These famed University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) gymnasts, Chae Campbell, Nia Dennis, Margzetta Frazier and Sekai Wright are serving Black girl magic on the April digital cover story of Essence Girls United’s “Flipping the Culture.” The four UCLA gymnasts all-stars speak with writer, D’Shonda Brown, about becoming collegiate superstars who embody Black excellence and Black representation in athleticism as they soar to chart-topping scores with cultural playlists, rhythmic floor routines, all while incorporating activism in support of their people. They also discuss their love for the sport, representation, elevating the culture and getting the attention of one of their biggest musical inspirations.
Campbell, 19 year old UCLA gymnast, speaks with Brown about representation in the arena of gymnastics, “Growing up in the sport of gymnastics, I didn’t see a lot of Black people…I was the only one in my group that looked how I looked. Having more representation and seeing people thrive, not just Black gymnasts, but also other races and ethnicities, is really encouraging for the young girls out there.”
The young gymnasts ranging from ages 19 to 21 have a laser focus on inspiring and encouraging the next generation of young Black girls to be seen and felt in all aspects of sports, entertainment and life overall.
“My main goal was to inspire people to do what they love and to have fun and be their most authentic self,” 22-year-old Dennis shares with Essence Girls United, “So if we have done that in any way, then I would definitely say that the goal has been accomplished.”The four gymnasts have worked to “flip the culture” by showing up in spaces that weren’t always intended for Black women. These young ladies use their platform to integrate Black culture and music through their floor routines and the Black girl magic essence they bring to the mat with each competition.
Frazier speaks with the publication about how she caught the eye of one of her biggest inspirations, the iconic Janet Jackson, after using choreography inspired by Jackson’s hit music videos “If” and “Nasty.” The 21 year old, three-time uneven bars All-American and 2021 Pac-12 champion woke up to a nod from Jackson after her floor routine went viral.
“Being in a sport like this and seeing women of color rock the world really is a dream come true. Gymnastics has consumed so much of our lives with the concept of flipping and being perfect,” Frazier continues, “But being recognized by ESSENCE for bringing so much more to the table than just athletics truly is an honor.”
These young college athletes are motivating generations to come with their confidence, talent and beauty. Sekai Wright, 20 year old UCLA gymnast, sheds light on why they continue to promote positivity, style and grace through gymnastics.
“We do our best to stay positive because we know what we’re representing,” Wright said to Essence, “As young Black women, it’s so satisfying that we can express and elevate our culture through our gymnastics.”