i-D and Playboy, she’s worked with top brands like Gypsy Sport and Illamasqua, and was briefly the first trans woman to front a campaign for L’Oreal.

Whatever your political opinions, there’ s no questioning that Bergdorf has moved mountains on the modelling scene, and been a powerful voice for trans people of colour.

 Laith Ashley

Something of a polymath, 26-year-old Laith Ashley balances modelling with singing, acting, and generally being an all-around great guy.

Considered one of the first to represent trans male models in the mainstream media, Ashley wears his vulnerability on his sleeve, but dominates the catwalk with a confident, athletic aesthetic.

He says there are complexities around being a poster child for trans-masculinity but he’s already proving an inspiration inside the industry and out.

 Leyna Bloom

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An actress, supermodel, and all-round crossover star with roots in the Harlem ballroom scene, the 25-year-old American already has a resume to rival models ten years her senior.

She came out as transgender with a cover shoot for trans fashion mag C★NDY, and has since starred in a global campaign for H&M. In 2017, she became the first openly trans woman of colour to appear in Vogue India.

Still somehow a star on the rise, her greatest career landmark came in May, with the debut of Martin Scorsese-backed feature film Port Authority at this years Cannes Film Festival. With Bloom in the leading role, it’s the first film in festival history to star a trans women of colour in the leading role.

- Press Association

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