Out of more than 170 entries from 44 countries, Bahamian twelfth grader Sierra Blair captured first runner-up in the Girls’ Voices at Home video challenge – a competition which invited young women aged 13 to 26 to share how they are staying strong and continuing their education during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As first runner-up, Blair receives a $500 cash scholarship from the Seattle, Washington, organisation. A 21-year-old college student identified only as Debrah A from the Philippines placed first, winning a $1,000 scholarship.
“Although I didn’t place first, I was over the moon happy since it was my first-ever video competition and I’ve only edited eight videos since I picked up the skill in March, during the lockdown,” said Blair.
The 16-year-old developed her storytelling skill as a children’s author. She launched her first book, Roman & His Mean Family, on Amazon when she was only 13. Blair followed that up with her second book, Roman & The Pink Flamingos in 2018. Prior to the pandemic, it was sold at the Atlantis Resort, Ardastra Gardens and to the Ministry of Education.
Blair, who aspires to become a chef, developed her video editing skills after launching her Sierra & Roman’s Cooking Show on YouTube in March. Roman is her four-year-old brother.
“After posting the first episode of my show, my video editor’s computer crashed. I had to take matters into my own hands and learn how to edit my own videos if I wanted to continue the show, which I most definitely wanted to do,” said Blair.
“Learning to edit videos was born out of necessity not really an interest, but after editing the second show I thought this was a really cool skill.”
Last month, Blair stumbled upon the competition’s Facebook and Instagram ads.
For several days, Blair mulled over the video project. Once she decided to enter, it took about a week to draft her script and shoot video clips.
“I tried not to hype it up too much in my mind. I know from first-hand experience when you think you’re going to win something and you don’t that can be disappointing, soul-crushing even,” said the private school student.
“My advice to other students would be to not let fear of failure hold them back from competing. I would recommend competing globally because you have anonymity. Nobody knows you didn’t win unless you tell them.”
Sierra Blair, who finished as first runner-up in a worldwide video competition. Photo: Precision Media