HBO Max's 'Legendary': Why judge Leiomy Maldonado is known as Amazon Leiomy, the Wonder Woman of Voguing
Leiomy currently presides as a judge on the ballroom themed reality show 'Legendary' on HBO Max that premieres on May 27
If you are a follower of the ballroom culture, there is a 100% chance that you may have heard about Leiomy Maldonado. If you are not a fan of the subculture but are a TV buff, you would remember her as the person playing Florida Felicity in the FX series 'Pose' since 2018. For the ones who've managed to stay unaware of her presence from all her previous outings, things are about to change now as she presides over the judges' panel of the highly anticipated show 'Legendary' on HBO Max.
She's a very important and prominent figure in the ballroom community and the only judge with actual expertise and experience in voguing and news of her being a part of the show is well received among the community. Read on to know more about her.
Leiomy is known for her iconic voguing steps that include the gravity-defying backflips and spins. She also does the dip step quite a lot, however, she hates how pop culture has ruined it. If you are a 'RuPaul's Drag Race' fan you would know that there is something called a "death drop". That is exactly what a dip is, bending a knee behind one's back while holding up your other leg straight up in the air.
A known fact about Leiomy is that she doesn't approve of anyone bastardizing the term "dip" as "death drop" and her tweet from 2018 proves the same. "There’s no such thing as a 'death drop' that’s the name given by people who came across vogue videos with no knowledge about voguing. It's a Dip!" she had written at the time.
Known as "La Mujer Maravilla" or the "Wonder Woman" of vogue, Leiomy comes from humble beginnings and was born in the Bronx. She was first introduced to voguing through New York City's underground ballroom scene, Twiggy Pucci being a prominent name of the same. Leiomy found out about voguing while she was in the Boys & Girls Club and that is where she ran into someone who would be her first trans mentor.
It didn't require a lot of time for her to fall in love with the art and she wanted to study it and perform it more and sometimes Leiomy would even practice alone. From there Leiomy got introduced into Hetrick Martin Institute, which is an after school program at Harvey Milk High School. That is where she was able to learn about the origins of voguing and where it really came from. She also learned to battle here.
The first ball she participated in, she got chopped off which means she was ousted from the competition. However, she refused to give up. She also received a lot of backlash for her athletic body type in the initial stages of her career. "I'm more athletic and they're used to trans women being more 'soft' and more 'womanly' to their expectations, so I dealt with a lot of backlash," she had said.
In 2009, Leiomy appeared on 'America' s Best Dance Crew' as the first transgender woman to appear on the show with the dance troupe 'Vogue Evolution'. She describes that experience as a tough one as she was not confident enough to In 2010, Leiomy appeared in Willow Smith's music video titled 'Whip my Hair' and her iconic choreography steps, including the signature hair flip move called "Leiomy Lolly" went on to later being adapted by superstars Beyonce, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga among other musicians and dancers.
She said in a recent interview with E! that "I felt like that should have been me teaching them those things. I'm not mad about it because they still celebrated me. People knew where it came from." In 2014, the Museum of Modern Art chose Maldonado to be one of five dancers for a special showcase. In 2017, Nike collaborated with her for their #betrue collection and in 2018, she started choreographing and appearing on 'Pose'. Cut to 2020, she's one of the only judges familiar with the culture on 'Legendary'.
Leiomy is also the mother of the House of Amazon. In the ball community, the house members are like chosen family and Leiomy focuses on "unity" within her community and aims to show "love, compassion and just bring out the true art of what houses are supposed to be about — family."
She doesn't perform as much nowadays but attends house balls to support her kids (house members). "I go out there, I support them, I help them get ready for the balls and things like that and I just sit back and watch and I just do what I need to do and I take my talents to places where they actually appreciate it." However, Leiomy doesn't shy away from admitting that sometimes all she wants to do is dance.
"Voguing is a high energy style dance where people can basically find themselves or be whoever they want to be… A lot of times, I literally blackout," she quips. "I feel like I literally become Wonder Woman at that moment and I just dance. I just feel the most free when I'm dancing. That’s when I feel connected to myself a hundred percent." Catch Leiomy Maldonado bringing her expertise to 'Legendary' starting May 27 only on HBO Max's show 'Legendary'. Also featuring on the judges' panel along with her are Jameela Jamil, Law Roach and Megan Thee Stallion.