MEET & GREET WITH NAT GREGORY AT IMG
words Hugo Fernandes - interview, photography and fashion direction Filipe Phitzgerard - fashion assistant Joseph Parker - grooming Shamirah Sairally
Nat Gregory (Riches MGMT mother agency and IMG Models) is the seventeen-year-old Newcastle (Australia) heartthrob whose contagious charisma and heart-warming personality fill the room quite quickly without having to strive for it. With a beautiful beach-tanned skin and a golden-blonde hair, this boy from Down Under has just wholeheartedly entered the modelling world although his heart is aiming at the big motion picture screens.
Nicknamed “Nat Billy Black Snake” as a child by some local surfers, Nat is someone who we see a perfectly balanced combination of competitiveness, drive, and soul. He's a talented dude with a great heart. Nat has set for himself a goal and he continues to move towards it, and, although he realises life not always happens how or when we want it, he is willing to “go with the waves” and enjoy the dive.
Nat is the kind of guy who makes you feel comfortable and welcomed. He has no trouble in telling you stories of his child and teen years from the surfing adventures and the times he saw a shark to when he found a spider - Australian-size arachnoid - in his shower. He is open about his brief yet a real encounter with depression after a bad knee injury while playing rugby and he doesn't fail to share some of the bold decisions he has made to get where he is today.
As a teenager, Nat is still growing up and discovering what life is really about, but in the process, he is having fun. Making mistakes and learning from them. He is facing his fears like a pro and looking at the future where we feel he is looking at the older version of himself. Nat is a dreamer but also a “let's do this” kind of boy and with all that going on, we can't deny the smell of success carried by the waves that brought him from Australia to our shores.
We had the great pleasure of meeting, speaking and shooting with Nat where we found out about his story, what drives this young man, when and how modeling happened and much more. Upon his arrival at our photographer's home- the location set for the shoot- Nat is greeted by our editor Filipe and led to the prep room where they sit down for some coffee and a quick chat. Filipe mentions that during the interview process if Nat would like to say something but not have it included in the interview, he would have to say “off the record” and then share his thoughts. By the way, for those of you wondering, Nat did use “off the record” three times throughout the interview [wink] so we are holding some secrets back [wink wink].
Once we were all set and ready to go, the 'Record' button is pressed on and the interview starts, but even before we asked any questions, Nat broke the ice by throwing an “Off the record; Australia is very behind when it comes to fashion.” From that moment on we knew, 'this is gonna be a great interview!' Here is how it went down:
Credits opening image: Nat wears jacket DIESEL; bag MAISON MARGIELA at WWW.MRPORTER.COM; sunglasses W\L
Nat wears weatsuit QUIKSILVER; socks BURLINGTON; shoes CAT FOOTWEAR; sunglasses SHERIFF & CHERRY
Filipe Phitzgerard: That was just the perfect ice-breaker. To be fair, we have to agree, Australia is still getting there when it comes to high-fashion. You've been doing your homework.
Nat Gregory: Yes! [Smiles] It is just not the same as here in Europe or America.
F.P: Alright. So you're originally from...
N.G: Newcastle. Just north of Sidney.
F.P: And you are...
F.P: When and how did you get into modeling?
N.G: So, it was around Christmas time and I was working in hospitality [at a cafe] and as you do, I was happy and cheery and I guess I served the right guy. [Laughs] Philip Riches was in town visiting his brother and he likes to surf around where I live so, it was a case of being at the right place and the right time I guess.
F.P: I saw on your Instagram that you are a surfer, right? How did that happen? I guess that by living in Australian surfing is one of the common, and somehow inevitable, sports to do.
N.G: Yeah. When I was younger I hated the water because I always hated being cold. But I started surfing when I was seven years old and I did Nipper which is Surf Life Saving until I was about twelve. Then my dad bought me a new surfboard and I used to go out twice a day every day because I just loved surfing, even though I hated the cold water.
F.P: And did you ever compete? I think I saw a young version of you on Instagram and he had some medals.
N.G: [Laughs] Yes. I did compete for a few years but if you want to pursue professional surfing you have to really devote all your time to it and I felt like that side wasn't helping me on my social life. Like, I am still very competitive and when I was competing I would just focus on that and the other things got left out a bit.
F.P: So you don't compete anymore, right?
