Industry Talk: Meet YouTuber & Model Natalia Taylor
Many people have been chewed by casting directors and spit back out, only to find themselves stripped from who we once were. The world of fashion is known for bad behavior towards models, yet very little change has come. Because of this, us scorned are left to warn others. For some, it’s a simple conversation with a friend. A thread of torture. Others, use art in various forms. Natalia Taylor makes YouTube videos.
Natalia Taylor has gained over 700K subscribers since starting her YouTube channel in 2015. She began her channel as a model, story-teller, and young girl who found herself in the pattern most gurus followed at the time. But after uploading a video called, “Watch Me,” in the summer of 2017, she disappeared. For a year her followers were left asking questions, only to find no answers.
Just 3 months ago, Natalia returned (boldly a blonde) in full swing. Since returning, she has posted multiple videos recounting terrifying experiences as a young model. Although her newest videos may be more controversial, it’s obvious that each is more worthwhile. Each is a mini-lesson for young women considering entering the industry, or those in it already. Her advice for cautiousness is something I wish I had a while ago…
I first discovered you on YouTube. What made you want to make videos on there?
A lot of the inspiration came from other people, because when I first started out I wasn’t a YouTuber. I did Instagram and I did Snapchat. I was trying to be an Instagram model. Then I did these long Snapchat stories, and would talk on there. A fellow friend that is also a YouTuber, told me, “You should just start a YouTube channel if you’re gonna be talking on your Snapchat.” So I started it. The inspiration came from giving the point of view of someone in the industry who does acting and modeling. I wanted to give my perspective.
How did you start modeling?
I’ve been modeling since I was eleven. It started because my grandma was a model back in the 60s when television was a thing and she wanted me to be a model, too. She was always like, “I used to model on television!” I didn’t want to be a model then. I thought it sounded lame. I was kind of a tomboy, so I did it for her. Then I began liking it. All because of my granny.
The subject matter for your video, “My Modeling Agent Was A Predator,” is something that happens a lot. For such a personal topic, how long had you been debating talking about it?
That happened to me before I started my YouTube channel. I was eighteen or nineteen, and it turned me off from modeling for a long time. Then I thought I needed to figure out a different form of art to express myself through. This experience totally fucked me up. I wanted to take a break from modeling and I started YouTube. But I did not want to talk about it. I never thought I’d talk about it; even to my own therapist because it was so embarrassing. Like who is stupid enough to fall for that? But I’m not stupid and it happens to a lot of people. I didn’t know that was a thing back then. A lot of girls have been targeted by these predators, pretending they can make their dreams come true. And it’s not just modeling. It can be seen in every section of entertainment. But I came to a point where I started healing. I knew people would learn from it. Obviously he probably has seen it, and that’s really scary. That’s with any of my videos.
A lot of these scams happen on Instagram - just last week a fake ambassador account for Lululemon was created, making people believe they’d be working with the brand. Have you experienced it with businesses as well?
I’ve definitely been scammed with sponsorships, and had to learn my lesson with that. That’s why I’m very picky now about what type of sponsorships I do. Most recently, I promoted an app which turned out to be a scam. People were getting scammed and I was promoting it. It’s hard to tell which is why I like to talk about it.
When a sponsorship opportunity comes your way, how do you go about deciding to take the offer?
The number one thing that it comes down to is: Will my subscribers enjoy the video? Out of the thousands watching, only a small percentage are interested in the product or brand. Knowing that, I’m worried about the ninety-nine percent. How will they feel when the video is released? Obviously money is great and when I first started out I always asked “How much money?” I would do anything for the money, but I found this very self-destructive. My sponsorships are few and far between. I look at how they’ll flow with my usual videos.
There has been a big change in the content seen on YouTube. Bigger productions and more thought-out content. Is being a YouTuber something you see yourself doing for a while?
No. I don’t want to do YouTube for the rest of my life. I gotta be completely honest with you: You know, I took this year-long break and it was the best year of my life. I feel like I do it for entertainment purposes. I’m not someone who gets in front of a camera and feels better after. It’s not a therapy for me. I look at it like a profession I’m good at. I have fun doing it, but to do it long-term… I just couldn’t. I get too emotionally attached with it. I struggle seperating myself from my channel. I put my heart into things and when a video doesn’t do as well as I hoped it would, it can be hard on my emotions.
Was the break to help you seperate yourself from the videos?
