She stands at 5’11 minus her heels, with skin as dark and radiant as an African princess and a smile that illuminates the scene as soon as she takes stride upon the runway.
Who is she, you may ask? Allow me to introduce… Natalie Bryant! By her peers, often compared to Supermodel Alek Wek and Fashion Icon Grace Jones, but this South Side ‘diamond in the rough’ is a just a kid from Chicago making her presence known on the fashion scene.
With androgynous features and a true model’s figure, Natalie would be ideal in Paris, Milan and South Africa. As we all know, the modeling industry is just as tricky as any other ‘breakthrough’ industry. Especially, as a wife, mother of two sons, and a full-time job; Natalie’s stride must reflect strategy until the moment presents itself properly. But don’t knock her hustle, Natalie has graced the cyber pages of HUSH Chicago magazine and ASHRO catalog; and worked the runways of Neiman Marcus’ Fashion Night Out, the School of the Art Institute in Chicago Fashion Show, and Vera Wang’s Bridal Show to name a few. Whether its maintaining a sensible lifestyle at home or morphing into a rising glamazon on the runway, clearly, Natalie is no stranger to hard work.
Row A Seat 1: Natalie Bryant is …
Natalie B: I am a loving, hardworking, down to Earth, and fashionable girl from Chicago’s (Southside) Englewood community. I am all things loyal and fabulous! I am a model, mail lady, mother, wife, sister, friend and a hustler … Definitely a multi-tasker (laughs).
Row A Seat 1: How did you start modeling?
Natalie B: When I was 21, I went to several open casting calls for Elite Chicago and Ford Chicago. After a few open castings calls I was asked to come back for runway classes at Elite. I worked a few shows and made a few bucks, but I didn’t get a contract. You can do a show and the client has three months to pay you.
At the time, I had to stop focusing on modeling to get a job. At age 25-27, I applied to America’s Next Top Model and made it to the second round, but didn’t make it to the show. The next year I signed with Explore Talent for exposure. Ogi Merzier was holding a casting for a magazine and TV pilot, I booked both. She later referred me to the head of the runway division for Factor Chicago (formerly Elite) and I was signed.
Row A Seat 1: First Modeling Job …
Natalie B: My first modeling job was working for Ogi Merzier, which included a fashion segment pilot with Chicago’s own, Val Warner and about a week later we shot for an online publication called Hush Chicago Magazine, in which I got the June cover (Ethnic Hush).
Row A Seat 1: Favorite Job So Far …
Natalie B: I would have to say Ashro! It’s something very rewarding about seeing yourself in print. Knowing all the different households this catalog will pass through. The entire crew was very cool, and involved professionals.
Row A Seat 1: Dream Modeling Job …
Natalie B: It would definitely be the Lincoln Center during New York Fashion Week.
Row A Seat 1: Your look is very androgynous, has it been a positive or negative experience for you?
Natalie B: It has been a little bit of both. When I first signed with the agency I don’t think they knew what to do with my look. There was nobody at the agency that looked like me. I was told my look was too ethnic, too hard for a city as conservative as Chicago. I signed in the fall with little to no bookings. In the spring, I booked School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Millennium Park and the students loved my look! After that show, I booked like crazy! It really turned things around for me!
Row A Seat 1: Have people compared you to Supermodel Alek Wek? How does that make you feel?
Natalie B: All the time! I am honored beyond words. She is beautiful, talented and on fire! I love Alek Wek and I aspire to be as successful as she has been in her modeling career.
Row A Seat 1: What’s your view on Black models in the fashion world?
Natalie B: In Africa, London, and Paris, Black models are working and shining. In Chicago, and even New York, it is rough for us Black models. It’s the way it’s always been, we have to stand out twice as much. It’s one Black model to every 10 white models, if that. What more can I say.
Row A Seat 1: Designers you heart …
Natalie B: Derek Lam, Lanvin and Mark Jacobs.
Row A Seat 1: Which Supermodel would you choose to be your mentor?
Natalie B: Tyra Banks of course. Tyra has mentored so many young girls and women, ushered so many modeling careers, and she knows her shit. She is so real, experienced and successful. To me … Tyra is EVERYTHING!!!
Row A Seat 1: Favorite Comfort Foods …
Natalie B: I love cereal, especially, Apple Jacks and Frosted Flakes; rice with butter and sugar, and Salerno Butter Cookies.
Row A Seat 1: Beauty Lust …
Natalie B: Dove Sensitive Skin, Vaseline and Hawaiian Silky 14 in 1 Moisturizer.
Row A Seat 1: I never leave home without …
Natalie B: Dental Floss and Vaseline, for sure!
Row A Seat 1: Describe your favorite photo shoot …
Natalie B: It’s funny because I am much more comfortable on the runway as opposed to in front of the camera. But, anytime I’m working with fun, talented, breezy professionals that are on the same page … it’s a good time! If I connect with the photographer and the concept … we winning! I always have fun on set. I move and work better when I’m comfortable and having fun.
Row A Seat 1: Ultimate travel destination …
Natalie B: Hawaii and St. Lucia.
Row A Seat 1: When I’m modeling …
Natalie B: I’m fabulously confident, most happy, powerful and free!!!
For bookings or modeling inquiries, please contact Natalie Bryant via email firstname.lastname@example.org; and be sure to follow her on IG: NatalieDaModel.