Sierra Nowak Talks Modeling, Pageantry And The Upcoming Film, “Unintended”

Words + Interview By: Krystal Luster

Sierra Nowak currently holds 2 titles as “Miss South Bay USA” and “Miss Turismo Latino” and she recently placed 4th in the “Miss Jetset 2018” pageant for the West Coast region. With 2 crowns and a progressive career in TV and film, Miss Nowak still manages to handle her life gracefully. Be sure to be on the lookout for her upcoming film, “Unintended” alongside actor, Jamal Woolard.

For starters, how did you grow up?
I grew up very humble. My mother, father and myself all shared a small one bedroom house. Two of us would sleep on the bed and the other on the couch and we would rotate. My mother was always a stay-at-home mom as she became ill when I was very young and my father is a disabled veteran so finances were always tight. Once I got older, I wanted to do things we couldn’t afford like cheerleading and beauty pageants so I started working at Dairy Queen when I was 15 to create those opportunities for myself. I wouldn’t change anything about my upbringing as it taught me independence, resilience and hard work from an early age.

What do you love most about your hometown of Akron, OH?
I love so much about Akron, but I love the people the most. Growing up in a town like this you make your friends for life. I could break down and call upwards of 10 people who would be there to lend a hand and when you’re out and about, everyone is friendly, they ask how your day went, etc. and they really listen to your response. It’s a beautiful place.

How did you get into modeling?
My mom was actually a model when she was younger so it was always something I wanted to do. I started going on auditions at the age of 8, got my first talent agency at the age of 11 and never looked back.

Were you ever hesitant to become a model considering the pressures that come with it?
Honestly, I never thought about those pressures. By the time I was aware of them it was too late. I was already in the game. I was bullied a lot growing up and when I was on set or taking photos, it was actually a confidence booster for me.

What was your first professional modeling gig?
I honestly can’t remember my very first one as a young girl but when I was thirteen my first runway job was for a brand called Cupcake Mafia at a show in Cleveland, Ohio. I remember that show like it was yesterday.

What are your thoughts on plus size modeling? Do you feel it is a vital representation in the modeling industry overall?
I believe there was always a need for “plus-size models.” From a business standpoint, commercialized clothing is being marketed to the masses and on average the American woman is not a size 0 like the majority of models are. I believe that market is still underused and has a lot of opportunity to grow, especially in the swimsuit market.

Do you still plan on creating your own bikini line? If so, will it cater to more than 1 body type?
That has been put on hold as I am doing a lot more acting these days than modeling but if I do it will absolutely cater to all shapes and sizes.

How did you do in the “Miss Jetset 2018” competition?
I placed 4th in the West Coast region!

Tell us about your upcoming film “Unintented”.
I am so excited about this film. Unintended is an action packed film about an unexpected love and how it impacted everyone it touched. It is currently in post production.

How is working with actor Jamal Woolard? Is there anything you’ve learned from him in particular that has stood out to you?
I was super surprised by how laid back he was. He was actually giving advice to one of the musicians in the jazz band for our gala scene, telling him about the importance of ignoring the women who are no good for you and not buying into the hype. He told him to find one good girl and get through life together, which I thought was really beautiful for him to say knowing this boy probably looks up to him and his career.

Speaking of Jamal, 2Pac or The Notorious B.I.G.? GO.
So this depends if we’re talking about the movie or the actual individual, I love 2Pac but Notorious was a much better film, in my opinion.

What was your overall experience like participating in the reality game show, “90s House”?
Overall, it was an incredible experience to challenge myself and meet amazing people who I still keep in touch with. Jenielle from the show is my current roommate and I couldn’t be more grateful to have her in my life. However, with that being said, I don’t think I will ever do reality TV again.

What was your strategy to win?
I’m very strategic. I really wanted to play the underdog so that no one would try to cut me off early. I was genuinely nice to everyone in the house and didn’t come off too strong until the numbers started dwindling so no one felt as if I was a threat….stealth mode.

Tell us about your leading lady role in “The Ripple Effect”.
This was such an incredible experience. My character Julia is a total brain with a heart of gold. She assists her friend, Marcus (the lead) in uncovering the murder of one of his waterpolo teammates through emotional support and with her canny problem solving skills.

Is there anything in particular that you’ve done to prepare for this role vs. the others?
I definitely bonded with the cast a lot more than I usually do before shooting. The leads were all friends for a long time in the script and we wanted a natural chemisty on screen so we hung out and spoke a lot before shooting which made the experience of filming even better.

How do you manage to split your time between your career and being Miss South Bay USA and Miss Turismo Latino 2018?
I don’t get much sleep! It is not easy to balance two titles. I haven’t done that in a long time but luckily they only overlaped for a few months. I work almost everyday but if I’m off early or catch a day off I make sure to get out in the community and make use of my title.

