**Note: Spotlight is an original category of The Illixer given to people or events covered that may not necessarily be Hip-Hop or music based; but still deserve to receive some type of recognition for one reason or another.
“I would say you have to be a hard worker, as it takes patience and tons of networking. I have come across some who desire this yet they don’t want to work at it. If you are not open to constructive criticism and hard work this is not for you. It’s just like any other job, you have to work hard to advance and STAY professional. I cannot tell you how many get sidetracked and wonder why they are no longer being considered and contacted for work. If you don’t carry yourself as a professional don’t expect anyone else to. People do not like their time wasted in this industry so be willing to perfect your craft or understand that you will get left behind. Harsh advice but I can’t tell you how true it is!” – Natasha Nafrini / Natasha Nafrini is a well-established model/actress from the Mid-West. She has quite the adoring fan base, especially here in Milwaukee. The Illixer first encountered Natasha at a local Valentine’s Day themed Hip-Hop event. Though she was turning heads and the center of attention, she was still very approachable and down to earth. Her friendly persona and ongoing buzz made her seem like the perfect candidate for the next Spotlight segment. So check out her exclusive interview with The Illixer, as she dishes on everything from her dream gig to the bizarre requests that she receives from male admirers.
The Illixer: Your bio states that you originally started out as an actress. How did you make the transition from acting to modeling?
Natasha Nafrini: I actually began acting my junior year of high school with school plays as well as productions at local theater companies throughout Milwaukee. I accidentally fell into modeling while looking for a photographer for professional actor headshots. His name is Fred L Timm, he did my very first shoot and introduced me to networking sites such as Model Mayhem and One Model Place. He encouraged me to place the photos from our shoot on these sites. I took his advice and have been modeling ever since. I actually used these sites to network with people involved in film and theater and that’s how I began to start acting again, so it was all from networking with my modeling to open doors in other avenues.
TI: Who were some of your inspirations or influences growing up?
NN: Growing up I was always surrounded by movies and music as my family is heavy connoisseurs. Therefore I would constantly see images of talent like Pam Grier, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, and the list goes on and on. Growing up in such a household sparked my interest early in the arts. Out of everyone I watched growing up my biggest influences were artists like Aaliyah, Mariah, Whitney, Pam Grier, and Denzel Washington.
TI: Describe your most memorable acting or modeling job thus far. (For Example: what was it for, the environment, how you felt, etc.)
NN: That would be my experience working on the indie film Petty Cash: The Movie. We shot and premiered this film in 2010 and I have worked on other indie films prior, yet none of those ever came to completion or have never seen the light of day. Petty Cash was the first film that I did that was completed and premiered. Working with a cast and crew that were professional and dedicated was encouraging, even with the long days of shooting and re-shooting. When you’re grinding as much as I do and a project stalls for various reasons, it becomes discouraging at times; which is what made this project surreal for me as an actress. To see myself a part of a completed, professional and well received project was very surreal and I am very proud of that.
TI: What would be your dream acting or modeling gig and why?
NN: My dream acting gig would be to be alongside Denzel and Will Smith and Pam Grier in an action packed film. Or a steamy, dramatic love story where I’m playing Denzel’s and Pam Grier’s daughter and Will Smith’s lover, lol. Those two are just so amazing as actors and very inspirational to me, so that would be my dream acting gig.
TI: Modeling and acting are very competitive fields. Why is Natasha Nafrini the lady to choose over the rest?
NN: I am a very versatile talent, and this is not self-proclaimed only, professionals I have worked with will tell you the same. I have used my networking as a model to not only make contacts in acting, but also journalism, radio and music. So my strengths stretch far beyond modeling and acting. Whenever someone gains an interest in working with me they get a multifaceted talent.
TI: Milwaukee doesn’t have a huge avenue for acting and modeling compared to other cities like New York, for example. How do you deal with this issue?
NN: Very true, the community here is very small and is great if you’re looking to get your feet wet so to speak. I mainly network in Chicago, Atlanta and LA for projects. I plan to focus more on travel this year to network more for work. I do some work in Milwaukee, yet I focus more on other areas as the community here is very small and not as equipped as other areas.
TI: If you had to make a choice between acting and modeling, which one would you choose and why?
NN: Without hesitation acting. This is due to me never seeing myself as a model and my heart is not in it. It is a great way to network don’t get me wrong, but do I want to be a top model? No. Do I want to be Model of the Year? No. Its fun but my goals do not lie there. So I take on model gigs as they interest me but not to make a career statement of any kind. Besides I’m only 5’5, so if I was going to do modeling seriously I would need a few more inches as fashion is where the real money is.
TI: Browsing through your Model Mayhem portfolio, it is apparent that you are not afraid to do the more risqué photos. Do you worry about people seeing you in a negative light for that?
NN: I have actually encountered people who see my work as a model as tasteless and some have referred to it as porn, and at first I was very defensive about it but now I don’t let it bother me. As I honestly enjoy the risqué work as well as the more “tamed” work. I have already considered what people’s responses may be, but I also know that there are many more who enjoy what I do and see it as tasteful. I had to learn that not everything is for everybody and that’s exactly how I see my work. I have also noticed that my audience is very much one big gumbo pot, lol. I have those who enjoy my work when it’s tamed and risqué and some who only enjoy one or the other. But this is okay for me. I refuse to destroy myself by trying to please everyone, so you either support me or you don’t.
TI: As a model, I imagine that you attract a lot of attention from guys. What is the craziest thing a guy has ever said or done to try and make a move on you?
NN: Oh wow, I have some very bold guys who approach more so via the internet as when some see me in person they become very shy. I have had guys ask for me to send them worn panties. I have had some ask me if they could buy me clothing for a shoot but I do not accept those kinds of requests for security reasons. I just take it all with a smile as I know what kind of attention my work will bring, so I appreciate it but what I do is entertainment. So I smile and say thank you. Sometimes that is all I can do as the responses can be very bold.
TI: What are three things that you would like to accomplish in your career within the next five years?
NN: I would like to be affiliated with national/international agencies, as this is what helps you get to the next level. I can only do so much as an independent talent, so my focus this year going forward is to not so much impress people online but to gain the attention of the business men and women who guide and groom talent such as myself. I would like to also get back into writing, and maybe release a fiction novel or two by then. Also, I just gained my first film producer’s credit with my indie film The Bad Girl which we are still shooting, so to produce another one in that time frame would be nice.
TI: Do you have any upcoming projects that you want people to look out for?
NN: I am currently wrapping up my indie film The Bad Girl so the editors can perfect it and we can begin to market it for sponsors. So that’s my current focus as we have to focus on the package that comes with marketing an indie. I will also be gaining experience as a radio personality this April with ToneDef Radio, and we will be on BlogTalk Radio, so I am looking forward to that. And I am starting a new project that I prefer to keep under wraps for now until things get to moving. But I can tell you that it has nothing to do with acting and modeling and is something that I have been passionate about since I was five years old. In due time, people will see and hear ;-).
**My Two Cents: And that ladies and gents is Natasha Nafrini, pretty much in her own words. For more with the Mid-West beauty, check out her profile at Model Mayhem. Much love to Natasha for taking time out of her busy schedule to chop it up with The Illixer. Best of luck to her with all of her future projects. And check out the previous Spotlight segment featuring Blaqlizt Entertainment’s own model/singer Treena Burtin aka Mz. Nova. -MinM