…In this day and age of instant gratification you quickly realise a career in acting isn’t “instant”. Recognition doesn’t come easily and the irony of having the camera and attention on your for the screen is you will be invisible outside of the set for the most part. To further contradict this career is, to do well you have to be humble. Setting your ego aside will be the best thing you can do to survive otherwise it will be a quick burn. I believe the best actors are the ones who are the most humble in person.
As a part of my interview series with popular culture stars, I had the pleasure of interviewing Natalie Diana Heslop. Natalie was born in Camperdown NSW, Australia. As a child she performed in folklore dances for more than a decade, and learned to draw during classes at the National Gallery of Vic. She can speak Serbian, German and Arabic. She is a passionate artist with a cultural hybrid of Slavic and British eccentricity with a spiritual beauty and sensual approach to life. Her first professional appearance was as a featured extra for Young Lions(2002), in which her character spoke German, however due to a jealous acting partner at the time, didn’t turn up to set on the second day, and instead chose to focus on modeling and fashion as a career path. During this time she hosted a fashion show alongside Vlade Divac and Mel B on stage for charity. After a 7 year gap from acting she returned to the screen with a performance as a gypsy fortune teller in Dream of a Shadow (2016) that became a deleted scene. Being a strong entrepreneur and socialite that she is, turned her sights to the local Bollywood industry and was cast in a further 4 Indian films. Like a lot of local talent she did her time as a regular on Neighbours (1985) playing a Nurse. After many compliments about her beautiful skin and her face, once even being dubbed the bold and the beautiful one, she decided to take a risk when the opportunity arose for a Playboy magazine shoot. And it paid off, when she became the centerfold in the Oct. 2018 S.A. edition. This subsequently has lead to a string of feature film roles.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I initially pursued acting through an intro to acting to camera course purely for confidence building, however I realised I enjoyed acting and the challenge of being vulnerable to the camera. Acting didn’t seem so out of the question in hindsight as I had danced weekly in cultural dance (folklore) from the age of 6 through to 16, sang in a choir during my teens at highschool, taken piano lessons as a child and along with an interest in learning languages acting was naturally an extension of my creative expression.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
I have a few interesting stories. To share something different however I will go back to a time when I was auditioning for a regular gig at a gothic Melbourne theatre restaurant. My chosen song to sing at the audition was called, “Voodoo Child” by Rogue Traders and sung by Natalie Bassingwaithe. By chance I happened to meet the actual singer, Natalie Bassingwaithe at a film festival in Sydney as a mutual friend introduced me to her. In my excitement to meet her I took the opportunity to let Natalie know I had auditioned to her song, Voodoo Child, I don’t think Natalie was particularly amused I had auditioned to her song and needless to say I didn’t get the role. My win was noticing the beauty of synchronicity in these two connected experiences.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Several years ago I received the opportunity to feature in an international Punjabi Pollywood film however I was given the script just a few hours before shooting in which I was to memorise a short two paragraph dialogue in Punjabi. I managed to get the first paragraph correct, the director noticing my struggle in the second paragraph advised me to keep going with my mistakes and speak gibberish as I would have the opportunity to dub with voice over work post edit. After each take the crew would erupt in laughter and I must admit it was funny. In this experience I learnt some handy Punjabi and that gibberish is good!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
“I, Portrait”, an erotic thriller 90s vibe feature film I play a lead role in will be distributed onto the Amazon Prime network by the end of 2019. I have just finished a role in a documentary and also feature film, “Cult Girls” where I play a nun will be screened at Monster Film Fest in October.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
An interesting person I have interacted with was a director of an art house film due to his abstract storyline for an arthouse silent film he created in which I had the opportunity and joy to be part of called “Joy Ride”. For my role, I agreed to smoke 3–4 cigars in a smashed up car in the space of 1–2 hours with a horse trying to pull the broken down car in the fashion of a carriage.
The jockey of the horse in the film was instructed to scream at the horse in his frustration at the lack of pull and in one scene the horse who must have also been frustrated went up on its hind legs, violently shook off it’s harness which went flying into the air and narrowly missed the petite jockey who was by the window of my car and of course that was the take that made the film.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
In this day and age of instant gratification you quickly realise a career in acting isn’t “instant”. Recognition doesn’t come easily and the irony of having the camera and attention on your for the screen is you will be invisible outside of the set for the most part. To further contradict this career is, to do well you have to be humble. Setting your ego aside will be the best thing you can do to survive otherwise it will be a quick burn. I believe the best actors are the ones who are the most humble in person.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Practical experience and being on set is the greatest teacher however you still do really need to find a method that works for you. Having re-entered the game a little later in life I thought I don’t have time to study and was advised to throw myself into every suitable short or indy film. I discovered that doesn’t cut it. After applying myself to many different classes from different teachers and styles I have eventually found the one that works for me as this method approaches on improving an individual in expressing emotions on a physiological and physical level and not on a theory level.
2. You need to keep the peace on set, you never know if your colleague could become a director and have you in mind to cast in their film. Or whether the director on a student film gets picked up by a big production house. In this industry like many others you will get at least half of your work through who you know.
3. It doesn’t hurt to try and express your opinion on an approach or line in a scene or storyline. In the beginning I thought it was, do your lines as they are and don’t change a thing. Now with experience, I trust my intuition in suggesting any changes if suitable.
4. At the end of the day acting is work and your job is to make the director’s job as easy as possible, anything else you obtain in job satisfaction is a bonus but should not be your main priority.
5. Trust your gut, if something doesn’t feel right move on.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
The unexamined life is not worth living, Socrates.
Acting aside, this quote is fundamental to every individual as we need to be able to put our biased, experiences and judgements aside to give any person or situation a fair chance. As actors we can’t be true to any scenario if we let our own life experience cloud our reactions therefore it is imperative we dissect and reflect on our own experiences in order to push aside what may be holding us back in being true to a scene.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Nathan Hill an award winning Melbourne indie filmmaker, director, writer and actor helped shape and guide me to the next level after the first initial years of cutting my teeth in the industry and notbaly saved me from getting involved with some unfavourable indy film groups. After a year of our kindred friendship Nathan became inspired by some of my life experience and abilities which led Nathan to carve out the concept to his 9th feature film, “I, Portrait”. I play the lead role of “Carmen McKenna” a character very much based on my interests and outlook on life, also to note Nathan Hill plays my husband Julian in the film.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Most of my favourite people in the Entertainment industry are the great classics have long passed like Grace Kelly, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hithcock, Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley, Natalie Wood so to be contemporary I would love to have a private breakfast with Anthony Hopkins in the company of Thandie Newton.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@thenatalieheslop & @natalieheslopofficial
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!