EXCLUSIVE: Andreja Pejic Sees ‘Marie Claire’ Cover as a ‘Gate-Opening Moment for Transgender Models’

by Stacy Lambe 12:50 PM PST, February 19, 2016
Photo: Marie Claire

If there are any barriers facing the transgender community in the fashion industry, Andreja Pejic does not appear to be intimidated.

Since coming out as a transgender woman in July 2014, the 24-year-old Bosnian beauty -- already a success thanks to her androgynous appeal and ability to model both men's and women's clothing -- continues to push her career to new heights.

In May 2015, Pejic became the first openly transgender model profiled in Vogue magazine. In the same year, she modeled two seasons of GILES during London Fashion Week and became the face of Make Up For Ever. In February, she landed her first major magazine cover -- the March 2016 issue of Marie Claire Spain -- since her transition. The magazine named her "Model of the Year," a distinction that's gone to Irina Shayk, Gemma Ward, and Linda Evangelista before her.

Photo: Marie Claire

Given the recent success of other transgender models (most notably, Hari Nef was signed by IMG Models last May and made her acting debut in Transparent season two), it's no wonder Pejic views this as a watershed moment. "It's a point of validation for my career," she tells ETonline about the recognition in high-profile fashion magazines.

"[It's a] gate-opening moment for transgender models," Pejic adds with excitement about what it means for her to be recognized alongsideMarie Claire Spain's other top models. "It feels beyond to have my name follow and gives me hope in showing that girls like us, are girls that are just as good!"

Going beyond what it means to be the "first" to do something, Pejic is looking for some normalcy in the fashion world. "I hope that halfway through my career or at least by the end of my career, it becomes normal to be a 'transgender model,'" she says, echoing a similar sentiment expressed byGeena Rocero, a fellow model and producer of LOGO's Beautiful as I Want to Be.

"I want to offer more than just a conversation on being trans," Rocero recently told ETonline about being accepted in the industry.

Andreja Pejic walks the runway at the GILES show during London Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2015/16. Photo: Getty Images

Like Nef and Rocero, Pejic also has ambitions outside of the modeling world. She chronicled her transition for a Kickstarter documentary. She's even dabbled in the world of acting, making her debut on a Turkish TV series, Fatih. But further attempts at acting have stalled. She was slated to appear in Sofia Coppola's adaptation of The Little Mermaid before that production fell apart and she told Marie Claire Spain she didn't get a role as a transgender character on Penny Dreadful because she was too far into her transition.

Her most notable work outside the fashion world may be her appearance alongside David Bowie and Tilda Swinton in the late singer's 2013 music video for "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)." Bowie, who built a career on an androgynous persona, meant everything to Pejic.

"Meeting him and working with him on his music video is hands down the highlight of my life," she says, recalling his comforting nature on set. "He was incredibly sweet; we chatted about politics in between me sticking claws down his throat."

Photo: Columbia Records

She's even remained in touch with Swinton, who reached out to the model after Bowie's death. "The last email I got was, 'Star man waiting in the sky,'" Pejic says, sharing the Oscar-winner's reference to the 1972 song, "Starman."

While what happens outside of modeling for her remains to be seen, Pejic is grateful for her recent success. "Only a year ago, I released a new life," she told Marie Claire Spain.

When asked if she has any advice for other transgender models hoping to achieve the same level as her, Pejic's answer to ETonline is simple: "Kill it." No doubt, as she continues to do.