Following in the sexy strides of trailblazing supermodels such as Naomi Campbell and China's Liu Wen, Perth-bound Carmen Carrera is the latest catwalk queen to wave the fashion flag for the world's minorities.
The New York-based transgender beauty, reality-TV star and burlesque performer cum model - who recently made headlines after an online petition signed by more than 40,000 people for lingerie retailer Victoria's Secret to include the 28-year-old as its newest "Angel" failed - is breaking new ground in her quest to conquer the world's runways.
After being signed by Elite Model Management in August, Carrera featured in a landmark 16-page spread in the September issue of W magazine and walked her first runway show in October for Marco Marco at LA Fashion Week.
And she is already part of high fashion's star-studded inner circle: Campbell held Carrera's hand as she walked her into the recent American premiere of US reality-TV modelling search The Face while fellow haute couture heavyweight Linda Evangelista made an impromptu appearance in Carrera's coveted W shoot.
"The modelling industry (is made up of) artists and they're always open to beautiful art, and I don't think gender really matters," Carrera told AAA.
"These are all baby steps and I just have an open mind and a positive attitude."
Born Christopher Roman in New Jersey to a Puerto Rican father and Peruvian mother, Carrera - who started the change from male to female two years ago after making her TV debut on smash-hit US reality series RuPaul's Drag Race - refrained from expressing her true identity for much of her life.
"I remember I kissed a boy on his cheek because I had a crush on him and it was innocent, and my teacher called my mum and it was a big deal," Carrera recalled.
"I learnt from that moment I was different and I couldn't accept myself. I grew up trying to create an act so that no one would know what was going on inside and I could just blend in.
"For the most part, my high school friends treated me well but they just didn't know me completely."
Carrera's gender transition came with serious emotional challenges.
"I was on TV, I was touring, people wanted to meet me and I was going through a lot of insecurities," she said.
"You go from male to female and all your spirit wants to do is express itself truthfully, so it's hard. But I've crossed that gender line now and it's OK.
"I don't have to be so guarded . . . being fearless and just being myself, it's made me feel so much happier and more secure."
Inspired by Hispanic pioneers Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin in her younger years, Carrera hopes to encourage other minorities to step out and break stereotypes just as she has done.
"I've got to know different people in society . . . we have the same emotions, the same hardships and I just think if someone can draw influence from me, to be who they are, then I'm all for that."
Carrera appeared alongside fellow RuPaul's Drag Race star Latrice Royale at Connections Nightclub yesterday as part of her Australian tour.