BELLO SPOTLIGHT on Natalie Morales August 23, 2017 A WOMAN FOR ALL SEASONS: NATALIE MORALES By Hiko Mitsuzuka @TheFirstEcho Natalie Morales is more than a familiar face you’ve seen on TV (Parks and Recreation, The Grinder) and in films (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, the upcoming Battle of the Sexes). She’s that multi-hyphenate, an actress who wears many of those proverbial hats, something that 2010s Hollywood requires more and more from any artist whose star wattage is growing brighter and brighter by the minute. The outspoken yet private Florida native was the “insomniac child” of a “single mom who worked a lot.” Young Natalie ended up watching a lot of Nick at Nite reruns with her Cuban grandparents. Classic sitcoms like I Love Lucy (“The fact that you can make a show in the 50s, and it’s still very, very funny today? …Impressive.”), Taxi (“one of my favorite shows”), The Bob Newhart Show, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show were major influences as were the comedic stylings of Buster Keaton…and Paul Reiser? “To be honest,” she explains, “I love Paul Reiser. I think Paul Reiser is brilliant. I loved Mad About You [in the 90s] and I love everything he does. So he was a big inspiration to me.” That inspiration guided grown-up Natalie down a colorful career path that included roles on ABC’s Trophy Wife, HBO’s The Newsroom, and USA’s White Collar. But what she has already accomplished in 2017 alone is another kind of inspiration… NATALIE THE AUTHORITY First and most recently, she’s a commanding presence as Deputy Anne Garcia on Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet, the show about an undead suburban realtor named Sheila (Drew Barrymore) who eats people. Season 2 of the dark comedy, which is currently in production, doesn’t premiere until early next year, but Morales promises that it “really amps up everything that happened in the first. If you think of the first season as an introduction to this concept, the second season is just action-packed and kind of crazy.” When we last saw Anne, she was close to learning the truth behind her partner’s disappearance (*Months-old spoiler: he was killed with a shovel to the head, and Sheila consumed the evidence–but he totally deserved it). “I don’t see myself in her at all,” Natalie reflects on her tough-but-offbeat character. “That’s what is exciting about it. When I got offered that part, I was like, how can I make her as weird as humanly possible? I just wanted her to be a real weirdo who really cares about her job, really cares about Jesus, really cares about this woman that she’s in love with but isn’t telling anyone about, and is very intimidating to a woman who can kill and eat me and a guy who’s twice my size. How can I do that? I think it’s authority and being unpredictable, so that’s what I was trying to do with that character.” NATALIE THE DIRECTOR Morales has also been developing a taste for being behind the camera, helming several music videos and passion projects (Google the powerful short film Pulaski) in between acting. She’s a lover of all kinds of filmmaking. “I’m not one of those people who just sits on a set and only worries about her job,” she explains. “When they call ‘cut,’ I don’t bury myself in my phone. I’ve always been the person to look around and see what everyone is doing and see what the intricate parts of every little aspect of making something are.” As a director, she prefers to broaden her horizons and not stick to one genre. “I like Clueless just as much as I like Alien. Although, I guess if they had any similarity, it’d be that they have a strong female lead that I could relate to in a sense.” NATALIE THE HEARTFELT WRITER This past summer, Natalie made headlines with a deeply personal and inspiring entry she wrote for Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls. In the post, she recounted her experiences while developing feelings for another girl in high school. Although she preferred not to label herself, she identified as queer. Some of the media had a field day with it, interpreting this coming out in different ways. The overall reaction though, according to Morales, has “been mostly really good. I do have the quality filter turned on on my Twitter, so I don’t see a lot of bad messages, which I know is sort of living in a ignorance-is-bliss situation, but I don’t care! It’s nice. I do think the biggest thing I realized is that people don’t read anything but headlines sometimes, so a lot of people think I’m gay, which is not what I wrote, but you know, that’s fine. Think whatever you want. I don’t care. To be honest, I didn’t know or expect that to blow up in the way that it did. I was just writing a piece for a site that caters to young women, and hopefully all young people, and it blew up in a way that I did not imagine, which is sort of contradictory to what the article was about. It was about how I didn’t want anyone to know about me because I’m a very private person, and then suddenly it blew up, which is really weird.” NATALIE THE SOCIALLY-CONSCIOUS CREATOR The tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, its aftermath, and the strife felt throughout the country was yet another test on every American’s sanity. When asked how she copes with such a tumultuous political climate, Morales isn’t sure: “I don’t know that I do, to be really honest. I don’t think I’ve figured out a way [to stay sane]…I feel like the last few months, even if you voted for Trump and you think you’ve made the right choice, we’re still living, all of us, [at this point where] we wake up in the morning and already feel this level of anxiety because things are very uncertain and scary across the board. I think it’s a little bit bigger for those who did not vote for Trump and are against everything he stands for. I think we are probably a little more scared because we see things down the road that Trump supporters don’t and haven’t seen. Or at least we suspect that these things will continue to get worse, whereas Trump supporters are hoping that things get better. I think across the board it’s this base-level of anxiety that we all kind of exist with now, and I think that operating with that at all times makes everything else kind of crazy. The only way that I find that I can get through it is by taking some social media breaks throughout the day. I don’t check it all day because that would make me crazy, although sometimes I do get in that mood. I also try to spend a lot of times with friends. I really like to cook for my friends and make weird dumb stuff.” That weird, dumb stuff included a “really, really, really absurd video” Morales made for Funny or Die after last year’s presidential election. (Look up “One Job – Always Something”.) “I was like, we’re not gonna talk about the election at all,” she remembers. “And we’re just making escapism for two minutes, that’s all we’re gonna do…and then we can put it on the Internet and escape whenever we want to…I needed comedy and I needed friends to sort of build back the reserve. That’s what fuels me up. If I’m gonna fight, I need that fuel.” That fuel will continue to propel her into more dynamic roles like Rosie Casals in September’s Battle of the Sexes, starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell. The 70s sports dramedy, directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton (Little Miss Sunshine), focuses on the days leading up to the legendary tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. Morales plays King’s doubles partner. “It was the opportunity of lifetime,” she gushes. “And it was really such a pleasure working with everyone on that, and I know that sounds like such bullshit because that’s what everyone says about every job, but it’s true. Emma Stone is incredible. It’s awesome…and Steve Carrell, oh my God, is so good in it. It’s a really special movie.” Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Name* Email* Website Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.