Rae: Thank you for hanging out with me. First, if we were meeting at a coffee shop I’d be drinking a Mocha Latte with Coconut Milk. It’s time to switch to something a bit warmer. What would you order?
Nathalie: A dirty chai!
Rae: First, congratulations on the 2018 Gold Telly Award for “Colombian Women’s Prison” story. Everyone needs to watch this – what you show us is so powerful and moving. Despite how exhausted you said you were in a behind the scenes video it tugged at my heart long after I watched it. If that program is so successful, I wonder if other countries might start something similar? I don’t want to spoil it for readers so if you’re interested go here.
Nathalie: Actually this program is a copy of a similar program that started in prisons in Milan, Italy. So, clearly, the model works. I just wish more countries and justice systems approached criminal reform this way.
Rae: How did you get your start in journalism? A while back you shared clips from your earlier days of reporting on social media and I hope it was well received.
Nathalie: I studied broadcast news at University of Colorado, Boulder, and started off in entertainment reporting in my hometown of LA. I hated it, though, so I moved onto reporting for local tv stations in lifestyle content, as well as traditional reporting when they needed it. It’s a long process to get started in broadcast journalism – all in all I was hustling in those two arenas for about four years.
Rae: I discovered you on YouTube as The Travel Muse where you shared some inspirational, informative, and exciting videos from your travel adventures. I’ve also added a few destinations from your video, thank you :).
Nathalie: Yaaay! That’s a labor of love and the thing that started this whole digital travel direction in my career. It’s tough to maintain with my real job, though. I wish I had more time to dedicate to it.
Rae: I look forward to watching more videos from The Travel Muse. What sparked your desire to start your own channel?
Nathalie: I had always wanted to do travel journalism, and when I was working for CBS in San Diego I got really fed up with traditional broadcasting, so one day I quit my job. I started The Travel Muse channel right away, hoping that it would position me in the travel space moving forward. It indeed worked that way, but even that process took a really long time! I worked a side job at a dental office and simultaneously ran The Travel Muse for three whole years before anything happened in my career.
Rae: How much writing do you do before you film your segments as a travel journalist for Circa? When you are traveling, do you take an interpreter?
Nathalie: My job is 90% video based, and I only do writing on the back end for the circa.com website, after the story has been edited together. Before I go, though, I research A LOT. I have general ideas and storyboards for how I want to accomplish a story before I do it, but you can’t plan too far ahead. Shoots very often don’t go the way you planned or envisioned, so you have to be adaptable on the fly. And yes, I hire what’s called a fixer for international shoots. Fixers are people who help and facilitate every step of the production process, including translating. They also find sources, conduct pre-interviews, arrange transport, make sure the team is fed…basically, they’re my right hand people. They are the experts in their own countries, and without their help I’m totally dead in the water.
Rae: I love how you connect with travel enthusiasts on social media. I love your Instagram stories, especially the ones with all the animals. Are you ever worried that something will go wrong, animals are not predictable ;)?
Nathalie: No they’re not! But not really. The interactions I have with animals are usually through my fiance Evan, who is a veterinarian and super duper animal expert. After 11 years with an animal expert I’ve gotten used to animals, but still I keep in mind they could decide not to cooperate.
Rae: How often do you travel?
Nathalie: So this varies A LOT. For Circa, I used to travel a ton – maybe once every 6 weeks. That has slowed down as Circa is going through some huge transitions, so it’s been many months since they sent me out anywhere. I’m hoping that changes soon! For my personal travels, I usually do two international trips a year (provided I have enough vacation time!). This year, I’ve already done two (quick) trips to France, and will be doing Spain in a few weeks!
Rae: Any tips on packing or how to prep for a trip?
Nathalie: I have a packing tips video on my channel, but it’s old now. I actually have plans to shoot an updated version, based on how I pack for Paris!
Rae: I look forward to that video. I love Paris and hope to return for another trip soon. Recently you offered up the chance for a handful of people to travel with you on a trip to India if I recall, will you be documenting that trip?
