Nathalie Kelley: An Inside Look At The Life And Career Of The Australian Actor

Unless you happen to be familiar with beach volleyball Olympian Mariafe Artacho del Solar, Nathalie Kelley holds the rather niche distinction of being the world's most famous Peruvian-born Australian. The actor, who moved from Lima to Sydney at a young age, is perhaps best-known as Cristal Carrington in The CW's version of "Dynasty." But there's far more to her talents than playing uber-divas in iconic soap opera reboots.

Yes, Kelley has also appeared in some of the biggest genre shows of the 2010s including "The Vampire Diaries" and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," and she's also graced the ever-expanding and increasingly preposterous "Fast and Furious" franchise as the love interest in third installment "Tokyo Drift."

And her life away from the screen has been just as eventful. From marriage proposals and music video appearances to career struggles and competitive streaks, here's a look at 14 things you might not know about the star.

Nathalie Kelley has been in several music videos

Nathalie Kelley has yet to show any ambitions of becoming a singer herself. But the star has still managed to grace MTV — or whatever network actually shows music videos these days — as an actor.

In 2010, Kelley played the object of Bruno Mars' affections in the romantic video for his debut single, "Just The Way You Are"; it has since racked up an incredible 1.7 billion views. Two years later, Kelley foreshadowed her future role in "The Vampire Diaries" when she portrayed a bloodthirsty princess in the promo for reggaeton pairing Baby Rasta and Gringo's "Luna Llena."

And then in 2018, she was once again cast as a love interest, this time playing opposite Christopher Brochu, in the emotional rollercoaster clip for falsetto-voiced soul sensation Rhye's "Song For You." This wasn't the first time the pair's careers had crossed paths, either. Brochu was also a regular of "The Vampire Diaries" as Gemini Coven member Luke Parker. 

Nathalie Kelley suffers from psoriasis

Just like Kim Kardashian, Cara Delevingne, and LeAnn Rimes, Nathalie Kelley is a celebrity who suffers from psoriasis, an auto-immune condition which affects the skin. The "Unreal" star, therefore, ensures she sticks to an anti-inflammatory diet that omits any seeds, grains, and nuts — though it may not always be easy. "I kind of try not to have grains at all in my life, although they are my weakness," she once said to The Cut.

In 2018, Kelley told A Conscious Collection that some have jumped to unfair conclusions about her physique and diet. "It grieves me to think that people think I'm trying to be skinny because I'm in Hollywood. ... I want to be who I am, I want to be most authentically myself and, right now, being most authentically myself is — sadly — not eating rice or almonds," she said.

The Lima-born star also strives to keep her mental state as healthy as her physical, which is where her love of wellness comes in. "It's important for people to understand there isn't necessarily one program or one diet or one spiritual path that is going to work for them at all times, and in every circumstance," she said. "I'm constantly checking in with myself, constantly adjusting things and fine-tuning what works for me."

Nathalie Kelley calls herself an 'undercover Latina'

In 2020, Nathalie Kelley took the leading role of model Noa Hamilton in "The Baker and the Beauty," an American adaptation of the similarly-named Israeli romantic dramedy. The actor, who'd previously emigrated to Sydney, played an Australian in the ABC show but her own roots extend far beyond the Land Down Under.

In an interview with Hola! to promote the show, Kelley described herself as an "undercover Latina." She told the outlet, "I have my stepdad's last name, which is Kelley, and then I have a thick Australian accent. I'm actually 100% ethnically Latina, my mom is from Peru; my dad is from Argentina, and my grandma still speaks Quechuan, which is the language of the Incas. I'm really deeply connected to my ancestry and my lineage."

And Kelley couldn't have been prouder about her involvement in such a ground-breaking show: "I'm just really grateful to be a part of something that connects people to love. It's super relatable. Also, it's a big win for Latin culture to be able to play on a show with an all Latin cast and to tell the story of a very loving Latin family." Sadly, despite some impressive reviews, ABC decided to cancel the series after just nine episodes.

Nathalie Kelley feels she wasn't the right fit for Dynasty

"Dynasty" fans were left shocked in 2018 when it was announced that Nathalie Kelley would be leaving the reboot of the classic soap opera after just one season of playing Cristal Carrington. So why exactly was the reason behind such a swift departure? Well, in an admirable display of honesty, Kelley had admitted that she simply didn't feel up to the job.

In a chat with TV Insider, Kelley revealed she'd signed up to The CW hit without reading the script. And it was only when filming began that she recognized she was out of her depth. "I think I wasn't up to the challenge of a nighttime soap," she said. "It wasn't something I had experience in."

Kelley, whose character was killed off, also appeared to throw a little shade in the writers' direction, suggesting that she wasn't given much to work with. "I can say that as an artist I didn't dig as deep as I could have. I felt limited and I felt stuck," she told TV Insider. "At the same time, the writing was boxing me in a little bit. And I think the best thing they felt they could do is start afresh." The star admitted that she now feels grateful to The CW bosses that they let her go.

