As an Oakie, Natalia Ferreiro (Celia Alexandra Besore) ‘03 immersed herself in the arts, from painting to performing in every single show produced during her six years at Oakcrest. Today, she is an actress living and working in Los Angeles, California.
Natalia describes being a full-time artist as a life that “takes grit and courage, determination, persistence.. and it’s not for the faint of heart!” Nevertheless, she has dedicated herself to that life and experienced the reward that it can bring.
Natalia began her Oakcrest education from the 7th grade through graduation. She cherishes many great memories of Oakcrest shows, and recalls with particular fondness the rehearsals in the basement of the Yuma Street campus. She loved the sense of community that practicing in the tight space fostered. Performance highlights for her included singing “Wilkomen” from Cabaret, as well as several moments from one of her first shows: “My entire class donned handmade, hot pink felt skirts, tops and hats trimmed with faux white fur, mittens and white Keds,” she remembers. “We balanced plastic trays while dancing and singing to the classic, ‘Two for Tea’!” It was after that show, having received a compliment from an audience member on her acting, that Natalia’s eyes were opened to the real possibility of being an acting professional.
After graduating from Oakcrest, Natalia attended The College of William & Mary and pursued her love of the visual and performing arts. She built a diverse skill set in set design, acting, and voice, while also studying art history, painting, and drawing. Natalia had many opportunities to gain hands-on technical and artistic experience, from apprenticing under the set designer for a Summer Shakespeare Program to singing opera and musical theater at a summer arts festival, to acting and singing in musical theatre productions and benefit concerts After earning her Bachelor of Arts in Theater, Speech and Dance, Natalia moved to Florida and interned in post-production for the film Bella. This was followed by six months performing in an East Coast Non-Union Tour, which featured performance selections from various Disney musicals—Natalia had the opportunity to play Mary Poppins and Ariel. At the end of the tour, she moved across the country to continue pursuing a career in acting in Los Angeles.
Natalia started out in Los Angeles by getting involved with the Beverly Hills Playhouse, one of the city’s oldest acting schools. While there, she dove into Scene Study and learned about the three pillars of life as an actor: attitude, administration, and acting. Although the audition process can be grinding—Natalia explains that a callback for every five or six auditions is considered good—she has been able to exercise her talents and participate in rewarding projects.
Career highlights for Natalia have included playing a role in a short film created by an MFA student, performing as a series regular in a Stan Lee Executive Produced web series, singing opera as a special guest star on a Disney show, and acting in a short film that earned first place in the 2020 Russo Brothers Film Forum. She has also acted in national commercials, danced in Justin Bieber’s “Ghost” music video and on the AppleTV show Physical, and had a role in the movie The Laundromat (starring Antonio Banderas and Meryl Streep), among many other projects. She is currently working on finishing up her first feature film, which she plans to self-produce.
Several Oakcrest teachers left a deep impact on Natalia’s life. Her choir teacher not only conveyed the beauty of music to Natalia, but served as a role model of love of God and virtue. The Oakcrest theatre director gave Natalia confidence in her artistic abilities, assisted her in finding more opportunities to perform, and helped Natalia get her first voice teacher. Natalia also recalls late Oakcrest chaplain Fr. Ron Gillis. “He was wise, filled with the Holy Spirit, gentle, yet stern when need be,” she says. “Because of him, I was able to attend Daily Mass and regular Confession for six whole years; what a tremendous blessing! I miss him and always intended to travel back to Oakcrest to personally thank him for changing my life.”
Natalia is especially grateful for the way that Oakcrest formed her faith. To this day, she carries that formation with her and it has sustained her through the many twists and turns, sorrows and joys of her life. “This faith foundation has given me a sense of purpose, and has truly been the only solid, reliable foundation I’ve ever had in my life,” she says.
For Oakcrest students whose dream is to pursue a life in the arts, Natalia has some advice. She emphasizes the importance of kindness towards everyone and insists that in order to truly thrive, artists need to have a proper understanding of success: “Your purpose, goal or mission cannot be fame,” she explains. “Your goal must be to be the best version of yourself.” Other things that she says are important for the potential artist are humility, a constant desire to learn, and asking for help from mentors. And, of course, an appreciation for the people that helped you get to where you are today.
“You have been blessed to have spent your formative years as an Oakie!” she says. “Never forget from where you came. Never forget your roots!”