Backstage Notes: Nastia was in Chicago promoting her new SuperGirl line of clothing; a pairing of Warner Bros. and JC Penny’s. We met in the chic Elysian Hotel in Chicago on August 6, 2010. In my research for the interview I discovered that Nastia and Gold Medalist Evan Lysacek are very good friends. I interviewed Evan this past May as he is from my hometown of Naperville. Beautiful, with a bubbly personality describe this champion who has chosen the path to help girls throughout the world. She talks about her family, the Olympics, the Supergirl Campaign, her Film /TV appearances and her inspiration.
Sarah Adamson: We’re chatting with Nastia Liukin who won the Gold Medal in the women’s gymnastics at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She earned a total of 5 medals at those games. She’s promoting an exciting new line, Supergirl, which is tied to Warner Bros. Company and JC Penney.
Hello Nastia, can you tell us about the other medals that you won and your feelings after you tied Mary Lou Retton and Shannon Miller’s record?
Nastia Liukin: Yes, thank you for having me! The whole Beijing experience was absolutely incredible. Just being there and representing my country was a huge honor. That was my dream, to go to the Olympic games, but surpassing my dreams and winning the overall gold medal was more than I could have ever dreamed about. Then, of course, we won the team silver medal. I won the silver in the uneven bars, the balance beam and a bronze on the floor.
SA: Oh my goodness! My mother is a huge gymnastics fan and I’ve grown up watching the Olympics every year so I was right there cheering you on! I’m just thrilled today to be speaking with you. Your story is so incredible. Let’s inform our listeners and readers who may not know, that your mother and father are associated with the sport of gymnastics. Can you tell us a little bit about your mom and dad and why your dad became your coach?
NL: My dad went to the 1988 Olympic games and won two gold and two silver medals for the Soviet Union at the time and my mom was a rhythmic gymnast world champion. So, gymnastics has always been in my blood since the day I was born (laughs). My mom was actually my first coach and it just didn’t work out too well (laughs). She was just too much of a mom she couldn’t separate the mom and coach situation as well as my dad could. When we walk into the gym, he’s my coach and as soon as we walk out he’s my dad again. We’re able to really work well with that. They’ve been a huge part of my success. Without them, I wouldn’t be here today and have become the person that I am.
SA: It appears you have been so busy at the Olympics. Can you tell us how the match with Warner Bros., JCPenney and Supergirl came about and your involvement?
NL: After the 2008 Olympics I went on a 38-city tour of gymnastics superstars and that’s kind of where it started. I performed my uneven routine to the song, “Supergirl” by Saving Jane. It just got started from there. We got in contact with Warner Bros. and JCPenney’s headquarters are in Plano, Texas which is where I grew up, trained and lived so I think it really is a perfect match for this collection and the age range that we are gearing it at.
SA: Yes, I did listen to that song on the website. It is so much fun, I enjoyed it!
NL: It is! Like I said, it was 38 cities so I got to perform that all the time in front of thousands of people. It was a great few months of being able to celebrate our achievements that we had at the Olympic games and also to be able to be with each other and the teammates and travel all over the country.
SA: I have to tell you. I absolutely love the philosophy behind the Supergirl campaign. Empowerment for girls, not only to look cute, but to be smart and strong. I like the part about being a good friend as well. Could you expand on this idea for us?
NL: Exactly. With the Supergirl “S” shield it’s a very iconic symbol and brand. Boys have always had Superman and Batman and someone to look up to but for girls, I feel like we never really had that superhero to follow. I hope to inspire these girls. For me, everything came from a dream. That’s what I want to teach little kids that you have to dream big. You have to follow your dreams. I always wanted to go to the Olympic games. It took a lot of hard work but eventually, I got there and I was able to surpass those dreams and win the gold medal. I hope that when they wear these clothes they feel empowered like a superhero.
SA: That is so important. As a former elementary grade schoolteacher, myself, I have to commend you for promoting this area of children’s development. It is so important. I have to agree with you, I don’t think girls have the role models that they need today. You are going to be such a wonderful role model and I know you already are – so many people already love you. I really want to commend you on that, for being a positive role model and your efforts in choosing this path.
NL: Thanks, a lot really comes from my parents. I owe them a lot.
SA: That’s excellent. I also read that as part of your Supergirl tour you will provide motivational advice to the girls about achieving their goals.