Nathalie Kelley experienced depression after Tokyo Drift

Nathalie Kelley was plucked from relative obscurity in the mid-'00s when she landed the role of Lucas Black' love interest Neela in the third chapter of the never-ending "The Fast and the Furious" franchise, "Tokyo Drift." Unfortunately, the reality of becoming a Hollywood celebrity didn't match the fantasy and soon after its release the actor sunk into depression.

Speaking to Beauticate, Kelley explained why she felt so low after appearing to get her big break. "I found it depressing to be doing what had always been a dream of mine, but have it not be matching up with what I thought of as success," she said.

Kelley subsequently decided to press pause on her acting career, which explains why we didn't see her back on screen again until 2008 crime thriller "Loaded." Other than her troubled one-season stint in "Dynasty," Kelley revealed she'd been a lot choosier with her roles since. "It was a huge opportunity, though, and my agents told me that being in this movie was going to get a lot of eyes on me," she told Beauticate. "Doing it was an example of me not following my intuition, and it's not the decision I would make today."

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Nathalie Kelley was nearly a mermaid

In 2005, The WB announced plans for a "Charmed" spin-off by its fifth season opener "A Witch's Tail," which featured a mermaid who puts her immortality on the line in a deal with a sea hag. According to ScreenRant, the episode had achieved above-average ratings for the supernatural drama. And although she had no prior experience in front of the camera, Nathalie Kelley was soon cast as the titular aquatic creature.

Kelley played Nikki, a mermaid who winds up living with a human lawyer and attempts to ingratiate herself into human society while also fending off a sea-bound villain named Eric Luger. Sounds like a winner, right?

Well, unfortunately Kelley's big break turned out to be a false start. Although there were high hopes that The WB would turn the pilot episode of "Mermaid" into a full series, these were dashed when the network merged with UPN to become The CW. This new channel's bosses decided that they didn't need a mermaid-based legal drama in their schedules and the show never saw the light of day. Kelley later suffered another setback when the TV reboot of 1999 teen hit "Cruel Intentions," in which she was cast as Carmen, also failed to make it past the pilot stage. 

Nathalie Kelley wants to grow older gracefully

Nathalie Kelley admits that she once used to turn to cosmetic procedures whenever she noticed the odd wrinkle. "My first instinct was, I have to fix this. I'm not going to be OK, and I won't be loved," she recalled in a 2020 interview with The Zoe Report. While the "To Catch A Spy" star still doesn't judge anyone who resorts to such measures, she's now come to the conclusion that aging naturally is the way to go. What's more, she's learned to resist the urge to doctor her photos or videos. "But, now, I realize, beauty is honesty, integrity and authenticity. And, I don't want to be portraying a filtered, enhanced, perfect beauty," she said

Not that Kelley has stopped making an effort when it comes to her beauty regime. In the same chat, she revealed that she enjoys facial cupping and the skin-scraping technique known as gua sha on a daily basis. Another go-to tool? Her red light therapy mask. As she explained in a video for Marie Claire, "It stimulates the production of collagen in your skin. It's really good to diminish the appearance of sunspots and lines. And it's also really good for your muscles."

Nathalie Kelley is a staunch environmental activist

Forget Leonardo DiCaprio. When it comes to environmental activism, it's actor Nathalie Kelley who's busy establishing herself as Hollywood's answer to Greta Thunberg. Yes, the "Take Me Home Tonight" star has a passion for saving the world and has aligned herself with numerous worthy causes over the years.

In 2019, for example, Kelley vowed never to sign deals with unsustainable fashion labels as part of the #NoNewClothes campaign. Three years later, she rocked up to the Burning Man festival to protest against the practice of wasting fuel, burning a giant "We are the climate problem" effigy in the process. And the actor has also become a board member of the Fungi Foundation, an organization designed to preserve and discover the planet's Fungi species.

Kelley is an advocate for regenerative farming, too, a subject which she has some familial inspiration to draw upon. "I spend a lot of time thinking about my Peruvian ancestors and at the height of the Inca empire they were feeding up to 10 million people," she once stated on Instagram. "They did so without pesticides and GMO seeds. They had sophisticated farming practices that we are now calling 'Regenerative Agriculture.'"

Nathalie Kelley has experienced PTSD

In 2020, Nathalie Kelley traveled from America back to the country she spent all but the first three years of her childhood in. Unfortunately, this didn't prove to be a happy homecoming. In fact, the "In Like Flynn" star ended up suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder following her return to Australia.

In an Instagram post (via The Teen Mag), Kelley explained that she arrived in the midst of her homeland's biggest wildfire season ever recorded — a period in which one billion animals died and 18 million hectares were burned. "I couldn't see the sky because it was blacked out with smoke," she said. "That was enough to give me PTSD because I knew I was looking into what could be our future, if we don't turn things around."

But Kelley, who was born in Peru before moving to Sydney with her family as a toddler, was also determined to take something positive from the visit. "While [the wildfires] were traumatic, I am grateful for the experience that I took from it, because my life will never be the same," she stated. "It led me to commit myself to telling these stories and trying to shift the narrative around these issues."