Nathalie: This trip didn’t end up happening, unfortunately. It’s tough to partner with outside companies for travel – in this case, it was a charity. For many reasons, the trip fell through, but it has always been my goal to do this kind of thing where I invite people to join me on a trip. And yes, I document all my travels!
Rae: I hope one day I can join you on a group trip. I find your trips to be everything and more. When you sit down to write for your segments, do you have a writing ritual or secret location to get the work done?
Nathalie: Nothing special – my desk. If I have no other distractions it tends to come out more easily. I’ve tried writing at home in front of the TV or when I’m just lounging around, but I get easily sidetracked that way. Sometimes I get brainstorms in random places, like on a plane, and then I start jotting down script notes in my phone. But generally, having the set intention of sitting down at my desk TO DO WORK is the best bet for me.
Rae: How do you tackle plotting your videos? Is it on a massive board, sheets of paper or just write as you go with a simple outline?
Nathalie: I do what’s called “writing to video” meaning, I review what video elements I have after a shoot, and write based off that. It makes it much more streamlined and makes sure that the story is entirely driven by the visuals. If I’m having trouble seeing a story structure, I like to use color coordinated post-it notes and put them up on a wall, with each color representing a different stage of the story. That’s a SUPER efficient way to see if you have holes in your story structure, because the colors show you where you need to flesh out or pull back.
Rae: I belong to a few Facebook groups for planners and organizing to stay focused and succeed in my personal goals for 2018. How do you keep it all from spiraling out of orbit? Are you a planner girl or digital calendar queen?
Nathalie: I’m an obsessive to-do list person! I feel like I can’t function if I don’t have my lists. I try to be a calendar person, plotting out my events and tasks in a cute calendar book I buy every year, but I always end up not using it. I have to-do lists of every kind: big life goal to-do lists, daily to-do lists, Circa to-do lists, personal to-do lists….I feel like if it’s not set out as an intention on paper, my mind can’t organize it. I do them before I go to bed, or when I feel stressed out. Someone once said to me that it would actually cause them stress to write a to-do list before bed, but for me it’s the opposite. It’s like putting it on a to-do list frees it up from swirling around in my brain, so I no longer have to remember it or stress over it. It’s on the paper, therefore my mind can let it go.
Rae: What can we expect in 2019?
Nathalie: My goals in 2019 are to get more focused on my personal projects through The Travel Muse. I want to breathe new life into my Youtube channel, which is sorely neglected. I have ideas for merch, and possibly holding journalism workshops. I’d love to also partner with other journalists who are many steps ahead of me and learn more from them and grow my craft. Evan and I have plans to work together. And much more traveling! I have three destinations for personal travel already kind of planned out. Lots to look forward to! And then of course, there’s all the other unplanned stuff that will happen, because life really couldn’t give a damn about our plans!
Rae: That sounds amazing! I look forward to hearing more about your merch, workshops, and watching your videos to add to my ever expanding travel destination wish list. Thank you again for hanging out. Safe Travels :).
1. What is a must read book and why? Eat, Pray, Love. Don’t roll your eyes! It’s the bible of all ambitious women with a bug to explore the world and themselves. Elizabeth Gilbert is one of the most gifted writers of our generation.
2. What is one place that I should see if I visit your hometown? Malibu! There’s so much nature and stunning view points to visit. I think most people don’t associate LA with nature, but we’re a very outdoors-y city.
3. Do you take-in or cook? If so, what is your “go-to” dish? I do not cook, but I used to. When I had more free time outside of work, I loved to cook dishes I discovered during my travels. Italian is the best food on earth. But today, I don’t eat meals, just snack on all kinds of prepared foods or salads I buy from Trader Joe’s.
4. What is one thing readers would be surprised to know about you? Hmm. I’m super shy, and it used to be a big problem when I was younger. It’s something I’ve had to consciously work on and it gets easier as I get older (I”m 33 now) but still there are times when all I want to do is melt into the wallpaper! Also….I used to be a ballet dancer. How’s that for a non-sequitur!
