Sienna Mae Gomez is Taking TikTok by Storm
Written by Vaughn Eric Stewart
If you play close attention to Sienna Mae Gomez’s message you will hear a young woman who’s about spreading love, and building confidence for herself and the world. That certainly has to be why she’s so popular, and more importantly, why she deserves that popularity.
When and how did you get into competitive dancing?
I started dancing competitively five years ago for a studio in my hometown. I took recreation dance classes for several years before being asked to audition for “Company” (the competitive program). I made it that first year and didn’t look back! I’m no longer part of Company just given how crazy my schedule is right now, but I try to get onto the dance floor and train at least a few nights a week in either my hometown or in LA, depending on where I am.
“Wyndee McGovern told me that I was born to stand out.”
What was you first big break/win as a dancer?
I have several National titles and awards but my first big “personal win” as a dancer came in 2019 at a regional dance competition. I was called on stage during awards by one of the judges, Wyndee McGovern. She presented me with a coveted award unique to that competition for my stage presence and power – each of the judges could call out one specific person from the competition. She told me, “You were born to stand out. Have confidence in who you are and what you bring to this stage because I promise, you will be a star.” I literally cried on stage because here was this woman who zoned in on and called out my biggest insecurity: I had spent years comparing myself to my tall, thin friends and always felt so short and big next to them. That day – her words on that stage in front of all of my peers – released me from whatever that insecurity was. That’s the moment I started embracing what made me different – my skin color, my big muscular legs, my curvy figure – and started really loving myself for who I am.
Explain how your first viral TikTok video of you dancing in the kitchen came about. Why do you think it went viral?
I had been posting content to what’s now my second TikTok account (@siennamaegomezz) since late-2019 but just wasn’t having very much fun with it because to be honest, I think I was trying too hard to get a video to go viral. On a whim, I created @siennamae as a spam account for eight of my closest friends and that night posted that first video as a joke. I didn’t realize that the settings were public, not private, and woke up the next morning to the video going viral. I literally had just finished a bowl of ice cream, put the bowl in the sink, and hit record on my phone. Earlier in the day I had watched a few videos of super skinny girls saying they weren’t going to eat or felt fat and I guess I felt inspired to show off my tummy after finishing dinner and ice cream with my family. We were all in the kitchen and everyone was laughing at me because I was just having fun with it. You can even see my dad’s hand come in at the end! I think that’s why it went viral to be honest. It was silly, and messy and fun and I think people are craving that kind of content, especially during quarantine.
What did you think when Lizzo copied one of your dances?
I was in shock when Lizzo copied my dance! I loved that she wrote in the caption, “Body positivity has entered the chat!” The night she posted it I was driving back from the beach with some friends and my mom and dad Facetimed me and started recording me, so I knew something was happening. Then my dad played Lizzo’s video and all of us started screaming in the car! I got home and immediately dueted and posted it on TikTok. Lizzo is still someone I hope to meet in person one day.
Why is it important to encourage self-love and body positivity in your TikTok videos?
My parents always taught me that living in authenticity happens when who you are on the inside mirrors who you are on the outside; that when those two things are in alignment, it makes life much easier. Because I’m on a journey of finding self-love and body confidence myself, it only makes sense that that’s part of what I post on TikTok. People who see me on social media see the real me, not some version of me. There are days I struggle just like everyone else, and I like to be real and honest about that. When I’m feeling confident, I post about it because I’m hoping it will inspire someone else who maybe needed that encouragement, validation, laugh or hope. That’s what I look for when I go on TikTok too.
How do you overcome challenging days where you might feel self-doubt or insecurities?
When I feel insecure or am having a challenging day I try to shift my mindset by focusing in on what I like about myself – like my strong legs. I’ll go to a dance class and push myself until I’m absolutely sweaty, just because my legs are strong and I know I can. When I walk out of class and my legs are shaky, I know I’m not just building muscle, but also building confidence. I think being active – getting out of the house, exercising, doing something you love – is honestly so great for building confidence and the best way to get negative thoughts and emotions out of your head.
“I was in shock when Lizzo copied my dance!”
What does it mean to you to be highlighted as a young trailblazer and voice of change?
