Now that we’ve sufficiently piqued your appetite for the best local L.A. cuisine, it’s time to meet the gorgeous, accomplished lady behind the recs — Miss Natalie Pelletier, also popularly known on Insta as @irishfrecklegirl. Natalie is a Chicago-born L.A. transplant with a plethora of talents — she acts, writes, directs, and even sings! And boy, does she know her way around the Los Angeles restaurant scene.
While Natalie has charm, wisdom, and talent to spare, perhaps what we love most about her is her bright optimism and enthusiastic commitment to her art. Natalie is not immune to the challenges of the creative lifestyle, but she manages to transcend them with the knowledge that she is in control of her own choices, and that her love for acting is one of her most inherent truths. In short, Natalie follows her gut — whether that means trying out the newest food truck in her neighborhood or putting herself out there at casting calls and doing what she loves.
- Age: 25
- Location: Los Angeles, California
- Education: BA in Dramatic Arts from UNC-Chapel Hill
- Field of Interest: The Arts, specifically acting
- What’s Your Favorite Thing About Yourself? My positive outlook on life! Pursuing acting is a tough business, so there’s no point doubting myself — I chose this career path! I’m not one of those bubbly all the time, always-smiling type of women, but I do look on the bright side. When I wake up in the morning, I’m excited about what the day will bring because there is so much I don’t know and want to explore. Yes, I have those days when I feel fat and I think that I suck at acting, but I am able to snap out of those funks pretty quickly. Life is short — do what you want and don’t take things too seriously. And always be true to yourself; follow your gut, which sometimes leads me to donuts, ice cream and margaritas..! Also, I love my freckles!!!
- What Inspired You Today? Instagram is my daily dose of inspiration. It’s a way for me to create something for myself almost everyday. Plus, I love discovering new accounts to follow. Yesterday, when I was working my night job (I’m a server), I ran into a girl I follow on Instagram. I was nervous and kind of embarrassed to say something, but I did anyways. She was so thrilled and thanked me for saying something. Moments like that are always good reminders for me. Even if I’m scared to do something, it usually has a good pay off! Follow me at @irishfrecklegirl!
- What Are You Reading That You Can’t Put Down? Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and before that, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
- What Are You Currently Involved In That You’re Really Excited About? There are a couple of things! One is a Webseries that I created called Shit Girls Used to Say. I released the first episode “Mistake Out” in September. I wanted to create work for myself instead of waiting for the phone to ring — so I did! The future episodes will look at women inventors, thinkers and creators in a smart and witty way; and I get to do what I love! I’m able to research and learn about women who I find inspiring, and then play dress-up and tell a version of their story. Also, in a week, my acting class will perform an original piece written by a guy in my class called Peanuts Post-Puberty. It’s a really fun script that centers around a grown-up Charlie Brown gathering the gang for Snoopy’s funeral. We’re putting it together pretty quickly, so it’s fun to play but also get down to business and just do the damn thing! That’s the one thing I’ve learned in the two years I’ve been out in LA, there’s a lot of talk but not so much action. I want to be someone who takes action!
Questions + Answers
Between your emphasis on hard work and taking action, along with writing and performing your own original work, it’s clear that you bring a creative, entrepreneurial spirit to acting. Did you grow up around self-starters or is this a skill that you’ve developed independently?
I’d say it’s a combination of both. My mom was always busy growing up. Even though for my childhood she was a “stay-at-home” mom, she was always volunteering or working on some board. Now more than ever I look up to her — she went back to work full-time 6 years ago as the Director of Communications at the largest Catholic school in Chicago’s archdiocese and she also became a fashion consultant with cabi clothing. So my mother taught me how to stay busy for sure 😉 but also that it’s good to have a balance between different projects so you don’t get tunnel vision. My dad also has a catering business for his famous chili which he does in addition to sales.
That being said, I think I’ve become such a self-starter because I’ve taken a slightly different path to enter the acting business. When it got down to the wire my senior year of high school, I was torn between University of Michigan for the BFA Acting Program or UNC-Chapel Hill for what I like to call “college-college”. Had I chose UM, I would have been around a lot more familiar faces and also had the opportunity to participate in their graduate showcase following graduation to get in front of LA industry folks (not to say that UM grads have automatic success because of this, but it is a perk). But I didn’t want to pursue a BFA, and I am so glad that I chose UNC. I knew only one person when I started there freshman year so I really had to push myself to make friends. I knew it would take more “work” upon graduation, but I was happy with that. I’ve never been one to expect things to fall into my lap. And I like getting crafty and discovering ways to push my career forward.
Given your previous involvement with Mad Men and your Webseries “Sh*t Girls Used To Say”, you seem to be particularly inspired by retro Americana and women’s roles in that culture. How does this relate to your understanding of contemporary feminism?