What are some of your duties as a winner of a pageant?
Everyone wants the crown but I don’t think a lot of people truly understand what comes with the title. IT IS A JOB. There are photoshoots, appearances, charity events, you have a platform you communicate and fight for, it is a 24/7 job on top of your current life and none of these events are paid so you really have to be good at time management.

Over the years, pageant winners have been stripped of their titles for exhibiting behaviors that go against what some of these pageants deem morally acceptable. Being that we are living in the era of social media, are you more cautious about what you do and say online?
Yes, absolutely. I am so grateful I started pageants before I started social media. I have always been very cautious of what I post or even like. I know that as a titleholder there are young women watching me and my job is to be a role model. I don’t even like posts with alcohol or profanity.

Speaking of social media and people being “politically correct”, where do we draw the line? We are human, right?
I have a very liberal mindset when it comes to social media. I say do what you feel in your heart is best and makes you feel good. I have preferance or the way I live my own life, but I don’t judge anyone for their opinions or lifestyles. I think it’s beautiful to use social media for all forms of expression and it doesn’t always have to be politically correct, but that’s all possible without being purposelly offensive.

Ok, let’s get random for a moment. Name 3 things you learned about life while attending The University of Southern California.
Wow, what didn’t I learn about life while attending USC. I learned that finding a bestfriend to get through tough times with can change your life. Secondly, I learned that while I was surrounded by a lot of money, I didn’t need designer handbags or a shiny new car to feel fullfilled as I was getting an education some can only dream of having access to. Lastly, I learned that education comes from more than just a great book, class or professor. I traveled abroad twice through USC and I learned more about myself, life and the world by living in another country than any one class had every taught me. I am so grateful to have a global mindset and to appreciate other cultures because of the experiences USC allowed me to have.

I’m going to throw a few names out there. Say whatever comes to mind.

A) Chance The Rapper
One of my favorite artitsts of all time. I am in awe of his unwavering faith, love for his family and passion for his community and hometown. He is such an impressive human. I had the chance to meet him at the MTV Music Awards last year after filming the 90s House and he had such beautiful, pure energy.

B) Lebron James
The KING! Lebron makes people feel proud to be from Akron, showing no matter where you come from with hard work and passion you can change your life. He is not just a ball player, he is a true businessman and entrepreneur. Lebron gives the kids something to believe in outside of themselves and always gives back to the city. He’s such an impressive man beyond atheletics.

C) Ella Mai
A beautiful soul. I had the opportunity to work with her prior to her exposure through the Boo’d Up track. We shot the video a few weeks before the marketing campaign launched and just to meet her and see how humble and yer very talented she is was a very cool experience. We were all joking and laughing in the car scene that starts her video and her genuine personality was infectious.

What was your biggest problem at the age of 16. How did you solve it?
My biggest problem at the age of 16 was trying to figure out how to apply for college, finding out what tests I had to take and how to apply for financial aid. This was my junior year in high school and being a first generation college student, my parents knew nothing about the process.  Luckily, I had a really strong mentor at the school named Mrs. Stewart and she took the time with me after school for weeks to navigate through the process.

What is your favorite:

A) Film
The Notebook is my all time favorite. I am a super hopeless romantic and Rachel McAdams is one of my all time favorite actresses. I own the book and 2 copies of the DVD just in case I overuse one of them.

B) Ice Cream
I love ice cream in general, pretty much any flavor! If I had to pick, I would say anything with both caramel and chocolate in it.

C) Country to Visit
I have an affinity for latin culture and also for island living. Puerto Rico is my absolute favorite country to visit.

D) Book
Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. This book changed my outlook on life.

What was the funniest moment on set of Kevin Hart/Chocolate Droppa’s music video for “Push It” featuring Trey Songz?
Kevin had come up to me and told me to take off my shoes and I laughed thinking he was joking because I was so tall with the high heels on. However, it turned out he was serious and he just stared at me waiting for me to take them off. I ended up barefoot in the entire video.

What can we expect from you for the remainder of 2018?
Currently, I’m shooting a series called Blue Laces by Christina Cooper and that will availble later this year on Amazon. I also recently wrapped on two feature film projects that will be released in 2019. Right now I am prepping throughout the summer via classes and updating my media to prepare for pilot season.

Any last words?
You can do anything you set your mind to. Don’t let anyone talk you out of your dreams because they were too afraid to follow their own. Believe in yourself and work on your mind, energy and thoughts. Be positive and the rest will follow.

Follow Sierra Nowak on Twitter @SierraNowak and on Instagram @sierra_nowak. Photo submitted by Aryel Nicole PR.

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