Drop everything, Taylor Swift has just released a music video for her song “Lavender Haze,” and I’m sure we’re all wondering who played her love interest in the video — transgender activist and model Laith Ashley. Ashley took to Instagram to praise the stunning visuals and story of the music video, and thanked Swift for her support and for being an ally, citing the importance of representation in media and that “love always wins.”
Since its release less than 24 hours ago, the music video has received massive attention, with 3.4 million views and counting. The viewership has even prompted fans to search for and speculate on a possible Taylor’s Version re-recording of Swift’s Speak Now album. But now we come to the model who has captured the hearts of many from the music video. So far, what do we know about Laith Ashley? Let’s look at some facts about him (and maybe do some Instagram stalking while we’re at it).
Laith Ashley got his start as a model.
Laith Ashley De La Cruz, better known as Laith Ashley, spoke with Vogue Paris about himself and the accomplishments he has made in the entertainment industry. During New York Fashion Week, Ashley walked the runway for Gypsy Sport, becoming one of the first transgender male models to appear in a national campaign. Slay, the first modeling agency for transgender models, also represents him.
He’s spoken candidly about growing up as a transgender kid in the U.S
In the same interview, Ashley shared more about his journey growing up as a transgender child in the United States, as well as the support he received from his family growing up in a Dominican-American household. “Growing up trans in the United States was not difficult,” he said, “especially for me because I was able to express myself without opposition from my family or those close to me.”
He’s also a singer-songwriter.
Ashley demonstrates his versatility by being not only a model but also a singer-songwriter. His Twitter bio references the release of his song “Like Me,” which he dropped in 2019. He has two other songs available on streaming services, “Can’t Wait” and “Before You Go,” both of which were released in 2017. Who here also wants to hear more music from him in 2023?
Ashley is an actor, too.
Ashley has dabbled in acting and is a prominent television personality, not to mention his presence on YouTube and social media. He made headlines in 2018 when he became the first transgender member of RuPaul’s Drag Race‘s pit crew, which assists during mini challenges. He is also an actor, having appeared in shows such as Strut, which was executive produced by Whoopi Goldberg, among others.
He’s an outspoken activist for LGBTQ+ equality and representation in media.
Ashley is not only outspoken about his identity as a transgender man in the entertainment industry; he also advocates for and discusses issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community. Ashley shed light on the problematic side of the entertainment industry when casting trans people in television and film in an interview piece for The Advocate. “The entertainment industry is trying to be more welcoming of trans people, but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” he said. “There’s training that needs to be done around language; there’s training that needs to be done around trans people in general.”