To ground myself, too. In the beginning, before my big break, I was a narcissist. Technically, a narcissist obsessed with my channel and everything I was doing. I was getting high all the time and doing drugs. Doing whatever the fuck I wanted. For views, attention, money. But I suddenly realized that if I didn’t change my behavior, I would die. So, I took my break and grounded myself. I’m coming back the right way - not so much for myself. I’m a normal human and if I didn’t have my channel I’d be fine.
I can definitely see with the videos you make now, compared to a lot of other creators, that it’s for other people. Because you don’t get anything out of warning young women from America’s Next Top Model.
Honestly with my new content I’m putting myself at risk. Before I used to talk about clothes, or whatever the fuck people wanted to hear. Now I’m talking about real shit. I want to educate young people. I even signed a nondisclosure years ago with America’s Next Top Model, so technically they could sue me. I just don’t care, because I know there are people out there who weren’t aware of what really goes on.
A few days ago you uploaded a video, concerned about Bella Hadid. Do you follow celebrity-type models?
No. I am a fan of all the Victoria’s Secret models, because I wanted to be one of them. I went as far as working at one of their stores. Someone DMed me about the video of Bella Hadid, and I was so shocked. I instantly filmed and uploaded it. I don’t follow them closely but I thought it fit with the style of videos I like to make. I knew some people wouldn’t respond well to it. Anytime you talk about somebody else’s body, people won’t respond well. It’s more about using an example to bring light to a concept.
Obviously the past year has brought a lot of change, with #MeToo and “Time’s Up.” Do you think the industry has changed for the better? Do you see change still needed?
The industry is not accepting of all body types. It used to be one body type. Now it’s three - out of millions. Now that there’s a little bit of acceptance, it’s “Oh my gosh, the modeling industry is getting so much better!” It’s thin, hourglass, and plus-size. They are saying if you don’t fit into those three, you’re not beautiful.The plus-size models still go through conditioning, which the skinny models have always been put through. If you’re a size fourteen, you need to either fit into a four or a sixteen. It’s not body positivity. It’s a cover-up. I knew a plus-size model stressing out because she had to gain all this weight to maintain her plus-size status.
What do you think needs to be done?
People are continuing to support companies that look for super thin alien-like women. On one end I want to buy a Gucci belt, but on the other side I have an opinion. We like to complain but we don’t want to do anything about it. We need to raise awareness for people to want to take action. Models especially should talk about it. Models can be very sentient to all this bullshit. It’s easier for me because I’m basically retired. I have no problem burning a bridge that I don’t want to even cross. America’s Next Top Model: bridge burnt. Bella Hadid: bridge burnt. But I have to make sure it’s a bridge I want burnt. Even my old manager didn’t want to me to speak up about ANTM. But after my break I did it. I like being self-managed.
Is Victoria’s Secret the next bridge to be burnt?
Yes and no. I love them as a brand. All of my issues weren’t with them as a brand. My issues were with coworkers. Cattiness, gossiping. So melodramatic. I have never worked for a better company. They gave us free bras once a month! I would still be there if it weren’t. I want to make a video talking about the recent fashion show, and the company’s scandalous comments.
Who inspires you day-to-day?
Honestly, I draw a lot of inspiration from God, the universe, and spirits. Whatever you want to call it. I identify as Christian, but I don’t believe in religion. I believe in the idea of Jesus and what he represents. Love is sacrifice. I’m also very spiritual - I feel connected with the universe. My year-break was an enlightening time for me. Partially from the drugs, but I’ve gotten my sobriety back. A huge part of my motivation is energy. If I’m confused or lost, I center myself.
This interview turned into a conversation for the both of us. Over Skype, across the United States, we went back and forth, sharing some of our craziest experiences as models. Maybe not relatable for everyone, but I found comfort knowing Natalia feels the same way about that not-so glamorous life. Although I’m not including the casual conversation, I will include this: A mindfulness exercise, created by Natalia. Exclusively for all of us.
“So, I picture myself as an egg. Three layers: shell, white part, and yolk. The outside shell is what people see and think. For me, it’s Natalia Taylor, YouTuber. I take that shell and peel it. Natalia’s gone. Instagram, modeling bullshit. Gone. The white part is myself as a child. What I love and associate myself with. I love cats, I love my mom. Memories. It’s how I see myself. Remove that and the yolk is your true self. Pure energy, no memories or experiences. Just existence. Expression and light."
MODEL Natalia Taylor @natalia__taylor
PHOTOGRAPHER Ally Amodeo @ally_amodeo