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This Trans Puerto Rican Voguing Master Is So Iconic That Even Beyonce Imitated Her Dance Moves

@wond3rwoman1 / Instagram

Leiomy Maldonado has been on the Voguing/Ballroom scene for a while and she is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in that world. Her moves have inspired the choreography of some of music’s biggest stars, including Beyoncé. Yet, she didn’t join the scene to make it big. This trans puertorriqueña from the Bronx found an escape and stress reliever in dance. It was later in her career that she realized that it was what she was called to do. Maldonado spoke to mitú about dance, life, and inspiring major music stars.

Leiomy Maldonado is a dance icon but it wasn’t always that way.


Maldonado was first introduced to voguing when she was only about 14 or 15 years old. She was at the Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx when a chance encounter with a stranger introduced her, via VHS, to the world of voguing.

Maldonado admits that she was immediately fascinated by voguing and wanted to know more. Before she knew it, it became her stress reliever.


“From the beginning, I really didn’t think that I’d be making a career or that I would have grown this passionate about dance,” Maldonado told mitú. “For me, in the beginning, I just fell in love with that style and me going through the transition in my life, I didn’t know how to express that and I used voguing to do that. With using voguing as a stress reliever, I fell in love with the style and fell in love with just the dance overall and from there, people started seeing me and people started telling me that I was going to be something and that I had something special.”

Maldonado said that she always felt supported by her family in her dance career.

My Dad ^__^

A post shared by Leiomy Maldonado (@wond3rwoman1) on


“They [my family] always did [support my ambitions]. For me, I’ve always been the person to go for what I like and what I believe in and things like that,” Maldonado told mitú. “I didn’t really rely on support from my family even though they were supportive. It was just something that I was like, “This is what I’m going to do and I really don’t care who has anything to say about it or who thinks anything about whatever. I’m just doing it because I want to.’”

But it wasn’t until “America’s Best Dance Crew” that Maldonado’s family truly understood what their daughter meant by transitioning and pursuing a serious career in dance.

“It wasn’t until I was on “America’s Best Dance Crew” that they kind of started to understand more because I was able to express myself through TV and explain a little bit of my story and they were able to see that themselves and see why I wasn’t around,” Maldonado told mitú about a moment she realized dance was what she was supposed to be doing. “After that, they understood my career; they understood the woman that I’ve always been and that I’ve grown into. You know, just being confident.”

Maldonado also said it helped her family learn about her transition. “When I began my transition, my family didn’t quite understand what it was because, back then, people weren’t really educated on what being trans was. You either were gay or a lesbian. Like, if you were born a male and showed signs for femininity they would just automatically label you as being gay.” She continued saying, “It wasn’t until I was on “America’s Best Dance Crew” that they kind of started to understand more because I was able to express myself through TV and explain a little bit of my story and they were able to see that themselves and see why I wasn’t around. After that, they understood my career; they understood the woman that I’ve always been and that I’ve grown into. You know, just being confident.”

As her dance career grew, so did the number of people imitating her style until it reached peak mainstream culture a la Beyoncé.

Have a beautiful and blessed day everyone ???

A post shared by Leiomy Maldonado (@wond3rwoman1) on


At first, Maldonado says that she was excited and a little flattered that big stars were using her dance moves but after a while, she realized that people weren’t giving her any credit and only people who knew her knew that she created the moves.

So, she did what any dance icon does (not really). She started her own ballroom house, The House Of Amazon.

The House of Amazon is not about walking balls and being “fab”. I created my house to help my kids grown individually in…

Posted by Leiomy Maldonado on Tuesday, February 23, 2016


“I’ve been a part of a few houses. Actually last year, I introduced my house, which was the house that I opened, the House of Amazon, I introduced to the ballroom scene. We’ve been open for about two years now,” Maldonado told mitú. “Houses are like families so that all depends on what kind of people you want to be around. Every family has their own style their own kind of surroundings or people who they deal with or things that they do and it all depends.”

If there is anything Maldonado would tell other LGBTQ Latinx about thriving it’s to build confidence in who you are.

Feeling myself after class tonight ^__^

A post shared by Leiomy Maldonado (@wond3rwoman1) on


“I would like to share that I was an underdog in the beginning. I feel like it took a lot of struggles and things for me to go through that I went through within the ballroom for me to become as strong and confident as I am now,” Maldonado tells LGBTQ youths. “I feel like a lot of people look for confidence and they look for acceptance in other people but they don’t accept themselves yet and I feel like that’s very important. You have to love yourself and accept yourself before you can grow and be part of other people.”


