Monday, 5 March 2012

Natalie Tran: Still funny, and very, very grounded

Natalie Tran
The past year has seen lean times for Natalie Tran fans. Natalie finally favoured the hungry legions by posting a short clip a couple of days ago, and promising more, but clearly Real Life has got in the way of Natalie's video-making activities, resulting in a long period of humourless browsing on Facebook, where her followers nevertheless react lightning-fast to the merest hint of Nataliness, quickly posting 'Likes' and comments that number often in the thousands.

Because she's a Sydney girl, the local media have taken an interest in her success. Most recently, Sarah Whyte, a journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald, caught up with Natalie to glean her views on a debate that has sprung up here in the Antipodes over the representation of minorities in entertainment and other highly-visible professions. The beef began a couple of weeks ago when New Zealand actor Jay Laga'aia complained publicly about being cut from the soap Home and Away. As the New Zealand Herald reported on 16 February:
New Zealand actor Jay Laga'aia has accused Australian network Channel 7 of axing him from Home and Away because of his ethnicity.
Laga'aia, who is of Samoan descent, has backed comments from Underbelly actor Firass Dirani, who accused networks of a "white Australia" policy and that actors on shows such as Packed to the Rafters and Neighbours do not reflect Australian society in 2012.
In typically humble style, Natalie responded to the interviewer by hosing down the situation but then gently admitted that she, too, sees a problem with casting and writing choices being made in Australia by people who make decisions at TV stations:
''I don't think that people watch others on YouTube because of how they look,'' she said. ''They [don't] watch someone because of their ethnic background.
''I am Australian, I was born here and raised here and it would be nice to see a cross-section [of ethnicity] portrayed on television.''
Whyte then did what other journalists have done in the past: made a video showing Natalie talking about her success, which has been extraordinary, to the point where she can make a living from doing what she has done - making funny videos - since 2006. Again, Natalie plays down her success, saying that the internet is
just a place where I can put up content and luckily I get an audience who come back. I feel more lucky than anything else. I get to do what I like and have people give me feedback. So it's a nice situation.
Natalie is such a grounded person, and one who is unlikely to succumb to the type of emotion-led public blow-outs that Hollywood stars routinely fall prey to. As she says in the video, she has definitely done the hard yards.
A lot of people kind of go, 'Oh, you make videos and you get all these hits.' But it's been six years or something like that, so it's very much been a snowball effect. It's been a gradual thing. When I started, the most-subscribed person on YouTube had 70,000 subscribers. I think now it's more than 5 million, or something like that. So the growth has been quite large in the audience. I started making vlogs back in 2006 and then it's just kind of progressed from there on.
Natalie's supporters have long memories and they're very patient, too. Despite an almost total lack of new videos over the past 12 months or so it's clear from watching how they react on Facebook that the appetite for the kind of content she makes is very much still there. The most likely explanation for the drought is that Natalie has been completing her studies and organising her life so that she can continue to do what she does so well. Whatever the outcome the one certain thing is that there are many, many people who await the next installment eagerly. It's kind of amusing watching the reaction when Natalie posts something on Facebook. The 'Likes' and comment roll in, numbering in the tens every minute, testifying to the loyalty she has built up by making screamingly-funny videos at home with basic equipment.

Natalie tells us in this latest appearance that she likes writing. It will be fascinating to see where that takes her in the future as she settles down and moves to establish - as no doubt she will - a career in the public sphere. Will she go commercial? Will she enter public life in some other way? Politics? TV? Right now the settings on her existential video deck are set to 'pause'. Just wait to see the reaction when she finally hits 'play' again.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

hi Matt, it's inspiring, thank you for posting this