'The Baker and the Beauty' Star Nathalie Kelley on the Popular New Rom-Com
The Australian Peruvian actress talks about her lovable role in the new sitcom and discusses her indigenous roots.
In the new ABC series The Baker and the Beauty, Nathalie Kelley plays socialite and superstar Noa Hamilton, who — after a painful breakup with her cheating movie star boyfriend — falls in love with Cuban American baker Daniel Garcia, played by Victor Rasuk. The Australian Peruvian actress talked to People CHICA about the series, set in Miami but actually filmed in Puerto Rico, and shared behind-the-scenes anecdotes. "Latinos are the most fun people to be around," she says. "We would be dancing salsa together and there was always a lot of laughter and music. We're an all-Latin cast and had an all-Latin crew on an amazing, beautiful island."
She and Rasuk met three days before they started filming the show. "We had three days to pretend we were wildly and passionately in love with each other, and we had just met," she recalls. "We had dinner and we had a chat and I said, 'We need to accelerate this, let’s go dancing.' We went for a salsa dance, and the minute I saw him move I was blown away by what a great dancer he was. I told the producers, 'You gotta see Victor dance and we should put that in a scene.'" Noa and Daniel dance in a club in South Beach as they begin to fall in love on the show. "That club scene was initially scripted as me and him just locking eyes across the room. Dancing made it more fun — you really got to see our essence and personalities."
Kelley is thrilled with the way Daniel's family, the Garcias, represent the Latinx community on the small screen. "We are telling a beautiful story about a Latin family and we don’t often see that kind of representation," she adds. "This is breaking new ground. There was a scene where Rafael, Daniel's father, is comforting Daniel's sister Natalie and letting her know they love her no matter what. It was this beautiful, warm paternal scene, and I thought, 'Wow, I don’t know the last time I saw a Latin man being portrayed this way on TV, not as a criminal or a gangster or some hyper-masculine role. It’s so powerful to be showing this family to other Latinos and Americans, about how beautiful our culture is and how strong our love of family is. That’s something that unites people across all cultures."
The love story between Noa and Daniel also has a special spark. "Their connection is grounded in a lot of realness and authenticity, and Noa has existed in a world that can be very fake and superficial and she’s tired of it," Kelley says. "She has been burned in the past by people close to her and she is looking for someone real. That person is a baker from Little Havana who has everything she has ever wanted." The series has a sweetness to it — like the guava pastelitos sold in the Garcias' bakery — that has captured audiences. "I think the show is resonating with non-Latinos, too, because the Latin culture can be appreciated by anybody. It’s so fun, but at the same time [it's about] the love and connection between family, and love overcoming all odds. Those things are universal."
The actress, 34, is taking full advantage of this quarantine. "I have been using this time to take care of myself and enjoy being at home. I’ve been connecting with a few groups to help indigenous communities who are really suffering right now," she says. "I just did a post about a group that is putting up DIY hand washing stations in Oaxaca for the indigenous communities, because lots of Latin indigenous communities don’t have access to clean water. I’m trying to meditate on how I can help."
Kelley says she is proud to be an indigenous woman. "I was raised by my mother, who is Peruvian, and my grandmother lived with us. My grandmother still speaks Quechua, the indigenous language of Peru, the language of the Incas," she says. "I was raised to be very proud of not only being Peruvian but being indigenous, and I had a big fascination with my country’s history. When I was in school I did a whole thesis paper on the Incas and their history. I’m fascinated and really proud of my culture. Indigenous culture is often overlooked in Western schools, and we have a lot to learn from our indigenous ancestors."