We all know the age-old story of Beauty and the Beast. Well, now there is The Baker and the Beauty, a modern day take on the fairy tale with a cultural focus hitting television tonight. The ABC show, which airs Mondays at 10 p.m. EST, stars Victor Rasuk, Lisa Vidal, Carlos Gomez and Nathalie Kelley as international superstar and extremely wealthy Noa Hollander. It’s the perfect show to keep us entertained right now. “That‘s what I love about it; it’s feel good, but it’s real authentic in tone,” Nathalie tells HOLA! USA of the Latinx show. “It’s super relatable. Also, it’s a big win for Latin culture to be able to play on a show with an all Latin cast and to tell the story of a very loving Latin family.”
The Australian actress, whose parents are from Peru and Argentina, was a staple on the hit CW show Dynasty before joining this all-star series. “I‘m super excited that this is my next gig,” she says. “I feel like when I watched Crazy Rich Asians, even though I wasn’t Asian, I was like, ‘I can get down with that family.’ I understand the dynamics, and I understand their world. It was really powerful for me, and I feel like that’s kind of what this show is about in a Latin context.”
And with the show’s premise surrounding Daniel Garcia and his Cuban family’s bakery, food is obviously an integral part of the show. Keep reading to see how a gluten-free vegetarian like Nathalie made the role work for her and why during this global crisis she is turning to the kitchen and Qigong.
HOLA! USA: When you read the script and saw this is about a Latino family, was that a big reason you wanted to be involved?
Nathalie Kelley: “I call myself an undercover Latina because I have my stepdad‘s last name, which is Kelley, and then I have a thick Australian accent. I’m actually 100% ethnically Latina, my mom is from Peru; my dad is from Argentina, and my grandma still speaks Quechuan, which is the language of the Incas. I’m really deeply connected to my ancestry and my lineage. The fact that I could be a part of this story is such a big, proud moment for me and for my family too. I’m just really grateful to be a part of something that connects people to love.”
You play alongside Victor Rasuk. Tell us about that dynamic…
“We‘re so lucky to have him, and he and I have this really amazing, hilarious chemistry that’s part traditional chemistry part intense competition. It’s always good-natured. It’s interesting; it can go either way. Sometimes I’m like, ‘Victor, do you hear me? Don’t mess with me! Look in my eyes Victor.’”
You guys filmed in Puerto Rico. That must have been special…
“Yes, I loved it. The stages are in San Juan, but sometimes we would go to different parts of the island. In episode three, we go to Puerto Rico because Noa has a fundraiser there, she‘s putting in schools for children after the hurricane and she brings Daniel along with her, and so to shoot Puerto Rico for Puerto Rico was so fun. It’s such a beautiful episode.”
Was the set one nonstop party?
“In between takes we would put on the salsa and we would dance with crew and cast, and it was as fun as you would imagine making a Latin show with a Latin crew in Puerto Rico. How much more fun could you get?”
A big part of the show is the Garcia’s family bakery. Do you have a big sweet tooth?
“No, and I’m gluten free! It’s funny actually because I play Noa in the same way, so every time he’s offering her a pastelito or something in her subconscious mind she’s like, ‘Oh, I really can’t eat this, but I like this guy so okay.’ I also became vegetarian during the show. In episode four, I go over to his place for dinner and his family cooks a beautiful Cuban meal. One of the things they make is a Fricasé de Pollo. I was like I can’t believe I chose to be vegetarian right now and I’m smelling this! When I go home, every time I have a new diet my mom is like, ‘What are you not eating now?’”
Was there a reason you became vegetarian?
“It’s probably the hardest for somebody from my heritage to give up meat, and I did, and now I just wouldn’t go back. I used to eat animal products every meal. It was many reasons, but the big one that was kind of the tipping point to me was the environmental impact of factory farming of animals. I went home to Australia for Christmas and was there for the horrendous, tragic fires. It’s all part of a bigger equation, and I realized I can’t say I love the earth while I’m still eating animals. It was a real ethical decision to stop. I thought it would only last a few months, but I feel the healthiest ever as well. I’ve also noticed amazing benefits to my skin and for my hair.”
Have you been enjoying coming up with new recipes?
“It‘s such a luxury to be able to have the time and to be experimenting with new recipes. Figuring out how to feel satisfied in a flavorful way has been really exciting during this time off. I like to cook my own food pretty much all the time anyway. When I‘m working obviously that’s not possible always. I’ve been doing a [Peruvian] cilantro stew, and I think it actually comes from the Incas. It’s more of an indigenous flavor profile, so I’ve been making that same kind of cilantro sauce stew but with shiitake mushrooms and cauliflower. Don’t be surprised if I come out with a Peruvian vegetarian cookbook!”
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I’ve been using my time in quarantine to really dive into my very new Qi Gong practice, specifically this Eros-Bridge form taught to me by @eveladyapples. This beautiful form has been a source of healing and vitality for me, helping me to shift the stagnant energy and all the fear and grief that is coming up for us collectively. @eveladyapples is offering online classes (by donation) during quarantine so please see her page if you also want to learn this ancient healing modality and body science. And then I also want to announce that @brooke.brash, @isis_indriya and I will soon be starting our own online space where you can share your own rituals, from morning/evening rituals to beauty or ceremonial ones- a space for community and also classes. Who would be interested in joining us there? And what are some rituals that are keeping you sane and grounded during these times of corona? #qigong #ritual
A lot of people find comfort in food. How are you holding up during this very uncertain time?
“I pray over my food every day because I know hunger is going to be a really big issue right now with people not working. Food is a big one. We have all got to be very grateful for the food that we‘re eating these days. I’m honored to have the platform that I do to open up discussions about these things because I think, especially after corona, people are going to want to wake up and tune into what is really important. And what is important is our health, love, connection and the state of the planet.”
During this time, you also posted about Qigong helping you. “I’ve been doing it for the last six months, but now with quarantine I have more time to practice. It is a beautiful healing modality. It’s very similar to Tai chi. You basically are doing movements to move energy through your body and promote healing in your organs. I can’t speak more highly about it.”
The Baker and the Beauty kicks off tonight on ABC.