Just a few weeks after my first video went viral, TikTok reached out and told me they would like to include me as one of 12 “Trailblazers” in the Latinx community. I only had 1 or 2 million followers then, and they said they had no doubt that I was on my way to becoming one of Gen Z’s Latinx digital entertainment leaders. Then in December, they recognized me again as a “Voice of Change” in their 2020 “Top 100” list. Both designations mean so much to me. The Trailblazer award really made me feel validated, like I had “made it” on the TikTok app and was representing for so many other people. The Voice of Change designation made me feel proud. It’s not easy being vulnerable on TikTok but that’s what I try to do with my content: to show that you don’t have to be “perfect” to be powerful, or be skinny with a face of makeup to be beautiful. Being considered as a trailblazer and voice of change for our generation is something I definitely do not take lightly.
Do you feel you have a responsibility to inspire your followers?
Yes, but I also feel I have a responsibility to myself. I make content that I like – that inspires me – because to be honest, I’ve learned the hard way that I’ll never inspire everyone who watches me. Sometimes I think people forget that I’m just a regular 17-year old girl, who has emotions and feelings. When I get negative comments – which I do a lot – I try to just tune them out, or write in my journal, or take a drive and play really loud music, or go get a hug and reassurance from my mom or dad or one of my close friends. I’ve learned that what matters most is that I’m doing what brings me joy and inspiration. Hopefully that comes through and people will want to be part of it. If they don’t, then they will unfollow me. Last November, I won seven awards from TikTok Room including “Best Role Model”, “Kindest TikToker”, “Most Positive” and “Least Problematic Female.” Those awards meant so much to me because what I hope it showed my fans, especially young girls, is that being kind is always better than being dramatic. If I can inspire kindness and positivity and love, then that’s what matters to me!
What positive impact would you like to make in the world?
The biggest message I want people to take away from my content is that they are beautiful just the way they are and that we are all struggling in our own ways – meaning, no one is “perfect” despite what is depicted on social media. I think many people feel alone in their struggles – whether that’s struggling to accept themselves or their body, eating, friends, etc. I want people to feel like they aren’t alone, and that it’s okay to share your insecurities (like I share mine).
Can you tell us about your new partnership with Maybelline?
I am so honored and excited to be Maybelline’s newest ambassador. It’s the first time in Maybelline history that they have enlisted a Gen Z, Latinx, digital-first talent for a long-term partnership. I love that they are okay that I like being a little more “natural” looking and also appreciate that our very first campaign together was angled more at teaching young girls how to properly apply makeup vs. assuming that they already knew how (with celebrity makeup artist Ariel Tejada on Maybelline’s YouTube channel). My values and Maybelline’s really align: that you are beautiful the way you are. I especially love their global cause initiative around mental health, called Brave Together, and am looking forward to supporting that. I’m also really excited about hopefully attending New York Fashion Week this year. I LOVE getting dressed up and going to events, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it happens!
“Being kind is always better than being dramatic.”
Outside of TikTok and dance, what hobbies and activities do you do in your free time?
I love traveling and adventuring in the outdoors with my family and friends – my favorite trip ever was to Cuba a few years ago; it was so educational for me! I also love going to Hawaii and was fortunate to get to go a few months ago, following COVID protocols of course, for a photo shoot with a Hawaii-based clothing company. I love going to the beach to swim, tan, journal or even paint. I also love hanging out with my best friends at home and just being silly and am so lucky to live down the street from my very best friends, Jack and James Wright, who are also fellow creators. We’ll get together with the high school friends in our “pod” and spend hours laughing, talking, and making videos. Lots of those videos don’t even end up on TikTok. We just keep them for us.
Our magazine is called Cool America — what do you think is cool about America?
So many things are cool about America! Music, opportunity, pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks, Los Angeles! I’m in love with LA to be honest! I also love the cultural diversity here. My Dad’s dad was from Mexico and my my mom’s grandpa was from the Ukraine. Both families trace ancestors to Europe, Latin America and Africa! We wouldn’t be America without this cultural diversity. I know we have our issues in America, but if you stop to think about it, most Americans have some blood line that came from somewhere else at some point. How cool is that?