Find Out Why The Notebook Is Her Favorite Romantic Movie…EVER.

Nyah Willis is a 5 foot 10 senior combo guard for the North Carolina A&T Aggies (@nyahwillis)

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in San Jose, CA. I lived there my whole life until I moved to the South for college. The majority of my family is in the California Bay Area but I also have family in Texas and New Jersey. Living in California was amazing. I would honestly describe it as a dream or a movie scene with beach days and perfect weather. Just hanging out with friends and going to In N Out Burger. Growing up, you don’t realize it until you move to a different state or a new location. It was definitely a great experience and I’m happy I’m from there.

Who did you look up to as a child?

My older sister and my mom. My mom was a very hard worker and she provided for me and my siblings. My sister was a very big part of my life, especially in sports. Seeing her be the great person that she is always inspired me.

Interview by Asante Benton-Bailey | Photos by Crystal at Picture Studios (@RentMyStudio)

Tell us about your transition from high school to college?

It was really drastic. Just the speed of the game. You have to develop and change quickly in order to be efficient on the college court. In high school, I had to be a factor for my team to win. Back then, you’re normally the best kid on your team or even the area but once you get to college, everyone is good. Everyone is as tall as you. Everyone can shoot as good as you. So I just had to learn how to play faster and use my skills differently.

What have you learned most from a loss or a win?

To be mentally tough. Not so much on the basketball court. Just in life. Sometimes in life, you know you’re gonna lose or win. You may win and feel like you lost. You may have lost and feel like you won. At the end of the day, you just have to be mentally tough and accept whatever the result is. I feel like playing basketball has given me that characteristic. I feel like more times than not, I try to stay strong in what I believe as far as my hopes, dreams and aspirations.

What made you decide to play basketball for North Carolina A&T?

I was previously at a different institution that just wasn’t a great fit for me. It was different from what I was comfortable with coming from California. I just wanted to get a different college experience as well as basketball experience. I decided to transfer and I’m so happy I found A&T because I absolutely love it.

Is it difficult balancing school and basketball?

Extremely difficult. If there is a word bigger than extreme [then that’s what I would use to describe it]. Long hours for practice. Long hours for class trying to just maintain, do your homework and study. But also making sure you are getting your body rest and taking care of yourself as well. It is extremely difficult to maintain both but you always find a way to get it done.

Do you feel that North Carolina A&T is supportive in that way?

I do believe so. Yes. I have a lot of professors that are understanding and acknowledge that we are athletes.

Do you have any rivalries on the court?

I would say as a team, we have a rivalry with North Carolina Central of course. I don’t think it’s much of a rivalry, because Aggies do and Aggies win but that’s just one that I could think of. I don’t have any personal rivalries.

Interview by Asante Benton-Bailey | Photos by Crystal at Picture Studios (@RentMyStudio)

What are the achievements that you are the most proud of?

Probably just receiving a Division One scholarship. That’s something I have been working for my whole life. I’m twenty one years old but ever since I was a kid, that was a goal. To receive a scholarship and go to college debt free along with traveling and playing other schools is really cool. Other basketball accolades would be scoring 1000 (+/-) career points in high school. But really, just making it to the level I’m at is what I’m most proud of.

What advice would you give to other black women like yourself?

It seems repetitive and very simple but I would say never give up. Even if you feel like you’re in the darkest time of your life, never give up. Personally, I didn’t know what was going to happen when I decided to transfer. I didn’t know what God had in store for me but I never gave up. I kept working out and just hoped I would have another opportunity. So I would tell just tell everyone around me to never give up and keep working for what you want.

Who is Winston Hill and how did you meet?

He is my boyfriend. We met at my previous institution. He was an anchor for me because he was from the South and I was a California girl. He actually showed me around the area and got me comfortable and accustomed to it. He happens to play basketball as well so it just kind of felt like God’s will and God’s timing. At that point in my life, I was a little bit down. Not enjoying school there and just ready to leave but he kind of made everything better. We eventually started dating and kind of blew up as a basketball couple on TikTok (@winstonandnyah).

How is his playing style different than your own?

He is a 6’9″ post. I’m a combo guard, so I do a lot more dribbling, shooting and passing. Winston is a back you down post up player that gets rebounds. He can dunk and I cannot so we’re complete opposites on the court.

What do you and Winston both like more than basketball?

I would probably just say enjoying each other’s company and relaxing because we’re busy all of the time. We’re always working out and pushing our bodies but we do enjoy traveling to new places and trying new foods. We plan to go to Florida for Spring Break and just be normal, spontaneous and adventurous.

Interview by Asante Benton-Bailey | Makeup by Crystal at Picture Studios (@RentMyStudio)

Which pair of shoes could you not go without?

My favorite pair of shoes are my olive green Nike dunks. I cannot go without those. They are definitely my favorites but I also could not go without my Crocs.

What’s your favorite food for dessert?

A red velvet bundt cake but specifically from Nothing Bundt Cake. It has to be from Bundt Cake. I also like strawberry shortcake!

What’s your favorite date night spot?

My favorite date night spot is Kyoto Palace. I love hibachi. Just the scene of having the food cooked in front of you is just so much fun and I love going there for date night.

Interview by Asante Benton-Bailey | Photos by Crystal at Picture Studios (@RentMyStudio)

Who is your favorite music artist right now?

Right now, it would probably be SZA. I have listened to her album on repeat every single day. As of this moment…today…right now…I would say SZA but it changes probably every day.

What’s the best love song of all time?

I would have to say “Love” by Keyshia Cole. I don’t why but every time I hear it I sing my heart out like it’s been broken and shattered. I don’t know, that song just does it for me every time.

Who is your favorite actor or actress?

Taraji P Henson. I love her energy, her style and her confidence. I LOVE watching her act.

What’s the most romantic movie of all time?

The Notebook. It’s a beautiful movie. It’s the one where he builds the house for her. Yes. Love that movie! That’s definitely my favorite movie. Oh my gosh. It’s so romantic.

Interview by Asante Benton-Bailey | Makeup by Crystal at Picture Studios (@RentMyStudio)