5. Hard Rock or Classical? Favorite Band or Artist? Classical. I don’t have a favorite band or artist, I kind of listen to all of it. I love 60’s Motown, Bossa Nova, early 90’s hip hop, lots of electronica.
6. What is your guilty pleasure? Some trashy TV shows 🙂 I LOVE a show called 90 Day Finance on TLC, plus a whole slew of Bravo shows. I really do feel guilty after I watch them, though, so I usually follow them up with CNN or Vice News. HA.
7. What are you afraid of? Other people. Break-ins, and the like. I both love and hate change, but I usually approach initial change with fear. It’s not good, and I’m trying to change that.
8. Tats or No Tats? If tats, how many and what did you choose for your first one? No tats for me 🙂
9. Organized or Free Floating? Both. Life is all about balance.
10. Binge watcher or weekly viewer? Which show(s)? Binge! If I love something, I can’t break away from it.
11. What’s on your playlist? Right now? I’m rotating Marian Hill, Maluma, J Balvin, Tove Lo, Big Black Delta, Lil Silva remixes….
12. What play or musical do you want to see next? I’m really not into musicals or plays 🙂 I prefer concerts, especially those at the Hollywood Bowl. They have gorgeous summer concerts under the stars. The last I saw was a classical concert with pieces from Spain.
13. Are you a crafter? Not arts and crafts, if that’s what you mean. My craft is solely in video, professionally and personally.
14. What’s your favorite TV show and why? My all-time favorites are Mad Men and Downton Abbey. Both are poetry in their perfection of writing, casting, acting, etc. They hit every mark on the head. I’ve watched both through so many times I can remember lines now.
15. If you could pick a book you’ve read and make it into a movie, which book would it be? Oh geez that’s a tough one. I can’t remember reading a book that I haven’t adored that hasn’t already been made into a movie/tv show…
16. What’s your favorite movie of all time and why? There’s a rotating crop that includes Raiders of the Lost Arc, Star Wars (eps. 4 and 5), Dances with Wolves, Midnight in Paris
17. Would you rather see a movie in the theater or at home on DVD and why? At home. I like to get cozy with blankets and pillows and my favorite snacks.
18. What is the one thing you can’t live without? The ability to travel! It’s so cliche, but it’s true. I feel stiffed and uninspired when I don’t travel.
19. If you could invite 5 people to dinner (not friends and family – that’s too easy) who would be at your table? Where would you eat? This answer changes on my mood. Oprah, Anderson Cooper, Lisa Ling, Mozart, Christiane Amanpour. We’d eat at some gorgeous Italian restaurant on a gorgeous outdoor patio with gorgeous views, warm sun, birds chirping, and endless handmade pasta and bread that didn’t add a single pound no matter how much we ate.
20. If you could try any career for a day, what would it be? Funny thing – I’ve never once fantasized about a different career. I don’t even know how to answer this question!
21. Person you admire and why? Evan. He is drive, a total go-getter, and he sees his dreams through to fruition. It’s very inspiring.
Nathalie is trying to get dual citizenship with Spain! .
Nathalie is a digital producer and journalist with a beat in travel and human interest. She tells stories of travel through the behind-the-scenes human experiences on the ground, in countries like Thailand, Colombia, Japan, Georgia, and New Zealand. Besides filming on the ground, editing is her favorite part of the process because that’s where a story really comes to life!
A country that Nathalie hasn’t been to, but is dying to explore and report on, is Morocco (…and Peru, and Zanzibar…the list is long!).
Before working as a travel journalist, Nathalie was a news reporter for TV stations in Dayton, Ohio, and San Diego, California. She briefly worked in entertainment reporting for companies like E! and Entertainment Tonight, but always knew she’d follow her dream of travel journalism. She lives and works in her hometown of Los Angeles. ** Bio from www.circa.com ** Picture from The Travel Muse