Actress Nat (Nathalie) Kelley calls LA home now, but admits that she misses the Australian lifestyle. Having spent most of her life here, she still visits often, and we had the opportunity to connect with her when she was planning for her wedding last year and was sourcing some Pampa pieces to celebrate her heritage. There is something really special about Nat, with her tea ceremonies, her love for her cats, her free spiritedness, dancing and folkloric ways. We caught up with her at home for Mi Casa, to learn more about her connection to Peru, her travels and why she’s always so happy to come home.
SHOP THE LOOK
You were born in Peru, what are some of the ways in which you retain your connection to your heritage?
Even though I was raised in Australia my mother raised me to have a strong connection to my Peruvian family and ancestry. In my house there was always an abundance of Peruvian food, music, folkloric dance and history. My grandmother even speaks Quechua, one of the indigenous languages of Peru. More recently I have begun to organise a yearly tour to Peru for my friends as I am passionate about sharing my culture, as I believe we have so much to learn from their ancient wisdom and beliefs.
In three words how would you describe Latin American style?
Vibrant, Earthy, Textured
What do you enjoy most about living in LA now? Where are some of your favourite places to be?
To be honest, my favorite thing about living in LA and my favourite place to be is my home. It is my sanctuary, my favorite creative project and where my favorite beings in the world reside. My cats!
How long did you live in Australia and where? What are some of the things you miss about living in Australia?
I grew up in Sydney and moved to LA when I was 20 although I travelled through Peru, Argentina and Brazil for 3 years prior - I was pretty excited to leave Australia when I was younger but now that I’m older all I want to do is spend time there with my family and friends. Nothing beats Aussie lifestyle and culture, I love how we celebrate life and how we are there for one another. It’s something hard to replicate elsewhere in the world.
What are some of your favourite pieces in your home that bring you joy?
Obviously my Pampa rugs are my treasures and I know I will pass them onto my children. After that, my original 70’s disco ball is my most prized possession. I had been hunting for one online for years but didn’t want to pay a fortune, I found this vintage one for $150 on Craigslist and I am so proud I persisted with the search. Although it cost more than that to mount etc., once I turn my lights off and point the disco lights at it - all my troubles melt away. I also treasure my tea ceremony bowls and cups and pots. Drinking tea under my disco ball feels like the perfect summary of who I am.
Do you have any daily rituals you practice at home?
Tea ceremony is a practice I have cultivated over the last few years that grounds me and helps me find peace and calm in the present moment. I am also starting to practice Qigong on my balcony in the mornings, this is a new practice that is also bringing me a lot of peace and joy. A few years ago I tried it and felt frustrated that I was not catching on, it just was not resonating. These days I love and crave it. Hopefully it means that my pace of life has slowed down enough to appreciate its subtle but powerful benefits.
What are you in the process of learning more about?
Well I am still raving about a book I read last year by Michael Pollan called “How to Change your mind” - in it he confirms what I have long believed about psychedelics - that they have the power to heal and transform lives. I am so heartened that more and more research is being funded to back up what indigenous cultures have known for millennia: that the plant and animal world have an intelligence beyond our understanding and there is much to be learned from their medicines. I truly believe that the shift in consciousness we need in order to save this planet can be facilitated by proper use of these medicines. Even for those who do not need the psychedelic aspect of plant medicine, there are other ways to start syncing with the natural world. I use Kambo medicine (derived from the secretions of an Amazonian frog) to cleanse my body of toxins, pathogens, negative energy etc. And I am seeing big shifts in my life. (Kambo is NOT a psychedelic, just to be clear). After a year of sitting with this medicine I have cut alcohol completely out of my life and am slowly moving away from the consumption of meat -something I have struggled to do in the past. I credit this to the frog medicine inside me, reminding me on an energetic level that it’s home (The Amazon rainforest) is under threat and drinking alcohol is harmful for my body just like eating huge quantities of meat is not good for the planet. I’m witnessing a consciousness shift happening before my very eyes.
You are an avid traveller and we love following your adventures on Instagram, where to next?
Right now I am packing up my essentials before I move to Puerto Rico for 4 months to shoot my new show: Baker and the Beauty. These days I just want to be grounded at my house with my cats, yet work requires me to move around so much more than before - so I am learning to find equanimity and balance in this paradox.
We're so happy you felt a connection to Pampa. What drew you towards the Pampa pieces you chose for your wedding day which are now in your beautiful home?
When planning my wedding I had a budget for flowers and decoration and the more I thought about it the more I wanted to spend that money on pieces I could keep forever. So I had my mum design the bouquets at the reception (I had just gifted her a floristry course for Xmas) and we kept it simple, rustic and elegant with a focus on native plants. And with the leftover money I invested in a dozen beautiful Pampa rugs that now live in my home or in the homes of loved ones. Weaving is an integral part of my heritage. This is how my ancestors told their stories, weaving patterns on rugs, this is how they clothed themselves in woven ponchos hats and belts. It was a decision my husband supported, and as a result the wedding was warm, cozy and unique. The rugs I chose from Pampa were all in my chosen colour palettes of brown, orange white and black. Naturally dyed colours, the colours of a landscape burned into my memory and my heart, the colours of my ancestral home.
What are you currently learning more about?
I hope to experience as much as I can about everything, but I’ve mostly been trying to live in a place of sort of un-learning. I often think of how we were all born as pure love and we wore wonder on our eyes, soaking up everything ounce of life without necessarily trying to understand. We loved the flowers and eventually knew their names, but we knew the joy of the flowers so intimately before we knew what they were or what to call them. I feel there is so much magic in the being, and in the process of holding those things in that space of knowing them and letting that be enough. For me, it can be easy to feel disconnected with life if I am no longer observing with intention. In this season, my heart lives in the space of being human and holding everything as it is with love and wonder without having to name it, and letting things come and go as they are meant to and releasing the control of wanting to keep everything in metaphorical jars. We tend to put so much pressure on ourselves that we need to have everything neat and tidy and “figured out” all the time– but there is so much freedom in the unknown and so much richness living in question as opposed to collecting answers.
Photos: Britney Gill
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