NL: Right. Well, I’m very fortunate enough to be able to talk to all of the girls during the autograph signings before and after and just spend a little bit of time with them. For me, that’s really special. My fan base is this age and a lot younger than me. They’re the ones who really supported me throughout my entire career so now its kind of nice to turn around an meet these girls and share my message to them: to believe in themselves and go after their dreams – that is really important to me.
SA: Oh, that’s wonderful! You, know, it was very easy for me, last night, I went to the JCPenney online catalog, which is fantastic for all of our listeners, there is a wonderful video of Nastia promoting the clothing line. I see that we have some here in front of you. Could you tell us about the designs and your input?
NL: I had a lot of input in it. I’ve always designed my own competition leotards so I’ve always had a passion for this. With the Back to School Collection we geared it at a certain color pallet, which is black and white and gold and silver, which obviously represents the medals that I won in the Olympics. Then, pink, I guess, was my signature color during the Olympics. We really wanted this line to be very trendy and fashionable and for the girls to feel cute and comfortable. But we also wanted it to be affordable. So that’s something we were really gearing at.
SA: Oh, I love JCPenney’s and I always have for the kids growing up. What is not to like about pink (laughs)? Pink is the new black. It’s the power color for girls! A lot of boys are wearing it too! I’d like to talk a little bit about Evan Lysacek because I interviewed him in May in Naperville. He’s from my hometown; he’s our hometown hero! I know that you’re friends too, so this is great. You’re going to be performing October 3rd together in Texas!
NL: Yeah, we have a gymnastics and skating show together.
SA: That sounds so neat! Where can we go to learn more about that?
NL: You can go to both of our Facebook pages and there are links to that. It’s just a really cool event. We’re going to perform to live music and there is actually gymnastics equipment on the ice. It’s just a cool combination – they will be staking in between us and we have some group numbers as well. So, it’s a really fun show to be a part of.
SA: When I interviewed Evan, we talked about acting since I’m a film critic. I was wondering are you interested in acting at all?
NL: Yeah I am! I’ve made some appearances on “Gossip Girl,” “Make It or Break It” and I was in Stick It (2006) a few years ago. Its fun, gymnastics is obviously where my passion is and now, finding this new passion in creating this collection but yeah, I think it would be fun to do a little bit more of that.
SA: What is your favorite part about the Supergirl campaign?
NL: I think having the whole “S” shield. It’s on every piece of clothing. Its sometimes in discrete places but it think it’s also important for it to be part of everything. Like, you see on the knit pants it’s on the leg or on the back pockets in sequins. So, it’s kind of like a girly way to incorporate it all in there. One of my favorite pieces is the black, knit dress and there is a necklace attached to it that has the “S” shield. It’s blinged out, so it’s sparkly!
SA: Look at that! That’s just gorgeous. And the price points are so reasonable! I have a niece that I think I’m going to go shopping for (laughs). I noticed you’re wearing the “S” shield. Can girls get the jewelry?
NL: We’ll this necklace is actually attached to the dress but the necklace I’m wearing was actually a gift!
SA: Well, that’s great maybe you’ll be expanding into that (someday)! I just have some quick favorites now. One answer is fine!
SA: What is your favorite food?
SA: Oh, I love sushi! Favorite movie?
NL: Oh, gosh that’s a tough one. I love movies. I like The Holiday (2006). I do like the Twilight series too (laughs).
SA: Of course, what’s not to love about the Twilight series! What is your favorite book?
NL: “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. I read it before the Olympic games. I did the whole vision board and really believed in it.
SA: I have my vision board but it’s blank I really need to get on that!
NL: You need to get on that!
SA: Yes, (laughs). What about your hobbies?
NL: I do love to read and that also helps when I travel a lot. I’m on a lot of planes these days so it helps me not be too bored when I’m traveling by myself.
SA: Is there anything you’d like your fans to know about you?
NL: I’m just thankful for all their support because I couldn’t have done it without them! Not only in my clothing line but with my gymnastics career and whatever I continue to do. I just have a great fan base and I’m very thankful for that!
SA: That’s a wonderful answer. And listeners out there, she is such a gorgeous girl on top of all of this! Thank you so much for chatting with me today.
Sarah Adamson© August 8, 2010