I think the reason that I’m drawn to roles and stories that involve women in history is because their stories have been so few and far between. For every great man in history, there is a woman’s story that has most likely been unheard or underplayed because women just didn’t have the status.
I love that I live in a time where I can give those women voices and share their stories. I think this will be even more exciting when everyone jumps on board with this idea — both men and women have to play a role in creating equality in the work place. As a woman, I feel responsible for making sure that men are just as much a part of the conversation. I think it can be alienating if they aren’t involved.
As an actress, do you have a preference for performing your own original work or others’? Why?
I don’t have a preference, but a good mix of both is my ideal scenario. I am so excited to get my YouTube series Sh*t Girls Used To Say off the ground because I just love the idea and I will get to work with a lot of my friends. Collaboration has always been one of my favorite aspects of working on a new or old piece — everyone always has their own fun energy and ideas.
We’ve heard from other creatives, most notably new-age cellist Shannon Hayden, that the so-called “creative sacrifice” isn’t a sacrifice at all because it’s a joy and a conscious choice to pursue these passions. When did this ring the most true for you?
I think it’s always rang true. It’s funny, I just finished the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame and she talks about how for lack of a better word, how “stupid” that whole notion of creative sacrifice is. Pursing acting or any art is a tough business. And I’ve known that since I was little, no one told me otherwise. But I love performing. I love storytelling. I love dressing up. I love researching roles and time periods, learning about different worlds. I always knew a normal day job wouldn’t be my jam.
If I had to pinpoint a particular moment though, it was about a year ago. Despite both of us having a day job, my roommate at the time — Maddie, who is also an actress — were both so tight on money that we ate only saltines and peanut butter for a week. And it didn’t feel like a sacrifice in the sense that I was suffering for the sake of my acting. I was just making things work because I wanted to be in acting class and pay for the other various expenses that come with managing your own art business.
Your Instagram presence (@irishfrecklegirl) is just so fun and drool-worthy! We love that you’re involved in the foodie scene in addition to acting. From an outsider’s perspective, it seems like the two are constantly at odds with one another (i.e. the media’s obsession with weight and body image). Do you perceive your enthusiastic, happy approach to food to be almost a rebellion against this stereotype?
Well thank you ladies! It’s been really fun to document and try new places in LA. While in college I was a lot more harsh on myself about what food I ate. I wouldn’t give into my cravings when I had them, but would pay for it after I went out to the bars #hellolatenighteating (Qdoba’s queso though…) Anyway, when I came to LA I was definitely self-conscious about my body — it’s hard not to be in this business, but I didn’t want to limit myself from exploring and trying new places. That is one of my favorite things in life! Eating at a new restaurant, seeing a new movie (whether it’s in theaters or a classic I am just watching), discovering a coffee shop in my neighborhood, etc. So when I moved out here, I allowed myself to eat, explore, dig into and try the food that I wanted to because it made me happy. I also coupled that with working out. It was nice to have time during the day to hit the gym or barre classes (shout out to Pop Physique) and I didn’t kill myself if I didn’t get to a class everyday.
I suppose I was just “nicer” to myself. I gained a more “Yes, I deserve this” mentality post-college that has helped me not only with eating and body image, but also sticking up for myself in work situations, too. So in a way that’s rebellious?! Not limiting myself or being negative about my body; eating the damn pasta or donut or fried chicken because life is short. And being a glutton is way more fun than depriving yourself.
You’ve lived in Los Angeles for nearly three years now. How does the city inspire you? What does your typical weekend in L.A. look like?
Shit! Time flies… It’s been amazing living out here. LA is a city of neighborhoods and taking a day or afternoon to pick a part of town that I haven’t visited. I love how relaxed people are. How there are so many walks of life. But how easy it is to have alone time. It’s hard to find that solace in New York. In LA, I can take a walk in my neighborhood and pass only a couple folks. There are always people creating — whether it’s the amazing street art that floods the city or filming that happens everywhere. It’s fun to be around artists.
I actually work Saturday mornings, so I’m up early for my shift. It’s funny, the past 6 months, I’ve almost always worked a double shift. So Saturdays are more work-work days. Afterwards, I’ll attend a rehearsal for my acting class if there’s one scheduled. Otherwise, I’ll hop into a coffee shop and do a little work — either updating my website, creating a hit list of Casting Directors I want to see, or checking things off my to-do lists. On Sundays, I’ll try to go to the farmer’s market or flea market, spend time with friends and slow down for a couple hours. Try a new restaurant, go to a new bakery, see a friend’s show or film my own work!
Two of my best friends and I out here do a weekly coffee meeting where we hold each other accountable for our work. It’s nice a) to have the support of my friends but b) someone to light the fire under my ass when I’m not feeling particularly motivated. Because I don’t have a traditional 9-5 with coworkers around me, this acts like a sort of office meeting to help build my “Natalie Pelletier” product.