Natalia K. Grace: Gluma kao način života

"Pokret je moja terapija dok muzika čini da moje srce peva električno".

Haljina Kika Vargas
Cipele Amina Muaddi

Sa Natalia-om K. Grace, glumicom i čuvenom stand-up komičarkom, iskreno smo razgovarali o životnim promenama, glumi kao pozivu, ali i o načinu i metodama uz pomoću kojih prevazilazi stresne i krizne situacije kojima je izložena. 

Recite nam sta je bilo presudno da napustite političku karijeru i preselite se u drugu državu? Da li ste ikada zažalili što ste se opredelili za umetnost?

Nikada nisam osećala taj osećaj pripadnosti, da pripadam samo jednom mestu. Tako da sam nastavila da tragam. Od kada imam sećanje, sanjala sam velike snove. Uspela sam u nameri da izrazim sebe, da radim drugačije stvari, da pratim svoj osećaj i svoju intuiciju. Postoji li linearni put u životu?! Ne znam, ali završetak svoje političke karijere nikada nisam osećala kao žrtvu u korist umetnosti ili kao bes protiv režima. To je bila moja evolucija, nešto veoma intimno, još jedan korak bliže mom unutrašnjem bićiu. Imala sam sreću da učim od neverovatno talentovanih, pametnih, uspešnih poslovnih ljudi i da radim sa njima, i to me je motivisalo da nastavim godinama…ali svake nedelje, posle duge šestodnevne radne nedelje zatekla bih sebe kako gledam filmove neprekidno tokom tog dana.  Mogla sam da živim u jednom bioskopu u Moskvi za koji sam znala da prikazuju filmove na originalnom jeziku. A u slučajevima kada sam završila posao ranije, provodila bih noći u Puškinovom muzeju slušajući predavanja o umetnosti. Inspirisale su me sve forme umetnosti, posebno performans i njegova metamorfna snaga. Jednog dana sam se našla na pravom mestu u pravo vreme. Posle radnog sastankau Ricu u Moskvi, rešila sma da se prijavim na konkurs za stipendiju za studiranje na filmskoj akademiji u Njujorku koja seu tom trenutku baš tu i dešavala. Na samoj audiciji bila sam jako iscrpljena i nisam se osećala da sam spremna, ali sam ipak odlučila da pokušam. Otišla sam do toaleta i uvežbala “Just You Wait” iz mog omiljenog mjuzikla “My Fair Lady”. To je ujedno bio i jedini komad na engleskom koji sam tada znala napamet. Izvela sam to pred komislijom, razbacujući svoje poslovne papire. Nasmejali su mi se i dozvolili da snimim video i pošaljem ga naknadno sledeće nedelje. Vrlo malo ljudi nije sumnjalo u ovaj moj poduhvat. Toliko je lepote imati podrsku kada ste najranjivi. Okruženje sa ohrabtujućim ljudima otvorenog uma ima sopstvenu transformacionu snagu.

Da li ste se ikada sreli sa uznemiravanjem u filmskoj industriji ili modelingu? Kako ste uspeli da se nosite sa tim?

Jesam, kada sam tek završila Njujoršku filmsku akademiju. Neposredno pre pokreta #metoo. Nakon toga, po prvi put sam počela da imam teške napade panike. U sred tog užasa, za mene se otvorila magija mnogih modaliteta nege o sebi. Hipno terapija, somatsko iskustvo, akupunktura, disanje i transcendentalna meditacija. A najviše od svega probudila sam u sebi razumevanje praktikovanja joge. Bila sam u stanju da ostanem bezbedna u sadašnjem trenutku dovoljno dugo da mogu da zaronim dublje u nepoznato i bolje upoznam sebe.

Haljina Kika Vargas
 

Na koje od svojih dostignuća ste najviše ponosni?

Osetila sam veliko zadovoljstvo nakon našeg prvog rasprodatog stand-up nastupa prošle godine. Kada sam se posle pandemije konačno vratila na scenu i odradila prvi set…kakava radost! Bitno je da zbog grešaka ne osuđujete sebe, već greške prihvatate kao deo procesa, i da nastavite dalje. Neuspeh je ubica perfekcionizma, oslobodilac, transformator straha. Godinama sam radila dosta improvizacija i bila sam uplašena. Sećam se da je moj najbolji prijatelj bio kod mene u poseti pre nekoliko godina, i tom prilikom je video gomilu papirića na kojima su bile ispisane šale koje nikada nisu ugledale sverlost dana. Nakon što me je prijatelj gurnuo na binu u klubu Haha u Severnom Holivudu nisam mogla da prestanem. Ceo moj svet se promenio. Toliko je humoira u životu. Ponekad vidim trenutke kao škečeve ili taktove, i trudim se da sa sobom uvek imam malu svesku u kojoj zapisujem. Takođe, tokom snimanja filma Love, Weddings & Other Disasters, Dennis Dugan (Happy Gilmore, You Don't Mess with the Zohan, Big Daddy) je zbijao šale i emitovao tu pozitivnu energiju sve vreme. Jedva sam se držala ozbiljno. Tu je i naša neverovatna ekipa iz "The Westside Comedy Theatre" a prava atmosfera dolazi do usijanja kada se okupimo, razmisljamo o nastupima i stvaramo ih.

