UCLA gymnasts Nia Dennis, Margzetta Frazier bring Black excellence to the floor

Dennis and Frazier went viral for their joyful floor routines. They speak to ABC News anchor Kenneth Moton about inspiring other young athletes.
7:26 | 03/31/21

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:

{{nextVideo.title}}

{{nextVideo.description}}

Skip to this video now

Now Playing:

{{currentVideo.title}}

Comments
Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for UCLA gymnasts Nia Dennis, Margzetta Frazier bring Black excellence to the floor
The sport of gymnastics is very much seen as a very rigid for generations it promoted a Russian balletic, classical body type. That's who was dominating the sport of gymnastics. Reporter: Three-time olympian Dominique barrier becoming the first black gymnast to win a gold medal. If you came into the sport like I did in the '80s, bow legs and muscular physique, you were penalized for something you were born with. If you were going to try to express yourself, trust me, you were deducted for that. It's a subjective support, it's a political sport. I lived a childhood in the sport of gymnastics in so much fear, in so much intimidation. Dominique dawes -- Reporter: 1996, 19-year-old dawes stepped onto the floor of the usa gymnastics national championships. That was a little bit more of a classical routine, which is not my strong suit. We chose that because that was playing to the judges. It's not playing to my fans. Reporter: Dawes, who won a bronze medal at the olympics for the same routine. Never in my wildest dreams would I see hip-hop, pop, soul music used at the olympic games. However, it's something I believe could be on the horizon. Before I go on, I shut everything off. Except for which of my 18 personalities do I want to be today? And I present, and I step onto the floor. it's the floor exercise, but it's a stage to me. I'm reaching potentially millions of people. Reporter: More than 15 million, to be exact. UCLA gymnast markzeta Frazier and Nia Davis going viral with floor exercises celebrating black culture. Markzeta joining rhythm nation. Reporter: Nia throwing up a fist to Kendrick. We started with Kendrick Lamar because he's a huge activist in his music and I wanted to try to bring the same message through dance, gymnastics. Your routines are born out of what was happening in society? I had shoulder surgery in that's around the time when all the protests were happening. So I definitely wanted to create a floor routine that was a reflection of what was going on and how I was impacted. The title of this routine, I wanted to call it "The culture." I'm like, how do I bring so much of the black culture in 1:30? When people see your routines, I think there's a surprise element about it. Because they're like, oh my god, they did that. And the word "Audacity" comes up. Like, who gave you permission? Did you give it to yourself? I've definitely given myself the audacity to do these floor routines that best suit me. But I would say, UCLA gymnastics gave me the opening. Reporter: For years, the UCLA gymnastics program has championed and embraced each athlete's personality. In 2019, caylen Ohashi's routine broke the internet. The gymnasts having the courage to express their true selves and choose music that they grew up with is a huge step, when gymnastics is such a cutthroat, very strict sport. I've been doing gymnastics since I was 4 years old. It has its highs and definitely has its lows. Taught me so many life lessons that made me stronger as a black woman. For me, the biggest thing was hair. My hair was always natural for me through most of my career. My hair was always sticking up or it was always poofy. And my teammates always, can I touch it? You're in a white-dominated sport, you're a couple of black girls who said, I'm going to come up here, change the game. Was it tough? Being a black woman in general, you always know that you have to raise the bar for yourself. Higher than most. To get half as far as your white counterparts. I've been called ghetto, ratchet, like, this is not gymnastics. And of course, why is this black excellence, and why does it have to be black excellence, why does it have to be color? To say, you don't see color means you don't see me, you don't see me fully. How do you shake it off? To shake it off you have to let it on you first. Growing up, the style of my gymnasties, it was always very, very strong. The other girls would get elegant, poised, artistic, graceful. Is there a little sadness to it? It stings a little. But what's most important is that I know that I'm graceful and beautiful. And those are just other people's opinions. And it is a subjective sport that I did sign up for. Reporter: While markzeta and Nia rock the world of collegial gymnastics, others are speaking up on a range of issues. Simone Biles, the most decorated gymnast in history, using her platform to push for equality. I love the fact that Simone Biles can be as outspoken and truthful as she is today. I would say, keep it up. Young athletes need to see people that are not going to be controlled by the system. We do need to break the rigidity of the sport of we need to learn to embrace people's differences. Embrace the messages that them to put out. Also embracing different body types. I cannot wait for a day in the sport of where you're not deducted for something that you have absolutely no control over. Reporter: The two college students are taking their activism further than their floor routines. They upgrade a black excellence meet hosted by UCLA. To compete and feeling supported and loved for a matter that is serious to us and to the rest of society, it means everything. My message is to be your most authentic self. This was my most authentic self, this floor routine this hip-hop routine. I want everybody to be inspired to be their most authentic self. Gymnastics is such a small, - minuscule part of what they're that's simply the plate. The meal on top is the activism. It's the way we dance, it's the smiles we bring people. Will you see what you're doing in the olympics? Hopefully. I hope we have inspired somebody to go out there and do a hip-hop routine at the olympics. It's so much fun to watch, why wouldn't you want to see that on the biggest stage? And a programming note. "Soul of a nation" airs next Tuesday evening, 10/9 central, only on ABC.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"duration":"7:26","description":"Dennis and Frazier went viral for their joyful floor routines. They speak to ABC News anchor Kenneth Moton about inspiring other young athletes.","mediaType":"default","section":"ABCNews/Nightline","id":"76782538","title":"UCLA gymnasts Nia Dennis, Margzetta Frazier bring Black excellence to the floor","url":"/Nightline/video/ucla-gymnasts-nia-dennis-margzetta-frazier-bring-black-76782538"}