By Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Popsugar
Actress and model Jillian Mercado has spent her entire career breaking barriers for the disabled community.
From her role on Showtime’s “The L Word: Generation Q” to her unprecedented appearance on the runway during New York Fashion Week in 2020, Mercado has been making her presence known in the entertainment world for some time now, representing not just Latinas, but the disability community.
Mercado, who is of Dominican descent and was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy as a teenager, is a self-made success. She started out as fashion blogger and eventually landed a modeling contract, which has allowed her to become a source of inspiration for disabled Latinas and the disability community as a whole. The 34-year-old is proud of who she is and embraces the unique position she’s in as both a Latina celebrity and a disabled celebrity — and her achievements and commitment to representation are truly something to be celebrated. “It’s not about opening doors for me, it’s about removing them,” Mercado, who has partnerships with Yves Saint Laurent and Tommy Hilfiger, told “V Magazine.” We can’t wait to see what she has in store for the future.
Here are just some of the ways Jillian Mercado has paved the way for better representation for members of the disability community — and how she continues to break boundaries with her history-making career.
In 2014, Nicola Formichetti, the former artistic director of Diesel (who has worked with the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga), selected Mercado to appear in the line’s spring 2014 ad campaign, launching her modeling career.
Mercado told Racked that she’d originally written off the idea of modeling. “I suppressed the feeling because I didn’t think anyone would take me seriously,” she said. “I never thought I’d get picked, but my friends encouraged me to try out, because, hey, you never know — and two weeks later, they got back to me.”
Mercado still works with Formichetti and considers him a good friend. Prior to that first Diesel shoot, Mercado had her own fashion blog and worked as the editorial director of We The Urban magazine, but she was largely behind the scenes. However, she was able to book more modeling gigs almost immediately after the Diesel campaign came out.
Mercado signed with IMG Models not long after the Diesel campaign. She has since appeared in various magazines and been hired for several print campaigns for major retailers, including Target, Nordstrom, and Olay. She’s currently represented by CAA Worldwide, one of the world’s largest talent agencies.
In 2016, Beyoncé hired Jillian to model for her “Formation” merchandise print campaign, marking a special moment for disability representation. Jillian led the highly visible campaign, which appeared on Bey’s official website. “All this press on my announcement on Beys site is truly surreal & amazing,” Mercado tweeted at the time.
Click here to read the full article on Popsugar.