Na koji način motivišete sebe?

Smatram da kada jednom otkrijete šta znači  glumiti tu želite da ostanete zauvek. Inspiracija postaje vaša glavna motivacija. Kada niste povezani sa samim sobom, osećate da niste tu, da nešto nije u redu, osećate da gledate u tuđi život umesto da imate jedinstveno iskustvo za sebe. Stvari koje mi pomažu da ostanem povezana sa unutrašnjim bićem se stalno menjaju. Ali meditacija, bioskop, joga i prakse zahvalnosti su uvek tu. Pored toga sam strastveni čitalac. Pokret je moja terapija. Muzika čini da moje srce peva električno. Redovno postravljam granice na svojim društvnim medijima izvorima i informacijama. Inspirišu me i odvažni ljudi. Ipak, osećam da je imperativ odvojiti umetničko delo od umetnika koji ga pravi. Volite umetnost i cenite rad, ali obožavati nekoga koga niste sreli u stvarnom životu zvuči kao koncept osuđen na propast.

Haljina Kika Vargas
Cipele Amina Muaddi

Šta vam pomaže da donesete pravu odluku u kriznim situacijama?

Usporim, dišem stomakom i slušam svoje telo. Nauka koja stoji iza vagusnog nerva otkriva kako nam naša tela mogu pokazati put. Kada sam u nedoumici prvo duboko udahnem. Zatim se krećem, šetam ili plešem ako sam u prilici, ili jednostavno pravim mikro pokrete u predelu vrata jer imam tendenciju da postanem napeta u ramenima, vratu i vilici kada sam pod stresom. Privlačenje svesti na leđa je odlično posebno kada imam na šta da se oslonim, poput stolice ili sofe. To me automatski vraća u sadašnji trenutak i ublažava moju anksioznost. Ključ je izaći iz načina razmišljanja “da ili ne” i pitati se kako se trenutno osećam. Kako se osećam u vezi sa konkretnom situacijom za koju pitam, i slušam.

Koji je vaš moto, unutrašnja himna? Da li je imate?

Volim da biram hrabrost umesto udobnosti kao što sugeriše Brene Brown. Donosi mi onaj “u potpunosti proživljen život” osmeh na lice. Moji napadi panike su me naučili i da moram da budem snalažljivija da bih mogla da ostanem hrabra. Ne mogu dovoljno da naglasim važnost utelovljenja kao stalno promenljivog, dinamičnog odnosa između sebe, drugih i okoline.

Koji su vaši kreativni planovi?

Radim na svom solo stand-up nastupu čija će premijera biti na kraju godine. Uzbzđena sam i prestravljena zbog toga. Između ostalih projekata toliko sam uzbzđena i zbog razvoja komedije sa producentom Adrian-om Politowski-m (The Artist, My Brilliant Friend, Seven Sisters) koja je zasnovana na istinitoj priči o ilegalnoj industriji marihuana u LA-u.

Haljina Kika Vargas
Cipele Amina Muaddi

English here:

Tell us what was the decisive fact for ending your political career and moving to another country? Have you ever regretted making a choice in favor of art?

I never quite felt like I belonged. So I kept on searching. Since I can remember I enjoyed dreaming bigger than big. I thrived on challenging myself, on doing things differently, on following my fear and my intuition. Is there a linear path in life?! I don’t know but ending my political career never felt like a sacrifice in favor of arts or rage against the machine. It was my evolution, something very intimate, another step closer to my inner being. I was fortunate to learn from and work with incredibly talented, smart, successful business people, and that motivated and charged me to continue for years... but every Sunday after a long 6-day work week I would find myself watching movies non-stop. I could live in “35 mm”, the only movie theatre in Moscow I knew that screened motion pictures in the original language. And if I finished my work early - I’d spend nights at The Pushkin Museum listening to the art lectures. I was inspired by all art forms, especially the performance and its metamorphic power.
One day I happened to be at the right place at the right time as they say. After my work meeting at Ritz in Moscow, I stumbled upon a scholarship competition to study at New York Film Academy. At the same place! Being completely exhausted and not prepared, I still decided to go for it. I went to the lady's room and rehearsed “Just You Wait” from my favorite musical “My Fair Lady”. That was probably the only piece in English I knew by heart back then. I performed it in front of the commission, throwing my business papers around (not without some satisfaction). They laughed and allowed me to tape a proper submission. I emailed it the next week. A very few people didn’t doubt this 180 pivot of mine. There is so much beauty in choosing whom you share your thoughts with while at your most vulnerable. Surrounding yourself with emboldening open-minded people has a transformational force of its own.