N.G: No. I started winning competitions when I was 14 and I competed for two years. When I was 16 I felt like I wasn't improving and wasn't having fun anymore. I just got bored with it, I guess. I always wanted to play Rugby league but my parents never let me. [Giggles] But then when I was 16 I asked my dad and he said “well, why don't you play?” and I was so surprised. I played for a year and I loved it. I had so much fun. I finished the season and then I had a very bad injury.
F.P: Oh wow.
N.G: Yeah. I hurt my knee really bad. Which took a massive toll on my emotional and mental health as well as I had to stay in hospital then all the physiotherapy so I was recovering from six months and that was awful. But that whole experience kind of gave me the motivation to surf again. I couldn't wait to just go and surf again. But that time of the injury was really hard. I had a bit of depression because I was super active and doing things all day and suddenly it all stops and I have to stay bed-bound or away from the water and the field. It was a challenging experience. So much changed when I injured myself. When you are out surfing all day you get really hungry, so I would eat a lot and well every day because surfing makes you that hungry, but once I had the injury and was recovering, I would eat a lot less or just not feel hungry. That messed me up both physically and emotionally because of the massive break in my routine.
F.P: That's pretty tough, man. Now that you have recovered, what is your surfing routine like?
N.G: I just like to go and surf without any pressure. And it's where I hang out with my friends and we chill.
F.P: Was there someone who inspired or motivated you to go into surfing?
N.G: My dad, but he was more annoying than motivating. [Laughs] No, no. My dad invested a lot in me to get into surfing. He pushed me a lot in going surfing every day and trying to get me into it more.
Nat wears necklace ROKIT VINTAGE; trousers AYCH
F.P: Does your dad surf as well?
N.G: Yes, he does.
F.P: Is he competitive as well, or no?
N.G: Oh yeah. I am quite a lazy person- [laughs] and my dad always pushed me to go and do things which is good because otherwise, I wouldn't do it.
F.P: We were talking a bit earlier [behind the scenes] and you mentioned you had dropped out of school. Can you share why and what that has led you to?
N.G: Yes, sure. I left school in year 11. I was putting a lot of effort into that year because I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I was into acting and public teaching, like working with kids, which I did some work experience in the field. But as school went on I was loving acting, however, school on itself was bringing me down. I was not happy or motivated anymore because I felt like I didn't really have their backing when it came to pursuing the things I really wanted. And I thought a lot about it. I kept thinking about going to university and I could not see myself there. Then I decided to drop out after year 11 and that was the best decision I've made so far. [Smiles]
F.P: How did your family respond to that? Because for a 16-year-old, that's quite a bold move.
N.G: Dad loves the acting stuff. He loves it because it's outside of the “blue-collar” world which is a massive thing where I come from. A lot of people drop out of school at year 10 or 11 and end up working on a Monday to Friday, nine to five job. When I told my parents, my dad, was very open about it. I was loving my acting lessons at school at the time and I told my drama school that I wanted to pursue it outside school. When I left I started doing courses and even though I haven't got any roles yet, this is something I really want to do. Modeling has taken over now because, well, this is happening. [Smiles]
F.P: And to be fair the fashion and film industry are not that far apart. So, modeling took off Christmas last year, right?
F.P: What's been going on since then? We know you were discovered by Philip Riches who is your mother agent and from then on you started being placed in London, Paris, and I guess Milan as well.
N.G: Yes. That's it! I am really blessed to have met Philip. He is super caring and professional and really looks after me. I remember I thought it was pretty odd when I was working [at the cafe] and Philip asked to see me outside- he asked my manager to speak to me- and I went outside and had an awkward conversation with him where he explains who he was and what he did and after speaking to my parents and doing some research on it I decided I wanted to do it and try modeling. As I said, I was in the right place and at the right time. [Laughs]
Nat wears hoodie CHEMA DIAZ; sunglasses KOMONO
F.P: That's so cool. And you've been doing shoots and editorials right, as well as, the Louis Vuitton show in Paris. Which was awesome.
N.G: Yes. I have been doing shows (St. James and Oliver Spencer SS20 in London) and then shoots and editorials.
F.P: How do you feel on set now when you are doing editorials? Often at the beginning of their career, models have a bit of trouble posing and behaving in front of the camera.
