There she was, front and center.

Making herself the face of her brand was a bold choice – and a deliberate one. In a campaign photo, Erica Watson stares beyond the camera with one hand placed on her hip. She’s surrounded by a group of women of various shades and sizes.

The campaign advertises her new cosmetic collection, limited-edition makeup sold exclusively by Chicago-based Nena Brands for the holidays; it’s called “Fierce.”

“To see me, the girl in front who is bigger than all of [her models] say ‘Yep, I’m here. I’m fierce, and I want you all to embrace who you are just like I am,’” had an immeasurable impact on fans of the makeup collection, Watson said.

“Fierce,” a new cosmetic collection exclusively sold through Nena Cosmetics. It was created by Erica Watson (center). | Photo by Tiffany Hunter

“Fierce” features four highlighters, a lip gloss and mascara. But at its centerpiece are four signature lipsticks: Sugar, a flirty pink; Spice, a deep red; Nice, a versatile nude; and Naughty, a sultry plum. The names may sound familiar, she said.

Her inspiration for “Fierce” was the women she grew up with in Hyde Park. “When I was a little girl ‘What Are Little Girls Made Of’ was my favorite nursery rhyme, but I wasn’t the normal little girl where it was just sugar and spice and everything nice. There was a little naughty in the mix,” Watson recalled.

After attending Kenwood Academy, she earned two degrees in film from Columbia College Chicago. She’s had roles on Showtime’s “The Chi” and on Fox’s “Empire” in addition to directing film and theater projects, screenplay writing and performing standup comedy.

Cosmetics wasn’t a predictable step in the career she’s building in the entertainment industry. And Watson is the first to admit her go-to look doesn’t always involve a face full of makeup. But that’s why she thinks the collection works: she’s relatable.

“I feel like there’s something about me that the average, everyday woman can relate to, no matter what they look like,” Watson said. “Skinny girls love me. Big girls love me. Black girls love me. White girls, Latinos – it’s like I’m everybody’s best friend.”

“Fierce” is available online and at the Fashion Outlets of Chicago in the Nena Brand store. Watson will debut a new capsule cosmetic collection next year.