READ: After Trump’s Anti-Trans Order, Carmen Carrera Has Some Words For Him

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She Started Her Own Mexican-Inspired Makeup Line But Regrets She Didn't Quit Her Day Job Sooner

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She Started Her Own Mexican-Inspired Makeup Line But Regrets She Didn’t Quit Her Day Job Sooner

@reinarebelde / Instagram

Regina Merson put herself through law school and had a stable job as a bankruptcy attorney in Dallas, Texas. Yet, during her time as an attorney, Merson felt unfulfilled and decided to look elsewhere for her career satisfaction. Merson then decided that she wanted something more creative and cultural so she started her own makeup line called Reina Rebelde. Merson talked to mitú and told us about her decision to abruptly change course and start a very different career.

Regina Merson is an immigrant, Latina entrepreneur who risked a lot to chase a dream.


Merson was a bankruptcy attorney for 6 years in Dallas, Texas but she was never really fulfilled in her career. After a lot of thought, and a round of lay-offs at her law firm, Merson decided to chase her dream of creating a culturally relevant and distinguishable makeup line.

While her law career was something she wanted, she was never fulfilled creatively and she realized it was something that mattered to her.


“After years of soul searching, I realized that what I really wanted was something that was intellectually challenging and creative, and it was that creative piece that was not being fulfilled by my legal career,” Merson told mitú. “Makeup had always been a constant theme in my life. It was something I always felt a personal passion for, and I realized that my love of makeup would be the catalyst to help feed my creative side. Yet, making sure I connected with my roots and did something to participate and contribute positively to my community of fellow Latinas and my native country of Mexico was very important to me.”

Merson was also determined to showcase her Mexican heritage in all aspects of her product.


“Every aspect of Reina Rebelde is designed and inspired by my Mexican heritage as well as the essence of this unique Latina woman and the many dualities we have in our lives,” Merson explained to mitú. “From the packaging, which features butterflies and skulls —Mexican symbols for the spiritual transformation that we undergo in our lifecycle, to the interior of the box with the vibrant red and pink Mexican roses that speak to our inherent love of life, color, and our own cultural and personal vibrancy. To our “chica,” who was designed by a talented tattoo artist in East Los Angeles, and she is meant to be a pictorial representation of our customer.”

“We want our Reinas Rebeldes to see a reflection of themselves physically as well as spiritually in our Chica,” Merson told mitú.


Merson says that she worked diligently to make sure that her culture permeates all aspects of her brand from the packaging to the colors to the images and even the names. You can find colors named “Oaxaca,” “La Doña,” and “Brava.”

Now that Merson has made the change in career, she does wish she would have jumped sooner.


Merson told mitú that she got conflicted advice for different people who thought it was either too out there or that she should just jump right into it. As an immigrant, she was hesitant to push her luck and leave a comfortable job for an overly-saturated market she knew very little about.

“At some point in the process, I realized that Reina Rebelde was not just a business idea (I had many of those), it was something that went much deeper for me,” Merson explained to mitú. “The concept made me feel so alive and passionate, and the more I worked on it, the more it took over my life in the form of constant ah-ha moments. It literally haunted me for a couple of years in the form of daydreams and night dreams. It was always at the forefront of my mind and present in everything I did.  And yet I didn’t take the plunge sooner. What I learned that was most valuable was to listen to my intuition — that is exactly what was operating in full force telling me to make this big life move.”

Her advice to other Latina entrepreneurs looking to break out: find your own path.


Merson admits that she tried things her own way and ignored some advice that led to some painful lessons but she also said that some of the advice that she did follow didn’t work out. The best advice she has for other Latinas blazing their own career paths is to do what makes sense to you and don’t fell like you need to follow someone else’s examples to achieve the success you want.

But, above all else, Merson understands that the more important thing to do is to feel passionate and excited about whatever you are choosing to do.


“I feel so privileged and proud to be Mexican, and to be rooted in this amazing heritage and culture. My love affair with my culture and my homeland continues to get richer and more profound with time and experience,” Merson told mitú. “I credit this pride with giving me the passion to get this business going — which is just to say, whether it is your relationship with your culture or something else, make sure you feel tremendous passion for whatever you do — it’s an energy that mobilizes and sustains you in ways that nothing else can!”


READ: This Is How This Mexican Mom From Oaxaca Is Running Successful Mole And Michelada Businesses

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