Being true to yourself is a mantra that most of us can get behind, and it’s one that Leiomy Maldonado has chosen to live by. The professional choreographer, whose love of dance not only helped her discover her true self but provided a valuable outlet to express her emotions, has become the first transwoman to front Nike’s #BETRUE campaign, which celebrates and supports the LGBTQ community and Pride Month.
New York-based Maldonado is one of the most well respected figures in the voguing community. A dance style that evolved from the Harlem ball culture of the 1960s, she was introduced to the art form as a teenager by a mentor at her local Boys & Girls Club. Mimicking what she saw in archive footage, Maldonado was soon competing against the dancers she grew up watching. But it was while taking part in the TV series America’s Best Dance Crew, the first transwoman to do so, that she rose to prominence.
Now choreographing routines for some of today’s most high profile music stars and travelling internationally to teach her craft, Maldonado still finds time to give back. As well as working for the Dominican Women’s Development Center, a non-profit organization in New York’s Washington Heights, and offering free dance classes to women less fortunate, she finds time to promote unity and equality, her impactful message perfectly embodied in the video for the #BETRUE campaign: