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Inspirational Women In Hollywood: How Natalie Burn Is Helping To Shake Up The Entertainment Industry

An Interview with Ming Zhao

No matter what happens today, tomorrow will come. I learned to not lose patience or faith and that life is like a roller coaster ride, it will go up and down when you least expect it. But the next day always comes and it brings us new opportunities, new ideas, and new people to meet. ‘Tomorrow simply becomes a day closer to your dream. So don’t live in the past, live in the future.’

As a part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Natalie Burn.

Natalie Burn (Natalia Guslistaya) is a Ukrainian born actress, and new American citizen, who is proud to be a lifetime member of The Actors Studio and an active member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Later this year Burn can be seen in a supporting role in Warner Brothers new DC Comic movie Black Adam starring Dwayne Johnson and opposite Antonio Banderas in The Enforcer, which she also produced. On the television side, Natalie co-stars on Emmy Award Winning short-form drama Series “Studio City,” which can be found on Amazon Prime. She also recently co-starred in a Lifetime Original movie for A&E networks “Vanished: Searching for my Sister.”

An efficient martial arts who can perform her own stunts, Burn has showcased her skills in films working opposite Bruce Willis and Mel Gibson to name a few. In 2019 Natalie starred as the lead role in the action thriller “Acceleration” opposite Dolph Lungren and Sean Patrick Flanery. In addition to being a martial artist, she is a professional ballet dancer who graduated from The Royal Ballet School in London and also speaks 4 languages. Burn also works as a producer and owns two companies 7Heaven Productions and Born To Burn Films. She has produced 11 films so far and has a few that are in pre-production now.

Burn aims to empower and be a top role model for artistic women within the entertainment industry all around the world. When not traveling the globe working on her various projects, her home base is in Los Angeles.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I was born in the city of Kiev which is the capital of Ukraine. As a child my family and I lived in a small apartment that was provided by to my mother by the university she attended because she was an excellent student. Due to the economy of Ukraine and our own economical situation we were constantly struggling to survive. We were given food coupons by the government but unfortunately the shelves at many of the local grocery marts were barely stocked due to a national food shortage. At the age of 7 I was admitted to the Bolshoi Ballet Academy located in Moscow. After attending the academy for 4 years, My mother, brother and I moved to London where I spent my teenage years growing up while studying at The Royal Ballet School. There were many challenges along the way. I didn’t speak very good English at first which sometimes led me to feel like an outsider. I wasn’t going to let these challenges stand in the way of pursuing my dream of becoming a professional ballerina. I continued to work hard and sacrifice while using the same determination that led me on stage under the lights in front of hundreds of people. After hearing the applause of the crowd I knew this is where I belonged. I was my mother’s child and I was born to be an entertainer. It wasn’t until later in life that I would realize that my dream of being an entertainer would bring me all the way to Hollywood.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

It was a Thursday afternoon and I was staring out of the window watching the rain drops turn into a slow drizzle as the doctor opened the door and gave me the news of my life that I never wanted to hear. My ankle was fractured. It was in that very moment that I realized two very important things. One: that my career as a professional ballerina was over. And two: I wasn’t ready to give up on my dream of being an entertainer. Several weeks had gone by and the pain had begun to ease as I was riding on the subway with my mother across town when we looked down and saw a newspaper that was left on the ground by another traveler. When we picked up the paper and looked inside we realized that there was an ad that they were holding acting auditions in London for a summer program at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts school in Los Angeles.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you begin your career?

After auditioning and being accepted to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts school in Hollywood I was so excited. I was on my way to the airport and as I boarded the plane I realize that I was alone in this. It was my life to live, it was my dream to pursue, it was my mistakes to make and it was my opportunity to succeed. As I got on the plane and began the journey through the sky, the thoughts began racing through my mind about my new life and my dream becoming a reality. When the plane landed at LAX I realized I forgot one very important thing. I had boarded the plane one day before my visa was set to start so I got stopped at the airport and held in the security room for 12 hours. They ended up giving me a warning instead of sending me back to London. As I stepped out of the airport and into the California sun I never felt more grateful.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that? I

In 2007 when I was studying acting at the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute I was asked to help do a scene for the world renowned The Actors Studio. Unfortunately I had no idea what it was at that time. And I was only helping my partner since he said how important it was for him to get in. Without doing any research I agreed to help thinking it was just a class. We prepared our scene from the play ‘Dutchman & The Slave” by Amiri Baraka. When we arrived to the theater we were asked to sign in which I did but I quickly answered: I’m not the one auditioning. After what seemed like hours of waiting, we were called in on stage. We carried our props and without anyone saying anything, I just started the scene. I grabbed what was an imaginary rail on the Subway and pretended to rock back and forth. After only saying a couple of sentences. I looked at my partner who never started to act. I guess he was too scared or just didn’t know he had to start. Soon I heard a voice from the dark auditorium. It was Martin Landau. He asked me where I was from. And said I wasn’t auditioning. He asked me why? And I responded I didn’t know what it was for. He said now you know and thank you. That was the end of our audition. A week later I received a letter. I didn’t become a member but I was made an observer and I was asked to audition with a different scene keeping the same partner since he was the one auditioning. After six months I auditioned and I got in and became a working finalist. Unfortunately my scene partner never did. In fact as I recall he even quit acting. Years later I became a Lifetime Member of The Actors Studio. It was a wonderful mistake that brought me to such an amazing group of people. And I’m forever grateful to Martin Landau who saw something in me regardless of the fact that my name was not on his sheet. My lesson I learned is never let any opportunity pass you by and do your best. Because you never know who will be sitting in that dark audience watching you.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

For as long as I can remember my mother has always been my champion. She encouraged me, pushed me and stood behind me. One afternoon, I can’t remember what particular practice it was or exactly what I was complaining about but I do remember telling my mother that I couldn’t do it. My mother looked at me with a stern look and she said “I’m gonna tell you something and I want you to remember this forever. Can’t is the cancer of can. Can’t is a word that is used by people who are willing to give up. People who are ready to give up. You can do it and you will do it no matter how hard it is or how impossible it may seem. Always remember you can do it.” So if someone ask me now if I can do something I always say yes and then I go and I learn it if I don’t know how to do it. I love challenging my mind and my body and I like to learn things. It is one thing that makes my life interesting.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure? the importance of failure.

