Attend any fabulous event for Naturalistas in the New York City area and the person filming the event will most likely be Natasha Gaspard. And it’s no wonder why. She is a talented film maker, whose demeanor is laid back, charming, and very professional, not to mention how beautiful she is. I was interested in knowing how Natasha became interested in film and filming Naturalistas in particular. Here’s what she had to say:
How did you first become interested in film?
I became interested in television when I was in college. I volunteered to act in a student project and I had to meet them in the basement where I soon found out that our school had an actual full-fledged television studio! I was completely fascinated and I wanted to learn how everything in the studio worked. I immediately started asking questions about the studio and what other classes they had under this ‘Communications’ major I knew nothing about! Under the students’ advice I took the Mass Communications class that next semester! It all started for me when I took a chance by volunteering on that student’s project, which introduced me to a whole new world of television. Who knows what I’d be doing today had I not taken that leap of faith.
What was the deciding factor to pursue film as a career?
The deciding factor was when I realized that I didn’t want to do anything else. I came to realize, that everything that I had a passion for, I could do through television. It was a way for me to get my ideas out there and to spread information to the world.
Where did you go to school? What did you like most about the school/program you studied under?
I majored in Communications with a concentration in Film & Broadcasting at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY. I originally majored in psychology mostly b/c I was always fascinated about how people think and how thoughts influenced behavior. I also didn’t have a clue on what I wanted to do with my life at that time, so I went with psychology! Once I took Mass Communications I was hooked! I changed my major from Psychology to Communications immediately! My Mass Communications professor, Dr. Lynne Jackson, inspired me to learn more and more about television. She believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. I loved her classes and how she always challenged us to think and dig deeper to find answers! Some of the other classes offered under the Communications major was Directing, Acting, Advertising and Video Production. I remember learning in one of my television classes about the importance of what is being shown on screen. When the camera is pointed towards something it also means that something else isn’t been shown. That is always a conscious decision that is made by either a producer of director. I can’t help but to think about all of the content on television what is and what isn’t being shown on purpose and why. I realize now that this simple concept is what motivates me to consciously show what isn’t usually shown.
How did you first become involved with shooting natural hair events?
I’ve always been interested in natural hair and thought our beauty deserved the same importance and recognition as anyone else’s! However, there were not any television shows that celebrate our beauty so I decided I would produce the type of content that I wanted to see. I believe the first event I covered was Naturally Curly’s Pool Party. I covered the event, interviewed the attendees, the featured stylists and the organizers. I got great feedback on it and I’ve been covering lots of natural hair events around the country ever since.
What is a common thread you find in these events that observed as a film maker?
The most obvious common thread I find at these events is natural hair but not just the fact that there are naturals in the room. It’s the enthusiasm these women have about natural hair. There is such a love and appreciation for these events. It is exciting to be a part of this current movement that is taking place and women all over want to be a part of something great. It is truly a sight to see when natural women are in the room together socializing, networking and sharing hair stories…. its electric!
How did you come to work at BRIC and what is your role there?
Before I started working at BRIC I became certified to use their television studio, camera and editing equipment as a Free Speech Community Producer. As a resident of Brooklyn, you have the opportunity to produce your own television program on their community cable access television network. As I said before, I wanted to see natural hair on television so I came to BRIC to make that dream come true. While there, I saw a job opening for an associate producer for the Brooklyn Independent Media side of the company. I applied, got the job and have been working there as a producer since 2006. Right now I am one of the producers on the new daily live television program called BK Live where I am show producer and I also produce segments for the show. I am also looking forward to debuting a new television show there all about natural hair! Stay tuned for more details on that! (BK Live Segment Featuring Anu Prestonia of Khamit Kinks. (You can also watch past episodes of BK Live by clicking here.
Are you working on any independent film projects?
Mane Moves TV is my independent venture. In addition to covering events, I’m interested in producing more tutorials with professional stylists, and other relevant natural hair programming. Its still in the works but I’m very excited about what will be taking place with Mane Moves TV in the near future. You’ll have to stay tuned to find out what we have in store!
Tell us about “Make Me a Naturalista”
Make Me a Naturalista (www.facebook.com/MakeMeANaturalista) is a co-production between myself and Yardley Messeroux, formerly of The Coil Review. We created this natural hair makeover web series in 2012 to help women who are facing issues with their hair. Many of the women we talk to still struggle with transitioning to natural. Even women who have been natural for years still need support and guidance when it comes to styling and maintenance. We pair the Naturalista hopefuls with a natural hair care specialist to address their specific needs and we mostly provide encouragement to these women who want to be their authentic selves. A lot of the time we’re also helping women to embrace their natural texture for what it is and working to dispel myths and misconceptions they and the audience may have. All in all we’re natural hair advocates who help bring information to women who need it and help them achieve their natural hair goals! Our very first episode was shot at Khamit Kinks and we so honored to have Master Pioneer Anu Prestonia give guidance to our Naturalista in the making about her natural hair!
(Episode 1: http://youtu.be/yuv3YCXmRSI)
What inspires you outside of film, what hobbies to do have?
With all the work that I do on the side already there really isn’t time for anything else…lol. I work full time and then I’m working on Mane Moves TV and Make Me A Naturalista on the side. I’m also part of a natural hair advocacy group called The SuperNaturals and we produce natural hair workshops and events. I do have another passion that I’m currently in the process of pursuing but it’s still tied to television. I’m very interested in producing content about Haiti. I am Haitian-American and I think it’s important for us to tell our own stories. This is what I will be working on in the very near future.
Your own hair is pretty amazing. How long have you been natural and what was your impetus for going natural?
Thank you!! I’ve been natural since 2001 and I was inspired to go natural by the beautiful and talented Lauryn Hill! I admired everything about Lauryn Hill and I realized that she was natural AND successful. There weren’t many women at that time on TV with natural hair (actually I don’t remember any one) and later on she wore locs which I thought were GORGEOUS! It got me to thinking…could I wear my hair natural? The thought really never occurred to me…relaxers were all that I knew. I never had an issue with relaxers as far as breakage or scalp issues, so I never thought about NOT relaxing my hair. It was just something that Black women did…at least the women that I knew. I began to look around me for examples of natural hair and I couldn’t find anyone who wore their hair natural…not one! I began asking the women I knew if they ever would stop relaxing their hair and they looked at me like I was crazy! The more I thought about it the more upset I got at these reactions. Why so much disdain for our hair? Why so much animosity towards something that grew out of our heads? Why couldn’t our hair be seen as beautiful…especially within our own community? I began my journey by asking these questions and I started to look at myself and realized that I too had bought into this standard of beauty that straight hair was the only viable option. I decided right then and there to go natural and I never, ever looked back.
I happen to know you’re of Haitian descent. Does Haitian culture have an impact on your art form and how so?
I just visited Haiti for the first time in March 2013 and I fell in love with the country and the people. I think having Haitian parents impacted me overall and have definitely shaped the person that I am. I’ve always been fascinated by Haiti and the stories about the country and its politics for as long as I can remember. As I mentioned above I’m very adamant about us telling our own stories about our country and will be working very hard on doing that.
Is there anything I haven’t asked that you’d like to share with us? I think you covered just about everything!
Thank you for the opportunity for me to share some of my experiences with your readers!
Here are the links for Mane Moves TV: