When South Africans first met Nia Sioux, she was a determined young dancer on the reality show Dance Moms. We watched as she overcame adversity, including often being picked on and undermined by dance teacher Abby Lee Miller. No matter how she was treated, she pushed forward and with the help and support of her mother, Dr Holly, always came out with a positive attitude and the resolve to carry on.
Now, Nia is starring in The Bold and the Beautiful, and the ambitious young star is proving she can effortlessly transition from child reality star to actress, holding her own in a completely different environment.
She plays the role of Emma, an intern at the Forrester Creations fashion house, who shakes things up by suggesting the models incorporate dance into their routines. She also gets involved with Xander (Adain Bradley) and things get interesting when his ex-girlfriend turns out to be Zoe (Kiara Barnes), who is extremely jealous of Emma.
Nia gave us an insight into her life – and what her future holds.
How are you doing? What are things like right now?
I'm doing well. Life is very interesting at the moment, but I'm doing the best I can. I started college this fall, so I've been having a good time taking classes, and I've just been chilling at home. I’m always getting tested, making sure I'm good.
Are you back in LA? Because you've spent some time away, haven't you?
At the beginning of quarantine, I spent time at home in Pittsburgh with my family. Then I came back to LA because I missed it. I had just moved into my apartment in March, and I never got a chance to even clean it up. There were just boxes everywhere. I'll go home for Thanksgiving and probably stay at home for a while and try not to travel too much during this time, since it's so scary and unpredictable. But I’m just doing the best I can trying to stay safe.
You’ve only recently started studying. Are you doing online classes?
It's all online. I have Zoom classes. I drove through the campus the first day I got here, but I haven’t been into any of the buildings or anything.
It must be so difficult because you're missing out on so many experiences.
Yeah, there's so many things I want to do, but the thing is, everyone's going through the same thing. We’re all in this together.
Absolutely. What are you studying?
I'm studying American literature and culture.
So not acting or dance or singing or any of that?
I wanted to study something that was outside of my work, but I am thinking about maybe joining the dance team. I wanted to do something different. I already take acting and voice classes, and obviously, I continue to dance. So, I just wanted to do something out of my comfort zone. And something else that I'm passionate about. I love writing.
So, you could also at some point maybe go into the script-writing side of the business?
Absolutely. I mean, eventually I would love to write my own scripts or even direct or produce.
How exciting was it when you landed the role of Emma? I mean, you were only 16 at the time.
Honestly, it was such an amazing day. I had a good audition, but they were like, oh, we'll be in contact with you. And I said okay, but usually you go to auditions and people tell you that and they don't mean it. They first asked me to do four episodes, which I was ecstatic about, and then they asked me to join the show as a regular. I was just so grateful to be able to have that experience and to work with such amazing actors.
What was it like being part of The Bold and the Beautiful family? Many of them have worked together for so long.
There is a great connection between all of them, great chemistry, and they are like a family. And they welcomed me from the start. When I was on set, the director gave me so much advice and so many people were looking out for me. If I needed help, they were there for me. I felt very welcomed.
That must have been lovely for you, to work on a set where the people were kind, considering the show you were coming from.
Yes. It was a completely different atmosphere than the show I was on previously. It wasn't a toxic environment. It was refreshing to be on a job where people liked going to work and were doing their job, you know. Very nice.
What did you think about the character of Emma when you first started playing her? She’s also young and stylish and talented, so I’m sure you could relate.
I love Emma as a character. I related to her a lot. I feel she has a really big heart and always tries to help people. She’s also very outgoing. Honestly, we're very, very similar, but there were differences too. Emma is a little immature and naive and has a lot of growing up to do, which I feel like is kind of the opposite to me. I may have growing up to do but I wouldn't say I'm naive.
How did you feel about the whole love triangle that was going on?
It was kind of fun to film because we had another girl on the set, Kiara Barnes. Oh, she's so sweet. It was fun to have that dynamic of a love triangle because I've never been in a love triangle before. I loved getting to play a role that has so many layers to it.
Many people would have quit the industry years ago after the way you were treated in Dance Moms, but you have always persevered. A lot of young girls see you as a role model for your strength. Do you see yourself as one?
Oh, that is a great question. It’s crazy because a lot of people would say many young girls, and some boys as well, see me as a role model. And I'm honoured to be viewed as one. But it is a lot of pressure. Do I see myself as a role model? Yes and no. We're all human. I always try my best to make a good impression and to guide my fans and just be a good example. I'm trying to live up to the expectations.
You were a first-time voter recently. How did that feel?
It was surreal because I realised my voice matters; I can make a difference. For me, to have a platform to basically promote going out and voting, especially for the younger generation, was so important. A lot of times young people feel like they have no voice or no power, but really, they have a lot of power and they can make a difference and their vote does count.
Your Instagram feed is amazing because it's so positive and inspirational. You say: Being happy is kinda my thing. What makes you happy at the moment?
I think school makes me happy, although it does add stress. I've always wanted to go to college. And the fact that I can still go and continue to keep up with my work is truly a blessing. My family and my friends all make me happy. I just count my blessings, and I'm just grateful to be where I am today.
It seems that you've been working for such a long time. I mean, since you were a tiny little girl, you just seem to have been working and working. Aren’t you ever exhausted?
Absolutely! I mean, I've been working since I was nine years old and it's crazy. There are times where I feel I just cannot work today, I’m mentally exhausted and I need to take a break. I just have to listen to myself and let my body rest and do whatever, like watch TV or have a me day.
You have so many talents – singing, dancing and acting. What’s most important to you and where do you see yourself heading?
I'm just a performer in general, so if I'm performing on stage or in front of a camera, or writing something, I think I'm going to be happy. That's always what I'm striving for – just to do what makes me happy.
Everybody loves the way your mother has always stood up for you. How is Dr Holly doing?
She’s great. She came to visit me a week ago because I really missed her. It was so very sweet of her in the midst of everything to come out to just spend some time with me. She went back home yesterday, but she's doing great. She is one of my role models, honestly. Dance mom Holly is the best!
Watch Nia in all new episodes of The Bold and The Beautiful weekdays on Eva (DStv channel 141) at 17:30 and 23:30 with a binge-worthy omnibus on Saturdays at 16:00 and Sundays at 23:00.