What do the people on this list have in common: Angelina Jolie, Sofia Vergara, Cameron Diaz, Uma Thurman, Jennifer Connelly, and Amanda Seyfried? They all started their careers in modeling. In this day of YouTube stars, this and that Idol, and “Top (insert profession here )”, it’s easy to forget that there was a time when professionals in entertainment took the path of working slowly to gain the experience to make a career last for life. That’s not to say that there aren’t many highly talented individuals in the aforementioned productions, just that there is something to be gained through gradually experiencing the many opportunities and scenarios that a developing career bestows. Sometimes the factor which allows creative types to develop as an artist is the ability to learn from the challenges and inevitable mistakes that come their way in less obvious ways. Natalia Gorelova has been travelling this path and successfully making the move from magazine covers and the catwalk to the TV screen. The wide variety of situations she has been called upon to perform in have resulted with her becoming a model who understands all of the subtleties of using verbal and nonverbal communication to portray whatever her role requires. While you might previously have seen her on the cover of Idealog or Headwave magazine, you’d more likely see her these days on TV doing a spot for Jaguar or Green Giant. Taking risks, doing the hard work, and believing in herself is the MOD for Gorelova. She grew up in Russia, then moved to New Zealand and was discovered. Going to unfamiliar places and jumping in the deep end has always been an attribute well exercised by Natalia. It has served her well giving her new opportunities and granting her access to other professionals who empowered her vocational pursuits.
Most models have to learn to make peace with the idea of auditioning. It’s an essential part of the business that most people accept as necessary in order to gain access to the opportunities they desire. In strong contrast to shying away from this, Gorelova describes a recent international TV spot for Zyrtec stating, “I decided that I had to play it very confident and warm. In one scene I was a member of a couple so I just went for it. Spontaneous intimacy with a stranger in a room in front of a camera can be an awkward experience. The key is to make it look like this is real and commonplace; you are in love with this guy you’ve never met before but you’re happy cuddling. It has to happen instantly. I made the point of talking to my casting partner before we got inside the room to break the ice a little. It worked and the audition went well. We felt at ease with each other which made the casting director happy, of course. I got a callback right away.”
An important reason for Gorelova’s casting was the director on the project, Gregor Nicholas. Nicholas in an Emmy Award finalist with international awards (at Cannes Lions for example) with films in the Permanent Film Collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (Pacific 3-2-1-Zero) and was called “One of New Zealand’s hottest directors” by the Hollywood Reporter. He communicates, “Natalia demonstrates an extraordinary range, both comedic and dramatic. Her versatility as a performer allows her to handle any theme or attitude, whether in a movie, television, or a commercial. Rarely have I collaborated with an artist who has worked so consistently with so many leading commercial and fashion brands. It is clear that Natalia is a truly gifted model with exceptional abilities.” Gregor was in the room during the casting session and recognized her talent immediately. His praise was particularly poignant for Gorelova as she had been aware of his work since first moving to New Zealand. She reveals, “I remember the time when I just moved to New Zealand from Russia and I was watching a lot of TV to help me learn English more quickly and I saw a Telecom commercial about a guy who travels a lot while his wife is back home pregnant and missing him. The man scans his hand and emails the image to his wife. Upon receiving the email, his wife touches the screen with her palm against the image of her husband’s. It was so emotional and cinematic. From casting, to music, to lighting, to the idea; all of it was wonderfully detailed and elegantly filmed. I never got sick of watching that commercial. Later, when I started working in the commercial world, I hoped that I would get to make something that beautiful and cinematic. When I realized that Gregor was directing this Zyrtec project, I became very nervous because I wanted the part so bad!”
The commercial aired frequently to great response, making Zyrtec quite happy. Gorelova admits that although she should focus on this, it is hard for her to get past enjoying the work so much because she works alongside professionals whom she respects. Having made a successful career in and being well-received by brands and customers alike is an achievement she is quite happy about. Of course, the fact that the Zyrtec campaign and her performance was successful is a happy outcome. Natalia confirms, “Working with the entire cast and crew, and learning from Gregor was incredible; but also, working for a huge American brand was really exciting. To me, it meant that I am marketable in the U.S. and that started giving me hope that I could one day end up doing what I love in the country that I also love.”