#TBT: Finding Her Voice

Time for another #TBT! On the second Thursday of each month, we’ll release a past celeb cover story from our print-only archives. For this round, we’re throwin’ it back to the fall of 2017 with Nia Sioux’s second Sesi cover.

By Andréa Butler | Photographed by Jim Cornfield | Hair by Marissa Cydya | Styled by Amy Hirt | Makeup by Sarah Nelson

Nia Sioux is livin’ on the dance floor — and off — with the purpose her name suggests. Listen in as she tells how she loosed the limits placed on her in the past to reignite her fire for dance, thrive unapologetically, and find a little love in the process.

Hidden amidst the drama that goes down every season on Dance Moms, there’s been another fight brewing just beneath the surface. A fight — never resorting to verbal or physical assaults — for one girl to make it to the top of the pyramid. And stay there.

For seven seasons, we’ve watched Nia Sioux Frazier, the only remaining OG member of the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC), deal with a teacher who just wouldn’t let her be great. Still, Nia pushed through, even creating her own opportunities to shine by dropping dope track after dope track and soaring up the iTunes charts.

Now 16*, Nia is finally letting the world hear another voice she’s discovered within herself, one potentially more powerful than anything she lays down in the studio. One sure to change the course of her life and her career for the better. “Every year, I would be more vocal,” she says. “You don’t have to be quiet or be a doormat. [Speaking out] is something that anyone can do. So, I feel like, now that I’m 16, I really realize that.”

Runnin’ it back right quick, we saw just such a moment unfold this season when Laurieann Gibson came through in Abby’s absence and shined a metaphorical light on Nia’s pent-up feelings. “I usually keep myself together whenever I talk about stuff like that,” Nia shares, recalling the emotional moment she had telling Laurieann how Abby had held her back. “I didn’t realize how much of an impact [Abby] had on my life and how I felt, so it really surprised me that I got choked up and everything,” she continues. “I usually just push it aside and just keep on going, but sometimes, you just break down. Sometimes, it gets to you.”

And sometimes, letting it all out is just what you need to chuck deuces to all those former Ls and start fresh. Nia’s talent is already fire, after all.

From just one week of working with Ms. Boom Kack-Kack herself, Nia brought all the sauce to the stage for her “No Regrets” solo, killing the choreo and landing the top spot on the A-list (Laurieann’s version of the pyramid). “I had the time of my life,” Nia says. “[It] was so much fun, but also, I learned so much from her. She’s such a creative person, and I’m just so fortunate and happy that I got a chance to work with her.”

At the time of this interview, Laurieann was still on deck, but Nia shared, “There are some faces that come back,” and we’re absolutely sure one of those mugs will be Abby’s. Even so, season 7 — one of Nia’s faves (“It’s probably the best one that we’ve ever done because there’s so many twists and turns, so many things are really unexpected that take place.”) — is destined to leave an indelible mark on how she not only tackles wrongs she experiences on the show but also how she wields her newfound assertiveness to provoke thought and change in the real world. “I’m really fortunate that I have the platform to speak out,” Nia says. And if you follow her on social media, you already know — she won’t shy away from addressing important issues.

Following the domestic terror attack that claimed the life of counterprotester Heather Heyer during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, Nia used that platform to Instagram a photo of anti-racist demonstrators with the caption, “At a loss for words over what is happening in Virginia. One thing I do know — hatred cannot be tolerated.” While she was able to collect her thoughts enough to share that post, her raw feelings were much more complex to handle. “I was devastated,” she says. “It actually made me sick. I was like, ‘Mom, this isn’t ok. This isn’t ok.’ I felt like I had to post something for it because I was mad. I was angry and furious.”

What she was not, though? Scared. Nor silent. She’s even thinking about possibly releasing protest songs in the future to encourage people to continue standing up for what’s right. “Everyone has a voice, and everyone can use it,” she says.

This is why Nia is such an inspiration and role model to legions of fans, but TBH, she never really focuses on her star power — even legit forgetting sometimes that she does live life in the limelight. “It’s funny, I don’t really think about it,” she admits, giving props to her fam for keeping her grounded. “Honestly, whenever I go to The Grove or just go out with my friends, I kinda forget that I’m on a TV show. Someone will come up, and they’re like, ‘Oh, hi Nia! Can I get a picture?’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah! Of course! I guess I am on a TV show,” she laughs.

She’d rather bring attention to other girls who may not be famous but who are out here uplifting their communities all the same. So, every week, Nia highlights her #RoleModelMonday, blessing her followers’ TLs with motivational stories of teens surmounting tough life challenges, showing their own selflessness, and generally being beacons of positivity.

It’s no wonder her spirit, which no doubt oozes a level of optimism we should all strive for, caught the eye of a certain cutie (Bryce Xavier of musical.ly fame) she’s been seen posting up with on Insta. And yes, the rumors are true. They are boo’d up for real. “He is a very special person to me, so … yes,” Nia shares confirming their relationship status. “I’ve known him for a very long time, but we’ve been together for a couple of months now.”

And the months yet to come? They’re already showing some promise, too. Nia is set to host a show at New York Fashion Week, and she’ll begin filming a new movie called The Dancer in October, in which she’ll play the lead. It’s a story similar to her own — a small-town girl moves to a big city in hopes of landing her big break. Nia’s also down for being called to guest star on one of her favorite TV shows. “The list goes on because there’s so many great shows right now,” she says. “But I really wanna do a guest spot on Black-ish. I feel like that would be so much fun!” She’s already got the role picked out, too — cousin or best friend.

Slay. On.

*Nia was 16 years old when this cover interview was first published in our fall 2017 issue.

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