There’s a saying that Trinidadians are like salt – you can find them in just about everything. And as Trinis, we know that to be true. We claim international rappers Nicki Minaj and Cardi B. We danced ‘the Carlton’ right alongside Alfonso Ribiero. We supported Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as our own. And that’s just the beginning of the list. So it doesn’t shock us when we find another Trini making a name for themselves. In fact, we’re pretty used to it by now.
This summer’s newest blockbuster Ocean’s 8 features an all-star cast of Hollywood’s best actresses. Alongside names like Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham-Carter, Rihanna, Awkwafina, Cate Blanchett, Minky Kaling and Sarah Paulson was another name – albeit one less recognized: Nathanya Alexander. And the minute the petite actress appeared on screen, we just knew she was a Trini. Sure enough: we were right.
Standing at only 4″11, Nathanya certainly commands a larger presence on-screen, but it has more to do with her personality than her stature. Her short (but sweet) cameo as Rihanna’s character, Nine Ball’s younger sister won the hearts of not only us, but those all over the world.
In fact, international women’s media company Refinery 29 even dedicated an article to the Trini actress, simply stating: The Best Ocean’s 8 Heistress Was Nine Ball’s Little Sister. So with all of the world’s eyes on Nathanya, we were quick to reach out and learn more about yet another impressive Trini woman. And today, we’re sharing it all with you.
XX readers, it’s time for you to meet Nathanya Alexander.
XX: TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOU!
NATHANYA ALEXANDER: I am a young actress from New York City. I love reality TV, specifically dating shows. I enjoy simple things like: picnics, long walks, and cooking. I am the oldest of five and I am the only girl, which explains why I am so tough at times. Overall, I’d say that I am sweet, caring, talented, and witty.
XX: WHAT ARE YOUR TIES TO TRINIDAD?
NA: My entire family is from Trinidad. They’re from St. James. I was born in Brooklyn, New York, but the Caribbean blood is in my veins!
XX: TELL US ABOUT YOUR ACTING CAREER?
NA: I have been acting for nine years. I started off in a community theater program and that’s where I discovered my love for acting.
Then, I went to LaGuardia High School for Performing Arts, which is one of the top performing arts schools in NYC. My training there was amazing. I learned Shakespeare, how to break down a script, character development, on camera techniques, voice & movement, musical theater, dance: tap, jazz, etc., how to perform on stage, theater management, working behind the scenes, and so much more.
Training is something that actors have to continuously do to become better so I am always taking classes and practicing.
XX: HOW DID YOU GET CAST IN OCEAN’S 8?
NA: I went on the audition for it and then from there I got called back to audition a few more times. When I heard that I got the role, I was ecstatic!
XX: DID THEY ASK YOU TO USE A “TRINI” ACCENT IN THE FILM?
NA: They asked for a “Caribbean” accent. My character and Rihanna’s character are sisters, both from the Caribbean. I didn’t have enough time to perfect the Bajan accent so I chose to do a Trini accent. I’m happy that I got to represent my country and just the Caribbean in general.
XX: HOW DID IT FEEL TO STAR ALONGSIDE SUCH INCREDIBLE ACTRESSES FOR YOUR FIRST REAL MOVIE?
NA: That’s the thing; I couldn’t take everything in because it didn’t feel real at all. It felt like I was dreaming honestly. The experience was amazing. I am so honored that I got the chance to work with such fierce, talented, and badass women.
XX: TELL US.. WHAT IS RIHANNA, THE CARIBBEAN PRINCESS, REALLY LIKE?
NA: Working with Rihanna is something that I would never forget. It was truly special to me because it was like working with an older sister that I never had. She is dope!
I remember listening to “Sledgehammer” and “American Oxygen” before the audition and callbacks and those songs gave me the confidence to walk into the room and kill it.
XX: YOUR GRANDMOTHER, LUCILLE ALEXANDER, WAS THE FIRST TRINIDADIAN WOMAN TO DANCE THE LIMBO INTERNATIONALLY. WHAT WAS HER INFLUENCE ON YOU?
NA: She was just overall a boss lady and she built a legacy. She taught me to always be myself, to live freely and chase my dreams.
XX: WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT BEING TRINI?
NA: Trinidad is such an upbeat and fun island. I love the history, calypso, the food, steel band, and no one can party like a Trini! My family get togethers are always LIT!
XX: HOW DO YOUR TRINI ROOTS DIFFERENTIATE YOU FROM OTHER ASPIRING ACTORS?
NA: I just think that me being able to go in and out of different accents, specifically my Trini accent, gives me an advantage based on the role that I am auditioning for.
I learned a lot from the strong Trini women in my family so that just pushed me to follow my dreams and go for what I want and deserve.
XX: YOU LIVE IN NEW YORK WHERE THERE’S A BIG CARIBBEAN DIASPORA. DO YOU STILL FEEL CONNECTED TO HOME?
NA: Most of my Caribbean family lives in NY. It’s nothing like being in Trinidad but I always feel connected. There are Caribbean people everywhere in New York. The Caribbean restaurants are amazing here too. Shout out to Ali’s Roti Shop!
XX: WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?
NA: More work, it don’t stop! I am hoping to continue film and hopefully make a television debut soon!