16 Apr 2021
Film & TV

Snow in April: Natali Broods Recounts Failing Acting School and Getting Her First Role

“You act too small,” she once was told in acting school. Small, but great, so it seems. Flemish actress Natali Broods may have failed her class back in the day, but twenty years later, she holds up all the space in the room in her own gracious way. We invited the actress for a shoot and chat at the gorgeous suites of Aplace in Antwerp and made sure to keep things ‘small’. Or you know, with a touch of Versace and Beckham.

With five hours on the clock and five outfits to shoot, there’s not much time to waste. “Is it okay if we talk during make-up?” I ask as I take a seat on the toilet in the hotel bathroom. Nothing Natali isn’t used to with movie sets as her second home. “Of course,” she smiles. There’s not even a hint of stress to be seen.

Margiela MM6 turtle neck.

“I feel good. There’s a lot going on with COVID-19, and the fact that we have been in this situation for so long … It doesn’t feel complete. The world doesn’t turn like it used to. But I have to say, it wasn’t doing well in the first place. Considering the climate issues we are facing, it seems like we still haven’t learned a lot.” Even though Natali misses a lot of things, she feels like 2020 was a good year for her. “With theater company De Koe we finished our tour through France just in time before the pandemic hit. And to have been able to shoot Déjà Vu in between two lockdowns was so much fun. But I also love doing shoots like this. After all, my kids are healthy, everything’s going well, and it seems like better times are ahead.”


Natali currently shines in the new Streamz original series Déjà Vu. She portrays Flo, a radio host and women’s rights activist who loses her daughter and gets to travel back in time to set things right. Or so it seems. “And that’s what made this role so special to me. I get to play three roles in one. Little spoiler alert, but I got to do everything. I live, I die, I fight, have a husband, have a lover, be divorced and be together, lose my mother and see her back in life. That’s amazing. And the challenge was to keep track of everything. We didn’t shoot in chronological order, so I had to keep in mind: what do I know in this scene? How many years did I go back in time? What is my relationship status? Luckily, I had many talks with the director, and the script supervisor was very alert.

Saint E leather dress. Arket bracelet.

For example, at a certain moment, she gets to the hospital where her daughter is admitted. A moment she experiences multiple times, and we shot them all right after each other. When I got to costume change after the first shot, I was like, ‘Okay, I already experienced this. So in the next shot, I’ll be a little bit less present.’ Because when she first experienced that moment, she was overwhelmed. The second time not so much.”

And that’s where Natali truly shines. With a very intricate script, she managed to convey all the layers of her character to the screen. From very emotional to a bit distant. “That was very satisfying, to play all these emotions. And playing things that you haven’t experienced in real life, for example, losing a child, it’s very touching. The funny thing is—and again, spoiler alert—when I would die in a scene and return to make-up after, they would ask, ‘How was it?’ I’d say, ‘Good, I won’t have to experience that in real life anymore.’ (laughs) That’s not how it works, of course, but it gives you a sense of things.”


I couldn’t help but wonder if, given the chance, which moment in her life Natali would love to experience again. “My thoughts immediately go to S.. (editor’s note: Natali’s first movie role in 1998). At that time, I didn’t know if I wanted to continue with acting. But then someone believes in you. And you start becoming independent. I’d love to experience something like that again. But it’s not something you can look for. It just happens to you.”

Victoria Beckham dress. Versace choker. Steve Madden sandals. Messika earrings. Ole Lynggaard ring.

And thank god it happened, because Natali almost didn’t go through with her first role. “At acting school, they didn’t believe in me. My teacher (editor’s note: the late actress Dora van der Groen) told me that I act too small, and failed me. Then director Guido Henderickx asked me for S.. He told me that he had already cast a lead actress but wanted me to do it. ‘If you don’t do it, I won’t shoot the movie,’ he said. I came to set, was still in school and so … I don’t know, I want to experience that again. That moment when you’re like, ‘Hey, I love this!’ At school, there was competition between students, but when you’re on set, everyone is working towards the same goal. Everyone respects each other.” And then there was the very first scene. “It was with Dora: the teacher that failed me. So that was …” (laughs)


Fashion and acting don’t always go hand in hand, but Natali has a passion for both. “I love fashion. It’s a pity that going shopping in these times is difficult. Especially, you know, when I have a premiere, for example. It’s the highlight of a project, it’s very intense. So afterward I always allow myself to get something nice and I go shopping. I’m not that much of an online shopper. I want to feel clothes, touch them, try them on. And I hate doing returns; I’m too lazy for that.”

Boss coat. Alberta Ferretti boots. Margiela MM6 shirt and skirt.

But what does an actress who constantly wears the clothes of characters wear when she’s just Natali? “When it comes to style, I love to try new things and spice it up. Most of the time, my characters are a bit softer than I am in reality. I really enjoy Belgian fashion, but not exclusively. I love IRO, Oh, and Isabel Marant. That’s a dangerous one.” (laughs)

Natali’s eyes light up when she gets her eyes on a pair of Red Valentino boots for her next look. “Can I keep them?” she jokes. They would become part of a huge collection. “My sister always asks me how many pairs of shoes I have. Years ago, I loved going to stock sales. It doesn’t really appeal to me anymore, but I still have a lot of shoes from those times. Many of them are expensive, but I often managed to get them at bargain prices. It’s easy for me to spend money on pretty stuff. But then again, I recently needed a raincoat, and that’s something I refuse to spend a lot of money on. (laughs) I hate rain, and you’d think that if you buy a nice, good quality coat, you’ll be less bothered by the weather circumstances. But no, I was like, ‘Next time I’ll get a good one!’”

N°21 dress. Red Valentino boots.

As the hairspray covers Natali’s blonde locks, she’s ready to be welcomed back on set. But one question lasts. We’ve talked about going back in time, but what about the future? “Oh god, please, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know what’s on our plate. Career-wise, it would be amazing to keep getting roles like these. Something new every time. I love theater, I love film. But if I wouldn’t get any proposals anymore … You know, I admire people who suddenly flip the switch and do something completely different with their life. Sometimes I think about that. I don’t know what I’d do, but maybe something will cross my path.”

Margiela MM6 coat. Victoria Beckham dress.

Déjà Vu is available to stream now on Streamz!

Photography by Oriane Verstraeten
Production, art direction and styling by ENFNTS TERRIBLES Studio, Dries Vriesacker
Makeup by Mathilde Van Hoof assisted by Lena Dobbels
Hair by Nils D’Joos
Photography assistant Sherwood Nkwenti
Location: Aplace Antwerp

Interview and text by Lorenzo Veppi

Margiela MM6, N°21, Red Valentino, Victoria Beckham, Versace and Alberta ferretti are available on Zalando

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