Have you ever encountered harassment in the film industry or modeling business? How did you manage to cope with this?

I did when I was fresh from New York Film Academy. Right before #MeToo. In the aftermath, I started having severe panic attacks for the very first time. Amid that horror, the magic of many self-care modalities unfolded for me. Hypnotherapy, somatic experiencing, acupuncture, breathwork and transcendental meditation. And most of all I deepened my practice and understanding of yogic science. I was able to stay safe in the present moment long enough to be able to dive deeper into the unknown of my present vulnerable state.


Haljina Kika Vargas
 

Which of your achievements are you most proud of?

I felt a great deal of fulfillment after our first sold-out stand-up show last year. When after the pandemic I finally got back on stage and did the first set - oh mama! Such joy. Countless open mics behind when you are failing miserably over and over again and not judging yourself but accepting this as a part of the process. And keep on going. Failure is a beautiful perfectionism killer, a liberator, a fear transformer. I did a lot of improv over the years and was stand-up-curious for a while. I was so scared though! I remember my best friend visiting several years ago and seeing piles of notebooks with hand-written jokes that never saw the light of the stage. One day she pushed me on stage at Haha Club in North Hollywood. And I couldn’t stop ever since. The whole world around me shifted. There is so much humor in life! Sometimes I see moments as sketches or beats. I try to carry a little notebook around at all times to write them down. And community. Like during the filming of Love, Weddings & Other Disasters, Dennis Dugan (Happy Gilmore, You Don't Mess with the Zohan, Big Daddy) was cracking jokes and emanating that sparkly energy even at the makeup trailer. I could barely hold myself still. Or our amazing comics crew from The Westside Comedy Theatre, when we get together to brainstorm our beats before shows, it’s a vibe!

Do you motivate yourself? If so, how?

I feel like once you discover what it means to act out of an inspired place - you want to hang in there all the time. Inspiration becomes your main motivation. When you are not there, something is off, you feel like you are watching someone else's life instead of having an embodied experience for yourself. Things that help me stay connected are constantly changing. But meditation, cinema, yoga, and gratitude practices are always there. I’m an avid reader. Movement is my therapy. Music makes my heart sing electric. I regularly set boundaries with my social media, information sources. Daring people inspire me! I feel though that it is imperative to separate the artwork from the artist who makes it. Love art and appreciate work but being a fan of someone I haven’t met in real life sounds like a concept doomed to fail.


Šešir Dauphinette
Pantalone i jakna Lita by Ciara
Top Yan Yan

What helps you make the right decision in difficult situations?

Slowing down, taking belly breaths, and listening to my body. The science behind the vagus nerve reveals how our bodies can show us the way. When in doubt - I take 5 deep belly breaths first. Then I move: I take a walk or dance if I can or simply invite some micro-movements into my neck as I tend to get tense in my shoulders, neck, and jaw when stressed. Drawing awareness to my back body is great, especially when I have something to lean on like a chair or a sofa. It immediately brings me back into the present moment and eases my anxiety. Stepping outside of the “yes or no" mindset and asking how do I feel right now? How do I feel about this particular situation? And listen.

What is your motto, the inner anthem? Do you have one?

I love choosing courage over comfort as Brene Brown suggests. It brings that “life lived fully” smile to my face in the subtle beauty of the messy vulnerable honest human experience. My panic attacks taught me that to be able to stay courageous I have to become more resourceful. I can not stress enough the importance of embodiment as an ever-changing, dynamic relationship between self, other, and environment.

What are your creative plans?

I am working towards my solo stand-up show at the end of the year. Excited and terrified about it! Amongst other projects, I am so excited about the development of a comedy pilot with producer Adrian Politowski (The Artist, My Brilliant Friend, Seven Sisters). Based on a true story about the illegal weed industry in Los Angeles. 

Šešir Dauphinette
Jakna Lita by Ciara
Top Yan Yan

Tim:

Model: Natalia K. Grace @nataliakgrace 
PR: Valentina Gurova @valentinagurova
Ph: Christopher Brown @chrisopherbrownphotos

 

 

 

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