Metro Weekly

Leyna Bloom is ready for her closeup with trans romantic drama “Port Authority”

Bloom has a starring role in the acclaimed romantic drama

port authority
Port Authority

New York City’s Port Authority bus station is an unlikely place to meet the love who might change your life. But love, like a rose in concrete, can take root in the most unlikely places. So it is that Wye, a trans woman of color, and Paul, a white kid fresh off a bus from Pennsylvania, first lay eyes on each other in Danielle Lessovitz’s stirring romantic drama Port Authority.

Paul, played by Dunkirk‘s Fionn Whitehead, arrives in search of family who isn’t there to greet him. He spots Wye, portrayed by Pose actress Leyna Bloom, among her chosen family, voguing and kiki-ing on the steps outside the station. After an instant, silent spark, a while passes before their paths cross again, and their path together will be complicated by sometimes violent interference — but for both, the journey may prove worthwhile.

“I think the movie is about two people trying to connect with each other in a way that’s new and fresh and beautiful and organic and real and raw. And they’re not choosing to let anyone hold them back,” says Bloom, who made history with Port Authority in its world premiere at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, marking the first time a feature starring a trans woman of color had debuted at the festival.

The film, executive produced by Martin Scorsese, also marks the feature directing debut for Lessovitz, who cast Bloom, a successful model who’d never starred in a film, in a role that mirrors aspects of Bloom’s own experience as a respected member of the house and ballroom community. Although both actress and director were entering unfamiliar territory, they were in sync “from the get go,” Bloom recalls.

“We really blueprinted our connection on trying to figure out where are we right now with humanity, and where are we going and how can we tell a story about love through intersections of different places and people that aren’t normally seen in society or in entertainment spaces. So it was kind of a beautiful seed that we had to water, both of us. And it grew into a beautiful project. And she wanted to make sure that I had a voice on this project, and I was telling this story as authentically as much as I can, because I do come from the ballroom scene and I am a trans woman, and that’s what the role is looking for. We wanted to make sure that we were doing this the right way and not fetishizing or sexualizing, or having this horrible gaze on these beautiful things that we’re doing.”

Port Authority: Leyna Bloom

Following Port Authority‘s high-profile premiere, the film was on its way to lighting up the festival circuit when the global pandemic slowed its roll. But Bloom has not slowed down, taking on her part in Pose as a member of the ruthless House of Khan, and taking her modeling career to new heights with her next milestone, appearing in Sports Illustrated‘s legendary swimsuit issue, hitting newsstands in July. And she’s thrilled that the love story of Wye and Paul finally will find its audience.

“I feel like when the movie was just announced, before even premiering at the Cannes Festival, people were craving something like this — they were craving this film,” says the actress. “It made history in 2019. And we really showed up, and set the bar so high with this film about love. Then months later, we’re in a pandemic and the film is on this festival tour and everything is going amazing. And, you know, I’m just lucky that we picked it up where we left off — not just with my film, but other projects that I worked on, other projects that other people are working on, and just the world at hand.

“We’re in a time right now when we can finally get back to celebrating the things that we miss and the things that we left off at, so I think it’s just a blessing that we’re getting a second chance — everyone, not just this film, but everyone should get a second chance to do things differently, and treat things differently.”

Port Authority releases on Friday, May 28 in select theaters, and on VOD and Digital Tuesday, June 1.

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