Nathalia Ramos is half Spanish and half-Australian, not that there is any hint of the latter. The pretty teenager has scored the lead role in the Avi Arad-produced Bratz, in which she sings and acts in this adaptation of the ethnic dolls that have taken the world by storm. Ramos talked exclusively to Paul Fischer.
Question: What was the particular appeal of doing this and were you familiar with the source material, I guess you could say, the dolls?
Ramos: Well first off the appeal to me, what I loved about it right away, was the fact that not only did I get to act but I got to sing and dance and perform so it was all of the things that I love to do, all wrapped up into one. Like my Mom said, it was just a dream role. And I wasn’t very familiar with the Bratz. I never played with them or anything. I never had them. I knew of them of course but I never really thought much about them. And then when I got the part I started to do my research and I really got to learn a lot about this dolls and I really love them now. I think they portray a really great message to girls, even though some people don’t really look into that. And I think when you start to learn about the dolls they really do show a great message.
Question: One of the producers of this movie, Avi Arad, describes it as X-Men for girls. Do you agree with that? Does it have the same kinds of messages that boys love in those kinds of action movies that girls can find in this?
Ramos: I do. I mean I think it’s the equivalent of what boys would want. I mean boys like all that action and all that stuff that is in X-Men which is these characters come to life. And for girls it’s the Bratz. And they have such a big fan base already. I mean we’ve had so many girls come up to us and say ‘I’ve been waiting to meet Yasmin my whole life’ and they’re just so excited that their characters have come to life. And I think a lot more than we expected.
Question: Out of the four Bratz girls, what aspect of Yasmin can you identify with the most?
Ramos: Of course her singing – I’m a singer too so I love that. But most of all her family, her background. She comes from a very mixed multi-cultural family with different languages and cultures and religions and I love that. That’s how my family is. And I love that they have emphasis that in the movie. Because it’s so important to know about different cultures and learn about them and there are so many people that come from mixed families and I love that. I think that’s wonderful.
Question: This is a movie about cliques and groups and who’s hot and who’s not. I mean did you ever feel that way when you were in high school.
Ramos: Well I still am in high school. I just started high school when I filmed the movie.
Question: So how old are you now?
Ramos: I turned fifteen last week. So yeah I was fourteen when I filmed the movie and I was in my freshman year of high school. I love high school. I’m having the best time ever. But I see, I mean there’s cliques just at any – like I’ve been at a public school my whole life and you see the clicks and at lunch time everyone just naturally sits at the same table every day. You’re not assigned seats but people naturally go to the same table every day with that same group of friends. And I was the one who – everyone would be like ‘Sit down Nathalia, sit down, gosh.’ But I would just walk around with my sandwich and bounce from table to table and just say hello to everyone because I was friends with everyone. So I mean you can have that too. You don’t have to belong in a group.
Question: What do you love about high school so much?
Ramos: I love being with my friends. I mean I miss that a lot. I love what I’m doing but I miss seeing my friends all the time and I love lunch time and just the normality and gym classes. I just love high school and I have a really great group of friends.
Question: You’re a very strange and exotic ethnic mix. Which cultural facet of you do you closely identify with and which do you feel somewhat removed from?
Ramos: Well I’ve been fortunate enough that I haven’t lived in Spain or Australia in a very long time but I go back all the time and my family is still there so I mean every time I go back to Spain I go back to Melbourne. It’s like I’m home. So both of them are still my homes.
Question: So you’re from Melbourne right?
Question: When you go back to Australia do you feel Australian or do you really feel American?
Ramos: I’ve grown up most of my life in America but I’ve always felt Australian. I mean to me that’s home. I walk into my grandparents’ home right after land and it’s ‘I’m home’. When you walk on the plane and you’re still in LA and you walk onto, you know, the Qantas flight, and you have the stewardess saying ‘Oh G’day, welcome’. And they’re just so friendly and it’s like I’m going home. It’s always been like that. Australia will always be home. I don’t feel distanced at all.
Question: Where has your passion for singing and acting come from?
Ramos: I’ve always been singing – my brother just had his Bar Mitzvah and we put together a video to show at the. In every video clip I’m somewhere singing and dancing and performing. So ever since I could walk or talk, I’ve been singing. And probably from my dad. He’s a singer too. He’s a musician. So I’ve grown up with music and I’ve always loved it.
Question: How are your friends reacting to you being in this film?
Ramos: They’re so excited. They’re so happy for me. Because I mean, my real friends, they have known me my whole life. They’ve seen what I’ve gone through. They’ve seen me work so hard to get here and through all the rejections and everything they’ve always been there so now that it’s finally happening they’re so excited. They’re like ‘That’s my best friend’.
Question: Are any friends jealous that you’re in a movie?
Ramos: I haven’t seen any jealousy yet. I think they’re just really genuinely happy for me.
Question: How are you going to be able to balance high school with professional acting?
Ramos: Well it’s tough. I’m not going to lie. It’s tough, especially when I’m the only one that has to do school. All the other girls have already graduated. So it’s tough but it’s so important. My mum has always said ‘The second your grades start to drop it’s all over’. So I have that pressure. And I do want to keep up my studies. I know how important that is. And I’m not going to be another dumb actress. And I love learning too. So I manage.
Question: What are you doing next?
Ramos: Well right now I’m really busy with all the Bratz publicity. And then during the school year I’m in this program where – I’m in the independent study program at the local high school. So whenever I’m working I’m allowed to miss school and I meet with my teacher once a week and he gives me my work for the week. And then whenever I’m not working I can just drop right back into school and go to all my classes and everything.
Question: Do you have another job lined up?
Ramos: Well I’m looking at different things. I’d love to play a dramatic role now or do something like that. That’s great. And I mean hopefully Bratz 2.
Question: Ah. Well that’s my next question. Are you signed to Bratz 2 if there is one?
Ramos: If it happens I’m totally there.