I can still remember the first time I met Natalie Graves. It was in the hallway outside of my third grade classroom at Mimosa Park Elementary - many years before she started her modeling and acting career.
I remember Natalie before she started hanging out on the set of major motion pictures with big Hollywood celebrities like John Travolta and Martin Lawrence. I remember Natalie before she decided to drop the last name and simply started going by Natalie Nicole.
Natalie, a native of Nashville, Tenn., spent her childhood growing up in†Luling. In 1995 she moved back to Nashville where she went on to graduate high school and give birth to her 7-year-old daughter, Autumn.
And itís been awhile since Iíve had the chance to sit down and chat with her, but weíve kept in touch over the years and through a recent series of consecutive emails Iíve come to learn about her success in the fast-paced world of show business.
For those of you who remember a wild-eyed girl named Natalie Graves, hereís a little Q & A to help get you reacquainted with the now 26-year-old Natalie Nicole.
How did you get started modeling? Was it always a dream of yours?
I was working at the menís fragrance counter at a Dillards department store in Nashville when a model scout approached me and asked me if I ever thought about modeling.
He offered me a test shoot that would pay $150 per hour for a Levis Jeans Co. print advertisement in Tractor Supply Co. magazine and a spread in the clothing companyís catalog.
I landed the job and starting thinking that this was what I wanted to do.
So, I began to learn how to be a model. It came easy to me and eventually developed a desire to further my career through television and film.Would you say that the Levis advertisement helped to get your foot in the door for future modeling opportunities?
I truly do believe that being a featured model for Levis helped jumpstart my career.
After the catalog came out, I got a call from the suntan lotion company Hawaiian Tropic to be a contestant in their Arkansas pageant.
I agreed to do it and I won the competition. The company then asked me to become an official Hawaiian Tropic Girl and travel throughout Mexico for the Hawaiian Tropic Spring Break Tour which was filmed by the E! Entertainment channel.
It was my first time on camera for a television show and I loved it.You currently live in Washington, Mo. - what prompted you to make the move from Nashville?
When I got back from Mexico, my mom, Robyn Zeringue, made me realize that if I wanted to pursue a modeling career I was going to need help taking care of my daughter.
So, I packed our bags and Autumn and I headed for Missouri to live with my mom.
It was a huge step for me, but thanks to my mom, I was able to kick up my heels and really start working towards my goals.After the big move, what was the next major step for you in furthering your career?
Shortly after I moved, I was asked by a scout to do a reality show called Shut Up and Model.
And with every project I did I gained more knowledge of the industry and started to put my focus into doing more television, and eventually landed a role on the yet-to-be-released reality show Supermodel Showdown.
Tell me a little about your experience on reality television.
Supermodel Showdown was about as raw as it comes.
A group of models had to live in the heart of the Costa Rican jungle with no contact with the outside world for weeks. It was such an insane feeling not being able to communicate with my family.
The series showcased each of our talents and showed the world that we are more than just a pretty face.
The show will be airing soon, so I canít really talk much about what happens and what the outcome is. Youíll just have to watch and see.It seems like youíve really found a home in reality television and that youíre interested in being on the silver screen. Tell me about your work in the film industry.
After Supermodel Showdown, I buckled down and started attending casting calls and reading scripts.My biggest success, so far, in the movie industry was as a featured extra in the Touchstone/Disney production Wild Hogs.
At the end of the movie, I play a distraction on the beach who causes the cast to crash their motorcycles.
My part was so small, but the scene was featured on the television trailer. It was so exciting to watch.What does the future hold for Natalie Nicole?
I was just in Los Angeles and launched ModelXpo - a fashion show with No. 1 celebrity designer Kaptain Leather. I rocked the runway and felt fierce!
I also just finished filming an online reality show called Suitcase Full of Ones that will be aired at www.hobnox.com.
And my first independent film, Abbey of Thelma, premiered in October.
It was my first role with an accent. I played an Italian women from Italy in the 1920s.Letís have a little fun. Tell the readers who the true Natalie Nicole is.
Natalie Nicole is someone who loves to laugh and be silly. I enjoy life and live it to the fullest.
I love spending time with my daughter, Autumn. She is my everything.
Iíve made God an essential part of my life and that has made all the difference in the world.
I feel that through my career I have been able to discover who I really am and feel blessed to have had the opportunity to do that.
|Photo courtesy of Natalie Nicole|
|INTRODUCING NATALIE NICOLE. Former Luling resident Natalie Graves has come a long way since her childhood days. She is pictured here on location in Costa Rica for the reality television series Supermodel Showdown.|