Interview: Natalia Stines, Conversation with a Model
Natalia Stines is 5’9, and that’s before she slides her well-moisturized feet in a pair of stylish, high-heeled pumps. Her long, pretty face is accentuated with a pointy chin, expressive eyebrows, and a pretty smile. Born in Pétionville in 1989 (she actually has a twin brother, Stéphane), Stines is the daughter of the late film director, screenwriter and actor Raphaël Stefan Stines and the actress Jennifer Aladin Stines.
In her senior year in college, Natalia (she is known as Stefi among family members and childhood friends) is working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Dietetics and Nutrition.
Juggling college and modeling isn’t exactly child’s play, but Stefi is more than determined. She wouldn’t have gotten so far, had she not had some serious gumption. The charismatic model ushered us into her world, if only for a moment.
Tell us about yourself. Your childhood. There’s so much about my childhood that was amazing, that it’s hard to describe it. But my favorite was touring on a big bus with all the big actors at that time with my mom and dad. Going from city to city in Haiti doing shows and staying at beautiful hotels. I remember most being at the beach all the time and how beautiful it was. I really loved Haiti and in 1998, when I was nine, my brother and I were sent to America to live with our grandparents in Miami, Florida. I remember how sad I was but at the same time excited for newer opportunities. Being in America was a struggle for me. I didn’t fit in and I got made fun of and bullied for being nerdy and so skinny. I remember crying a lot, but I was always able to think to myself: “It won’t be like this forever.” When I was in America, we went to New York and Boston for some shows as well as here in Miami. The shows were all comedy like the Tyler Perry-type shows. My father wrote the plays and since my mother was one of the actresses, I got to ride along on their tour bus to different areas where they booked a show but I can’t remember how often. I did go to school so I think it was maybe the summer I got to go with them.
At which point did you start modeling? I was always a tomboy. Since middle school up until my junior year in high school I played basketball so I’ve never really been “girlie” until my senior year when I was messaged on Facebook by a small agency in Clearwater asking me to meet up with them. When I started modeling around the age of 17, that’s when my confidence as a woman started to come out. I’ve never felt confident about my body until I walked into a casting room and suddenly, I’m no longer the thinnest girl in the room. I used to think it was a curse not being able to put on a pound no matter how much I ate but when it came to modeling, it was a blessing.
How do you define beauty? I honestly don’t think there is a definition for beauty. For what one finds to be ugly, another will find to be beautiful. But to me beauty radiates from the inside. It’s the look a person has in their eyes, the way that they carry themselves, the way that they treat another human being and the sincerity that comes from their heart. On the outside, you can be the most beautiful person but without any of those I’ve describe, my image of you easily becomes distorted. I may not be the most beautiful girl, but I do believe I am a beautiful person.
Many are under the impression that models are the most secure people in the world, but often that is not the case. In your journey as a woman, has it been easy to love yourself? It most certainly has not been easy to love myself and I’m not sure I’m quite there yet, but I am working on it. And it’s especially hard when society and everyone else around you is telling you that you need to change.
You’ve been modeling for a while now. What do think some aspiring models new to the scene ought to know about the industry? Honestly, I will say from my experience to always be confident—but not arrogant. Have a great, friendly personality. And this is most important, do not let rejection and criticisms bring you down, but learn from those experience. Whether it’s from the other models, directors or clients, learn from them and see how you can improve as a model. Was I just not the right girl or is it something I need to work on? Work on it and come back next time with more confidence.
What do you like most about yourself? What I love most about myself is nothing and no one ever defeats me. The only thing that can bring me down and has power over me is me. And God—of course. So what this means is: if I want something, I’m the only person standing in my way. I’m a very determined girl and I admire that about myself.
What do you hope to accomplish over the course of your modeling career? I hope for one thing to be able to leave Miami because Miami is a very limited market, but I love runway and I hope to simply be successful and walking the top runways in the world.
What’s the best thing about being Haitian? The best thing about being Haitian. This might seem strange, but I have to say, the language. Creole is such an expressive language. There are times when I am trying to explain something, but I can only find the words in Creole. Or when outsiders hear my family and I having a conversation, they always assume we are arguing, but I tell them we are actually having fun talking to each other. When you speak Creole, there is so much expression that accompany those words; that’s why l love Haitian theater so much and why I will never leave a show without crying my eyes out from laughing so hard.
Is there an art to putting an outfit together?
There most certainly is an art to putting an outfit together, but unfortunately I lack that artistic talent. I am just a tank-top-and-jeans kind of girl. But if I dohave to dress up, then I will put on a show.
Is the modeling world a dog-eat-dog world? Or is that just hearsay? It is and if you don’t have a strong backbone then you will most likely go insane.
Would you call yourself a feminist? Unfortunately, I cannot answer this question without going into another topic and next thing you know, I’ve written a book and caused some controversy. So it’s best that I plead the fifth on that one.
Since you’ve been modeling, what has been your favorite and best assignments? I love runway and whenever I get a chance to be on a runway with music playing and a stellar designer outfit on, I am happy. But for me, my favorite assignments are when a client doesn’t expect much from you and you surprise them. I got booked [on] a job once based off some of my images and when I showed up to the shoot, the client said, “Oh, but you’re black. I didn’t want a black girl but we’ll have to make it work.” Well, I rocked that shoot and the client was more pleased than they had originally envisioned when they first booked me.
Instructions to my future husband…have soul, compassion, make me laugh and be beautiful.
You know I’m mad when…words don’t come out of my mouth.
Three things I certainly can’t do without…food, my bed, my car.
The last book I read was my Biochemistry book and now I understand how our bodies work.
When I sing in the shower, it usually is…”I Wanna dance with somebody” by Whitney Houston
I’m the one people usually come to when…they need a good listener, not advice.
If I knew today was my last, I’d…drive through a poor neighborhood and donate all of my precious belongings. Then since my dream of being a singer will never come true because I can’t sing, I’d find a karaoke bar and embarrass myself.
The three words that most definitely describe me…strong, sassy and sweet!
When I was in high school…I was a nerdy tomboy who blossom into sexy young lady, but still nerdy.
My idea of a perfect day…I am alone most of the time so my perfect day is going home to spend the day with my family even if they drive me crazy.