Nathalie Kelley isn't interested in stories of violence

In 2011, Nathalie Kelley appeared as a nurse tortured by a Nazi serial killer in German horror movie "Urban Explorer." But the film is something of an outlier on her resume. And in 2020, she revealed why.

Speaking to M. Citizen Magazine, the actor explained that she's no longer interested in accepting roles centered around violence against women: "There's been a lot of work that I've turned down in the last two years. Content can also be poison. I don't want to be a part of that anymore ... Even if I'm the cop solving the murder. I don't care. That happens enough in real life." Kelley was talking in the wake of her leading performance in ABC romantic dramedy "The Baker and the Beauty," something she followed up with a starring turn in Hallmark movie "To Catch A Spy." 

Touching on her aversion to violent content in a chat with Beauticate, she stated, "I don't think we need to be making more movies that terrify us or are just there to distract us."

Nathalie Kelley proposed to her husband

Nathalie Kelley proved once again that she wasn't a stickler for tradition in 2018 when she decided to propose to her then-boyfriend Jordy Burrows after just a few months of dating. The "Body of Proof" star didn't exactly go to town, though. She popped the question in a hotel room on the spur of the moment without any ring. But luckily, her hospitality consultant slash DJ other half still said 'yes.'

Kelley told Daily Mail Australia that she was happy to take wedding matters into her own hands. "I don't think we need to listen to the rules," she said. "I would not feel okay to wait for somebody else to make that big call." Kelley also put forward the idea that proposals should be jettisoned in favor of marriage discussions. "It's not sexy, it won't get as many likes on Instagram, but I think it's really getting to the heart of the matter, which is in today's day and age two people should decide if they want to spend the rest of their life together," she stated.

Perhaps she should have listened to her own advice. Just two years after getting hitched in a small ceremony in Sydney, Kelley and Jordy decided to go their separate ways

Nathalie Kelley likes being 'the center of attention'

In recent years, Nathalie Kelley has undoubtedly been the most famous half of her various serious relationships, which include "The Vampire Diaries" co-star Zach Roerig, now-estranged husband Jordy Burrows and new love Andrès Alonso. But that wasn't always the case.

In the '00s, Kelley reportedly forged a romance with Dallas Austin, the hugely successful music producer who has worked with artists like TLC, Pink and Madonna. Kelley, who by this point only had a few film appearances under her belt, later said in an interview for the Golden Globes website that she found it difficult going out with such a big name (presumed to be Austin). "I guess I like to be the center of attention," she admitted. "I think it was just uncomfortable because I felt like I was always in his shadow and I didn't like how that felt."

Kelley, who says she dated the unnamed man for ten years, believes her career wouldn't have flourished had she stayed with him. And the actor also now feels that the balance of power has shifted in her favor as a result. "I don't like to speak much about my personal life, but I will say that now that the tables have turned, it's hard now for any man being with me to feel like they are in my shadow," she said in the aforementioned interview. "So, I think it's really interesting, this constantly changing dynamic between men and women and struggling to find that balance."

Nathalie Kelley struggled to find work in Australia

In the mid-'00s, Nathalie Kelley left Australia, the country she'd emigrated to from Peru when she was a small child, to pursue her acting career. And this wasn't just because she wanted to chase the Hollywood dream. The star found that the industry Down Under did not have enough to offer her as a nonwhite actor. As she told Vogue in 2018, "To be honest, I moved because it wasn't a good climate for me as an ethnic woman. I'm Latin, and the jobs [for me] were a half-Asian girl on a soap. As a brown girl in a country like this, I had to leave."

The actor, who studied political science at the University of New South Wales, also admitted that she would have explored a different type of career had she known what lay ahead. "If you had told me there would be so many years of rejection and heartbreak, I may have thought twice about it," she said in Vogue. Luckily, Kelley's across-the-world relocation paid off, with "The Vampire Diaries," "Unreal" and "Dynasty" just a few of the high-profile shows that have since recognized her talents.

Nathalie Kelley wanted to 'win' Unreal

The boundaries between fantasy and reality appeared to get strangely blurred while filming the first season of "Unreal" according to one of its stars. The Lifetime drama, of course, was cenetered around a fictional dating show akin to "The Bachelor." But Nathalie Kelley, who played runner-up Grace, started to get a little too invested in the scripted contest. Evidently, the experience was about as close to being on "The Bachelor" without actually being on "The Bachelor."

Kelley explained to Pedestrian, "They kind of put us in very similar conditions to the show. So while we were filming a dramatized version of this reality show, we were all sequestered in Vancouver together, filming late nights, 14 girls and this one guy, and it started to feel like the real thing. I was very much not competing for this man in real life, but it started to feel like, maybe, some of the girls were taking it seriously."

Kelley admitted that she, too, was disappointed that her character didn't get the final rose — contrary to what she'd been told at the start of the production. "I'm a naturally competitive person. So by the end of the show when they were like, actually, the other girl's going to win, of course I was like [pulls face]," she said. The actor later told TV Guide that she'd even be interested in reprising the character in order to seek revenge.