Today we’d like to introduce you to Nikeya Young.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Nikeya. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was born in Chicago and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma (from age 2 to 18). After I graduated high school, I moved back to the Chicagoland area for college. I graduated from DePaul University in 2003 and Northeastern Illinois University in 2007. Most people who know me (or know “of” me) know about Nikeya the model, actress, singer/songwriter, or Nikeya the fashion blogger. I began my official pursuit of a career in the entertainment industry in January of 2008. After wanting to pursue this dream my whole life, I decided at the end of 2007 that I would just “go for it”! I would start with modeling first. I booked a photo shoot and once I put the 50% deposit down, there was no turning back! By the end of January 2008, I did my photo shoot, and within 60 days of doing that shoot, I learned of the Miss Plus America pageant system. By the end of that 1st year of pursuing my passion, I became the 2008 Miss Illinois Plus America (went on to place 4th Runner-Up at nationals), modeled in at least 20 fashion shows, and made all sorts of connections, and even ended up starring in a few stage plays! That was ten years ago.
Since then, I have had several national television appearances (including the Steve Harvey Show, Chicago Fire, TV One’s Find Our Missing, and more), numerous radio interviews, served as a Contributing Writer of Plus-Size Fashion articles for PLUS Model Magazine, USA Today, and Examiner.com, released a Contemporary Gospel Album entitled “Victorious One”, and just last year I released my first book “Virtue Chic: Classy Takes Center Stage”. I have pretty much spent my late 20’s & 30’s pursuing every dream in my heart and exploring every gift that God has given me. And I am JUST getting started!
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
A smooth road? While pursuing a career in the entertainment industry??? NAH! Not by a LONG SHOT! LOL! For starters, I’m a curvy woman (I have fluctuated between sizes 12 through 20 over the years) in an industry that thinks anything over a size 4 is plus-sized, or “fat”. So, there has been a lot of rejection (but that’s true in this business no matter WHAT size you are). I have also had to deal with “mean girls” and cliques, and that sort of thing. Having a strong faith in God and in myself equipped me to handle anyone who didn’t see my worth. I have never accepted “no” for an answer. When I got a “no” that was my cue to find another door or window on my own, accomplish my goals, and leave my naysayers wondering “How did she get here”? There will ALWAYS be people who don’t believe in you. Just make sure YOU’RE not one of those people!
Another major challenge was finding the funds to pursue my dreams. Good quality headshots/photo shoots are NOT free! I always advise people who want to get started to keep their day job because they’re going to need it! Either that, or find something flexible or with overnight hours so that you can make it to auditions/gigs during the day. Right now, I am a Group Fitness Instructor at 2 different gyms. I work 4 to 5 hours a week, and my 2-year old son goes to work with me and stays in the childcare room while I teach my fitness classes. This produce a VERY good part-time income for me to save for photo shoots and anything else that I need, and it is also pretty easy to find a sub or trade shifts with my colleagues when I need to audition. Of course, I am married and my husband is the primary breadwinner. I did work as a receptionist for a while too, but once I had my son, the cost of childcare pretty much equaled my salary there, so it didn’t make sense to stay! I came home to be a “Slay-at-Home” Mom.
What should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
In addition to being an Entertainer (SAG-AFTRA Actress/Model/Singer/Songwriter), I am also an Author, Life Coach, and Speaker. My life coaching business, Victorious Living Solutions, helps to provide victorious living solutions for Christian, millennial women. I do One-on-One coaching via Skype, or in person, as well as group coaching sessions. To further inspire Christian Millennial women, I have also created a blog, www.virtuechic.net. I am most proud of being able to inspire and help other women using my faith, life experiences, coaching training, and love of fashion! Virtue Chic and Victorious Living Solutions combines everything that I love and I truly feel like this work is my life’s purpose! People can book me to speak, or book coaches sessions through my personal website www.nikeyayoung.com.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I define success as setting goals for yourself and then accomplishing them one by one. I have no other competition besides myself & am constantly looking to exceed my last “best effort”. For each stage of my life, the markers have been different. Right now, I feel VERY successful because I have an AWESOME marriage, a handsome little boy who is incredibly smart, I am pursuing my purpose, and I have strong faith in God. My goal is to inspire others to find their purpose and live victoriously!
- Website: www.nikeyayoung.com
- Phone: 312-834-7774
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: instagram.com/nikeyayoung
- Facebook: facebook.com/OfficialNikeyaYoung
- Twitter: Twitter.com/NikeyaYoung
- Other: instagram.com/virtuechic
Photographer: Young Creative Services for all pictures except the Whitney Reynolds Show event (just credit Whitney Reynolds).