L Phrase’s Jillian Mercado on Repping Queer Disabled Latinx Visibility

Mannequin, actress, and incapacity advocate Jillian Mercado first landed on the style world’s radar in 2014 when she was featured in an advert marketing campaign for denim model Diesel, her first massive gig. Quickly after, she signed with IMG Fashions, and has since added campaigns for Nordstrom, Goal, and Olay to her résumé; been on the runways of New York Vogue Week; appeared on a billboard in Occasions Sq. and on the duvet of Teen Vogue; and even labored with the Queen Bee herself (modeling merch for Beyoncé’s Formation world tour).

Nonetheless, there was one thing else in Mercado past her putting magnificence and wicked-cool fashion that the producers of The L Phrase: Technology Q noticed in her. Although she had no skilled appearing expertise, she landed the function of Maribel on season 1 of the rebooted collection. Now with a second season below her belt, Mercado displays on her journey from younger musician to style icon to Hollywood ingénue.

“I used to be such an imaginary child,” remembers Mercado, who was recognized with muscular dystrophy in her teenagers. “I went from eager to be a ballerina to eager to be an astronaut,” however ultimately settled on turning into knowledgeable violinist.

“I used to be so into classical music and used to go to the philharmonic on their free days, and simply sit throughout rehearsal. I used to be like, Oh, my God, I need to be right here someday.”

Destiny had one thing else in thoughts. Her mom’s work as a seamstress slowly started to beginning her love for style at an early age. Mercado studied on the Vogue Institute of Know-how in New York Metropolis however says {that a} profession in modeling or appearing nonetheless appeared out of attain just because she by no means noticed anybody like herself (disabled, queer, and of shade) in these realms.

“As soon as I sort of confronted the truth of the shortage of illustration and inclusion there was of the incapacity neighborhood…that basically sort of turned my entire world the other way up,” she says. “As a result of it wasn’t about me chasing my desires anymore and being within the style trade or leisure trade. It was like my existence is a political assertion…. I’ve such a possibility proper now to actually make actual change throughout the trade.”


This story is a part of The Advocate’s 2021 Movie and TV concern, which is out on newsstands October 5, 2021. To get your individual copy straight, assist queer media and subscribe — or obtain yours for Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple Information.

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