Iyanna Jackson Is Your 2021 Cover Model Search Winner!
When we asked Iyanna Jackson how she’d react if she won this year’s Cover Model Search, she told us to expect a tear or two of joy. Well, we sure hope she’s not crying all over her keyboard right now because we’re super-thrilled to congratulate Iyanna as Dance Spirit’s 2021 Cover Model Search winner!
Before she returned to her busy life at New York University Tisch School of the Arts, we caught up with Iyanna to get the scoop on what she’s been doing since our photo shoot, her goals for the upcoming year, and her favorite part about being in the contest.
What have you been up to since we last spoke?
Mainly just school, dance and rehearsing a lot for Tisch Dance Works, which is when the students get to choreograph pieces and perform in pieces choreographed by other students. I also just recently celebrated my 19th birthday.
What was it like going through the Cover Model Search voting period?
I was honestly nervous all the time. My friends would talk about it every time they saw me. It’s also been really nice to feel love and support from friends and family. I was very surprised to see even some of the people who I haven’t spoken to in years reaching out and letting me know that they voted for me. I felt very loved.
Is there anyone in particular who was a die-hard supporter?
My best friend, my sister and my parents, of course. Also my whole class at NYU would show me their votes every day.
Have you gained any new supporters since the announcement?
I’ve definitely gotten a lot of messages from new people congratulating me and letting me know that they read my article. I even heard from people who I’ve danced with in the past and Black-owned studios.
Did you have a strategy on how you’d get the word out?
It kind of happened naturally. I’d post about it and then my friends would talk about it to their friends. A lot of my friends’ mothers posted about it on their Facebook pages, as well, so that helped a lot.
What are your goals for 2022?
I want to create another film. I also want to teach a lot of workshops at different studios in my hometown. I also want to get my music out there because I’ve been really shy and gatekeeping on music. “Going for it” is my motto for the next year.
Any dance-specific goals?
I’d say not to be so shy. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from my teachers on that, so my overall dance goal is definitely overcoming that fear and not being so shy. Once I get out of my head, I’ll be able to do it all.
What was your favorite part of the CMS experience?
The photo shoot! It definitely made it feel surreal. It was so awesome. I haven’t taken a real dance photo shoot in—that was actually my first one, and it was so much fun! Even watching Reed and Kayla, I was so amazed. It was like a dream for me. I thought the whole photo shoot day was awesome, even just eating food and talking.
What was it like to meet and get to know the other finalists?
I’ve actually watched Kayla before, and I didn’t even know she was a part of the top three finalists until I read the list and I was fangirling. It was really cool to meet both of them, and I was so wowed to see Reed on pointe. That was so cool to me, especially because I’m not the best pointe dancer in the world. They’re both really amazing and really amazing people outside of the dance world. They were such nice, genuine and good-hearted people.
What would you say to anyone who wants to enter the Cover Model Search in the future?
Just go for it! Even if you don’t win, you still gain so much from it beyond exposure, new connections and great people to meet. Going through the whole experience itself is amazing. It’s never really about the end result or who wins, as much as it is about just doing it for yourself and boosting your self-esteem and confidence.
What would your reaction be if you won this contest?
The first thing I’m gonna do is cry! I told my friends I’d take them all out to get boba and go out to eat or something because at the end of the day, it’s their votes that count. If I win, I’m definitely gonna cry and scream.
Being a Dance Spirit Cover Model Search finalist has been more than a dream to me. Not only was it an amazing experience, but was a huge educator, as well. It taught me self-motivation, endless ways on how to support, and lastly, love. I am forever grateful to have been part of such an amazing opportunity. I want to send a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone. To the people who I’ve known for years running to the people who I didn’t know showing their support. Not only did I get to be a part of something with such amazing artists such as Kayla Mak and Reed Henry, but I also was able to meet beautiful new people. Thank you to my instructors, starting all the way from adolescence until now, at BB Dance Productions, Charlotte Performing Arts, Miller Street Dance Academy, Myers Park Company, and Havilah Dance Company for making me the dancer I am today. Thank you to my amazing sisters, friends, Anthony, family, and, especially, parents for constantly showing me your ongoing love and support. Thank you to the staff and my friends from NYU Tisch Dance for making this voting experience so much fun. Lastly, the biggest thank-you to Dance Spirit staff for making this whole experience possible—it truly has been such a dream come true. Thank you all, and I will always hold this, and all of your support, close to my heart. Sending love to you all!