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Nicole Byer was confident and bubbly as soon as she took the stage at Goldstein Auditorium. Her smile was contagious and the audience buzzed with excitement as she took her place in the hot seat opposite student moderator Denise Magny, a Syracuse University senior.
Byer is an actress, comedian, and author best known for her role as the host of “Nailed It!”, a Netflix original baking competition show. Some attendees who asked Byer also recognized her from MTV’s “Girl Code.” She came to SU for a Q&A on Tuesday night.
Byer addressed Magny and the audience familiarly. She used her hands to answer questions, gave brief impressions of famous TV personalities and former castmates, and made silly faces between answering questions. League senior Tereyna Ancira said her mother encouraged her to watch Byer speak. Seeing her in person, Ancira said, was surreal.
“It’s like going to a concert and then seeing artists you like, but it’s surreal to see them on stage and actually exist,” Ancira said.
Byer spoke to SU students for an hour, answering pre-written questions from Magny and those from the audience. Byer was charismatic and likeable, riffing with the crowd as she tried to remember the name of a Rihanna song she liked or enjoying the likes of a few audience members on TV shows. At Magny’s request, Byer also opened up about her upbringing and getting into acting, projects she’s worked on recently, and what she sees as her future.
A highlight of the night came when Byer spoke candidly about what it’s like to be a black woman in Hollywood. As an actress, she punctuated her explanation with jokes — which got a lot of laughs — but wasn’t afraid to be honest.
“The auditions are screwed up. They are terrible,” Byer said. “So you walk into a room, there are eight women who look like you, just like fat women who are black in jewel tones. And you have to be delusional and be like, ‘I’m better than these fats, they’re gonna want this fat.'”
The event, presented by the Women’s Leadership Initiative in partnership with the student union, placed particular emphasis on confidence, representation and femininity in honor of Women’s History Month. Byer said she doesn’t want to act as a representative of all the fat black women in the world, but finds it helpful to instill confidence in people on an individual level. Her book, “#VERYFAT #VERYBRAVE: The Fat Girl’s Guide to Being #Brave and Not a Dejected, Melancholy, Down-in-the-Dumps Weeping Fat Girl in a Bikini,” was a vehicle through which she did just that. , she mentioned.
Byer also gave general advice on how to be confident. She said no particular moment in her life inspired her confident attitude, but she gave the audience some tips for embracing who they are and why it’s important to practice self-love.
“Why not just be confident?” says Byer. “It takes more energy to be sad, and I think it takes more energy to wonder why you’re in the room, because if you’re in a room of people you admire and you have a little impostor syndrome, why? Someone else believes you belong in this room, someone else made this choice for you to be in this room, so why would you dump that person and just do your shit?
At the end of the night, Byer stopped to take pictures with fans who remained behind. She also spoke to staff members at the event and told jokes about where she was going for dinner, referring to a nearby Ruby Tuesday’s and McDonald’s.
Magny, who is majoring in biology, said she was glad to have broadened her horizons by interviewing Byer. As a student on the STEM side of SU, Magny said tonight’s event was an opportunity for her to branch out, and she’s glad she did. She said she was also happy to have had a learning moment with Byer on stage.
“My favorite part was when I said ‘plus size.’ “I’m empowered to say the word ‘big’ if people feel comfortable, so I think it was a humbling moment for me and I continue to grow in confidence.”
Published on March 30, 2022 at 00:39