If we didn’t know how to fail, we wouldn’t know how to develop character and endurance. When you feel like you hit rock bottom, you reach down deep into your unknown strength, and you find your courage. You start looking in places for ideas that could help you grow as a person. People shouldn’t be afraid to fail, because only after you make a mistake you can truly learn from it and grow as an artist.

Every industry iterates and seeks improvement. What changes would you like to see in the industry going forward?

To give more opportunities to independent filmmakers and not have them chase the name game of who they need to hire to be able to sell their movies. With so many streaming platforms I feel like the industry has changed and the content they are buying is no longer just about names but about quality. I’d like to see the same change happen to the indie market and allow lower budget productions to just make the films they wish to make without sacrificing their vision and feeling the pressure to hire certain actors just so that the international buyers can sell their film and make money.

You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?

I have a number of projects in the works from acting to producing; both are mediums in which I enjoy participating in the creative process. I am here to tell stories and whichever way I can endeavor in that voyage is one I love to take. Each one of them is unique and different in its own respective way. They all have a strong message that I am hoping to convey to the world. And my third medium is I’d love to direct one day. The more time I spend on set the more I see myself get deeper and deeper into the camera creative work and I can’t wait to tell my story through lenses.

We are very interested in looking at diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?

It’s a fact that women and people of color have a harder time raising financing for a film, and when they do, they raise less funding for their films — they’re more likely to make a film with a budget of less than $20 million than white men are. I think the more opportunities we give to diverse cast the more we can change this fact to more equal terms. If actors of color and women are given more leading roles they will raise their chances of equal pay with white men. Having a more diverse cast in film or a show opens more opportunities for the audience to connect with. It allows people to explore their identities freely without needing to conform to any stereotype depicted in a movie or a show. Such representation can help minorities realize that they are more than the stereotypes that surround them. At this time of our life I don’t think we should be dividing people because of their color. We are one. And have been for a long time.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

1. Just do it. Stop thinking how. 2. Be patient. It’s coming. 3. Fail with grace and learn from it. 4. Don’t take things personally. Sometimes it’s not your fault. 5. Never give up. If you give up that’s when your dreams end.

Can you share with our readers any self-care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.

I have to say that my main exercise that I’ve have been practicing since I was three years old is ballet class. When you are a trained ballerina every morning you start your day with that ballet bar. That desire to stretch and move your body in a certain way, it stays with you for the rest of your life. I’m an athlete, and my body needs that training or my muscles start to ache. Even now, I still stretch every day and try to exercise my muscles with dance movements or Yoga. On top of that, my new physical training I’ve been kind of intrigued by is kickboxing, martial arts, and film fighting. It’s a great pleasure to know that in an action film, I can do the scenes by myself more than what’s required from an actress. I’ve been trained by the best sensei Benny “The Jet,” who trained only the top people like Jackie Chan etc. Today I continue my training with many other fighters and trainers. Each and every one teaches me something new every time.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

No matter what happens today, tomorrow will come. I learned to not lose patience or faith and that life is like a roller coaster ride, it will go up and down when you least expect it. But the next day always comes and it brings us new opportunities, new ideas, and new people to meet. ‘Tomorrow simply becomes a day closer to your dream. So don’t live in the past, live in the future.’

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Being Ukrainian I would suggest to everyone around the world that world peace is the most important thing for us human beings. Stop the wars, protect each other, and cherish the environment we live in. In all problems, there is a non-confrontational solution. We need to find answers that don’t lead to wars, fights, and conflicts that would damage this society. If we don’t solve these problems, the only thing left will be hate. This planet is our core so let’s value our existence and protect the world.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

I have a few people I’d love to have lunch with. One of the top people I really want to meet with is Ted Sarandos CEO of Netflix. If I had a chance to sit down one on one with him I think I’d ask him to make a deal with me as a producer and an actress and be able to make movies or shows for Netflix without having to worry about selling my projects. I would also love to one day have lunch with the great director James Cameron. One of my favorite movies of all time Is Aliens and it would be a dream come true to hear more behind the scenes stories on how it was made. And of course it would be an absolute honor to have a chance to work with him on something in the future. It’s a dream of mine to have lunch with Meryl Streep one day and ask her all the questions and secrets about your long and successful career and how she created her such memorable characters.

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

IG: natalie_burn

Facebook: NatalieBurn01

Twitter: NatalieBurn01

Website: www.natalieburn.com

Social Links:

http://www.twitter.com/natalieburn01

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2238248/

http://natalieburn.com

https://www.youtube.com/user/NatalieBurn1

https://m.facebook.com/NatalieBurn01/

This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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Ming S. Zhao

Ming S. Zhao

Co-founder and CEO of PROVEN Skincare. Ming is an entrepreneur, business strategist, investor and podcast host.