Trans Afro-Boricua Vogue Dancer On Signature Hair Flip That Inspired Beyoncé: “I Was Cheated”
Leiomy Maldonado owns the dance floor. Since breaking into New York’s queer ballroom scene at the age of 15, the “Wonder Woman of Vogue” has earned her stripes as one of the best to ever do it by captivating audiences beyond her native streets.
The Afro-Boricua is no stranger to music video sets or tour stops, having been recruited by the likes of FKA Twigs to Willow Smith. She’s also not new to making history as the first-ever trans woman to appear on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew. Yet, her influence is most seen through her “Leiomy Lolly” hair flip, adopted by some of the industry’s biggest names, including Beyoncé.
While landing on Queen Bey’s radar is a mega deal for many, the proud choreographer believes she never got her proper due. “I can tell you that maybe five or six years ago, I thought it was amazing. I was so excited about it, that people were seeing and using what I started and created,” she told Latina. “However, as the years went by, I realized I was cheated. Although many knew where the moves came from, the people who were doing it weren’t giving me credit.”
Noting that it was never about the money, Maldonado reiterates the importance of respecting the work of creatives through sheer recognition. “I still feel honored. I mean, who wouldn’t? Something that I created on my own has become world-known. But, after that, I’m more determined to work harder for people to see me and see what I can bring to the world as a dancer,” she explained. “So many dancers in the world and styles are mimicked and stolen. I just want to be able to stamp it, so that people know and respect it.”
In the words of the Notorious B.I.G, if you don’t know, now you know.