Actress, Model & Activist
Jillian Mercado is a physically disabled Latinx model, an advocate for greater representation in the industry, and an actress who has appeared in campaigns for Nordstrom, Target, Olay, and on the cover of the first digital September issue of Teen Vogue. She can currently be seen as Maribel in a recurring role on the Showtime series, The L Word: Generation Q, opposite Jennifer Beals.
Growing up, Mercado developed a love for fashion, but the industry’s Eurocentric and ableist beauty standards meant that she didn’t see herself represented. A native New Yorker born to Dominican parents and diagnosed with muscular dystrophy in her early teens, she resolved to redress this inequality by entering the fashion industry herself. She studied a degree in marketing at FIT, going on to intern at Allure magazine in a bid to “learn the politics behind fashion so I could hire people who looked like me,” she said at Women of the World’s 10th annual summit.
Mercado uses her platform to push for greater representation in the industry, saying in an interview with Bustle “I just hope that [underrepresented people] see themselves in me, in any way possible.” Her activism, which focuses on the intersection of gender and disability, has included working with UN Secretary-General António Guterres to reduce inequality, one of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.