Jillian Mercado: Meet the wheelchair-bound fashion model starring in Beyonce's latest campaign

Mercado is a prominent fashion model, blogger and now the face of Beyonce's merchandise 

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The Independent Online

Beyonce has cast Jillian Mercado, a model and fashion blogger who has muscular dystrophy disorder, to promote her latest fashion range.

A prominent figure in the new wave of models challenging beauty ideals in the fashion industry, Mercado is keen to fight the lack of representation of disabled people in the fashion industry and their enduring stigma. 

Mercado, who is known for her fashion blog Manufactured1987, was signed by IMG Models back in August 2015. Born and raised in New York, the 28-year-old is one of the leading disabled models in the fashion industry.

Mercado revealed her excitement at being chosen to front Beyonce’s new range on Instagram. “OK LADIES now let's get in FORMATION! So BEYond excited to finally announce that I'm on the official Beyonce website!!!” she wrote.

“A special shout out to Queen Bee herself and the amazing team behind it,“ she added.


A photo posted by Jillian Mercado (@jilly_peppa) on

Mercado rose to fame after featuring in a 2014 Diesel advert and is one of the few disabled models in the world of fashion. After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology and starting her blog, she started to break into the industry.

In an interview with Dazed & Confused a few months ago, Mercado spoke candidly about the myriad obstacles facing disabled models. In her own words, “There are some clothing lines it would be a little difficult for me to wear because of my disability but what if designers had me in mind when designing”.

Mercado also explained her desire to be a role model for her former self. “At a very young age I was obsessed with magazines and editorials,” she explains. “For me it was very difficult to imagine that one day I could possibly be a part of this world of fashion – I didn’t see anyone who looked like me because they all looked the same”. 

Muscular dystrophy is a condition that gradually causes the muscles to weaken, leading to a growing level of disability and making it increasingly difficult to walk.