The world may be buzzing about Caitlyn Jenner and her potential new cosmetics deals, but Andreja Pejic is the first openly transgender female model to land a makeup campaign for Make Up For Ever. Earlier this year Pejic became the first transgender model to land a fashion spread in Vogue, and made her runway debut post-gender reassignment surgery at London Fashion Week, but she describes her new role as the face of a cosmetics campaign — with her own signature palette — as a “match made in heaven.”
“It’s very important for me to accept jobs and opportunities that match who I am as a person,” Pejic says in the brand’s new teaser video, unveiled Wednesday. With a slogan of “Be bold, be unexpected, be you,” and images of the 23-year-old Australian model transforming from one makeup look to the next in seconds, her latest gig does seem like a perfect fit.
With the topic of transitioning at the forefront of pop culture this week thanks to Caitlyn Jenner’s new Vanity Fair cover, Pejic offers up incredibly thoughtful insight into her own experience, the importance of being a trans brand spokesperson, the way the media is handling coverage of Jenner, and her take on Caitlyn’s new reality show.
Joanna Douglas: What has it been like to go from struggling with transgender identity to being the face of a major beauty campaign?
Andreja Pejic: When I was little I would dream about what it would be like to grow up and live life as a woman. That was my biggest dream. I would sit for hours and hours just imagining. I didn’t care if I was scrubbing toilets — if I was doing it as a woman I’d be happy. To have made the transition and to be accepted and celebrated by such a great and iconic brand, I feel like it’s incredible and I feel like it sets an example for so many others, and I’m thankful to Make Up For Ever for making a brave step.
The trans community is getting some well-deserved attention this week on a national level. Do you think this will be a shift we’ll see more of?
I think it’s definitely something we’re going to see a lot more of. I think it’s about recognizing that the world is a diverse place — it’s as diverse as the 42 shades of [Make Up For Ever] HD foundation! — and there’s no reason that beauty campaigns and the beauty industry should not reflect that. The more people who hear about these stories, the more awareness there is. I think it can break a lot of stereotypes. It’s about showing that this is a human experience, and this is something people can learn from. People in the LGBT community or not — it’s for anyone who’s always felt different and the message is: Be you.
When it comes to the discussion of Caitlyn Jenner, there’s so much focus on her appearance and her physical transformation, but obviously there’s so much going on emotionally, too. How do you think the media is handling this unveiling of Caitlyn?
I think it’s handling it better than it would have 10 years ago. We’ve come a long way. There is a little bit more sensationalizing than I would like to see, but we’re talking about really mass media and she is such a huge figure in American society so it’s really gone mainstream. I would definitely like to see a focus more on the emotional side, too.