Gymnast Nia Dennis, last year, paid tribute to Black culture with a 90-second floor exercise that went viral. The performance was viewed more than 10 million times in the first week. After graduating from UCLA, she continued her internet-breaking moves.
Nia Dennis joined host Lisa McRee on “LA Times Today” to talk about her career and what comes next.
This May, Dennis performed at the prestigious Met Gala in New York City. She shared what it was like to get that gig and work on the routine with UCLA gymnastics choreographer BJ Das.
“First of all, I thought I was being punked... But Stella McCartney, she called me and she’s like, ‘I have an extravagant idea and I want you to represent me at the Met Gala.’ I’m being like, this has to be a joke. And honestly, she kind of created her vision centered around me and the skill set that I can bring. I thought that was incredible for her to put so much thought and effort into my craft and what I do and willing to bring that to light on the biggest stage... She brought in the Brooklyn United Marching Band, and they were so inspiring,” Dennis said.
One of Dennis’ viral routines was a celebration of Black culture. She spoke about why it was important to her to highlight her community on the gymnastics floor.
“I felt really directly affected by the Black Lives Matter protests, and I unfortunately couldn’t be on the front lines with my brothers and sisters because I was recovering from a surgery. I wanted to be on the front lines, but I couldn’t. So, I wanted to bring in a different kind of way in a different light, bring it to the sport of gymnastics where it’s not so commonly seen or celebrated. And a lot of times Black Lives Matter protest came with a lot of heaviness and a lot of pain. I wanted to just make it light because there’s so much there’s so much to celebrate about Black culture,” she said.
While she made a name for herself in gymnastics, Dennis is not pursuing a professional career in the sport. She talked about what’s next for her after graduation.
“My dream is to be a dancer. I would love to go on tour with some artist, any artist. I just love performing and I love telling a story with my body and moving. And I think dancing is just the perfect way to do that and express myself. I really want to be a model, a stunt double, an actress. I’m taking acting classes right now. And it has been a huge mindset shift from what I’m used to as of being a gymnast and as an athlete,” she shared.
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