N.G: Oh, I had a lot less confidence at the beginning. I remember my first shoot was difficult because I got to the set and the photographer just told me to stand there and do whatever, and I didn't have much direction- if any- for that one. After I had done a few shoots I started to become more confident as well as seeing an editorial shoot as a place where I can bring a character into the set. I love the idea of creating characters and that is sort of acting on some level. I have become more comfortable in front of the camera because the initial ones were very awkward.
F.P: What has been the best shoot you have done so far?
N.G: This one with you guys. I felt so comfortable and it's just a great energy. [Smiles]
F.P: Oh wow. I feel honored. [Smiles] So, before going into modeling, did you ever think about it?
N.G: [Laughs] No, not at all. I mean, my mum would be like “you should do modeling” and I was like “Oh no, stop it!”
N.G: But no. Before being discovered I never really thought about it. Acting has been more of a thing for me so I never imagined I would be modeling or going into it.
Nat wears boiler suit L.F MARKEY; belt AMIRI at WWW.MRPORTER.COM; blue sunglasses SPILTMILK; black sunglasses PAWABA
F.P: Okay, let's do a quick-fire round.
N.G: Let's do it!
F.P: Best place in the world:
N.G: “There's no place like home.”
F.P: Worst place in the world:
N.G: Hmm, that's a hard one. Probably Croydon...
N.G: I went there for a test shoot and I did not feel safe. [Smiles]
F.P: I have to agree. What is the best day for you?
N.G: Waking up early and feeling fresh. Go surfing before breakfast then come back have breakfast and just chill with my friends for the rest of the day. The most perfect day would be when my 'home break is pumping' you literally just surf go home to eat and go back surfing. Oh, and carpark surfing...
F.P: 'Carpark surfing'?
N.G: Yeah. Like we go to a carpark and just hang out around the fire having some drinks and a good time while watching the sunset.
F.P: That's the dream life! Such a movie picture right now.
N.G: That's just life for us. [Smiles]
F.P: Best food in the world:
N.G: Meat pies! And coffee.
F.P: Worst food:
N.G: Olives. And I am not really a fan of deserts with a creamy texture.
F.P: One thing you can live without...
N.G: Meat. My family is vegan. I am not...yet, but I could live without meat. My parents are really creative with their cooking so we end up eating some pretty good things.
Nat wears hoodie CHEMA DIAZ; sunglasses KOMONO; shorts WEEKDAY
F.P: One thing you cannot live without:
F.P: What kind of music are you into?
N.G: Old hip-hop. I really like the poetry and lyricism in old hip-hop. I am not super into the new stuff but I still listen to it.
F.P: Are you into films or series?
N.G: I am but at the moment I have been trying to read more.
F.P: Oh, what are you reading at the moment?
N.G: “Boy Swallows Universe” [Trent Dalton] and I love how descriptive it is and because it is the story of a boy in Brisbane you can picture the places and just dive into it. It works with your imagination. I am really enjoying it.
F.P: What was the last movie you watched?
N.G: End Game – the Avengers. I loved Chris Hemsworth in it! He is just so funny in this one. End Game did have a lot of cringe moments, though.
F.P: What is your favorite movie of all times?
N.G: Django Unchained. It's so awesome.
Nat wears jacket DIESEL; bag MAISON MARGIELA at WWW.MRPORTER.COM; shorts WEEKDAY; swimming trunks SPEEDO; socks BURLINGTON; shoes HI-TEC; sunglasses W\L
F.P: Do you have a favorite genre or can you watch anything?
N.G: I can watch anything.
F.P: “Bridget Jones' Diary” and “Mean Girls”? Like chick-flicks...
N.G: Oh yeah. I feel like I have seen them all. I have three sisters so I have to watch that kind of stuff. I actually love Mean Girls. It's a fun movie.
F.P: If you could move anywhere in the world; where would that be?
N.G: South Africa. I have never been but I've seen the waves there and the wildlife is so cool. I would love to move there.
F.P: If you were playing a character in a big movie; what would that character be like?
N.G: Just someone with charisma and who's smart and loved by everyone around him. But nothing too series or too silly. I think it would have to be a light drama or something.
F.P: Top three actors:
N.G: Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, and Chris Hemsworth.
F.P: Favourite f-word:
Words: Hugo Fernandes
Interview, photography and fashion direction: Filipe Phitzgerard
Fashion assistant: Joseph Parker
Grooming: Shamirah Sirally