Hi, my name is Nataly Marie Feliciano; sometimes I am referred to as Nati Feliciano-Soto, Nati, or Nataly. I am a 19-year-old Latinx (Puerto Rican) American from Richmond, Virginia. I am currently attending Brightpoint community college majoring in visual arts, and film specialization; to transfer to VCU to major in cinema and either minor in mass communications or creative writing. As a second-generation college student, I am following in the primary footsteps of my mother, who was the first in her family to attend and graduate from college (with a master’s degree). My mother was a young, Latina trailblazer who came from the projects of Waterbury, and she was raised in a broken home with her other 5 siblings. Her goals and animations ultimately motivated her to become an ESL teacher in Virginia. She achieved her dream of helping 1st or 2nd generations, like herself, learn English and make an example of themselves in this country (a hub of opportunities). So, due to having big shoes; all the pressure landed on me (the youngest of my family) or should I say the princess of the family.
I mean for god’s sake, I whined and cried to have the limited-edition Dora’s kitchen back in 08’ (during the Great Recession) so much that I made my dad drive all the way to New Jersey to finally find one. I only played with the playset for not even 6 months. I was quite the devil-child back in the day. Although my mother and I come from completely different childhoods, we do share some similar experiences. For example, my mother and I are both victims of bullying and emotional pain from trauma. Except, my challenges had a unique twist…I was bullied due to having a horrid stutter and toe-walking disorder. Even my own teachers wanted me placed into special ed classes; on the basis that I was ‘’too stupid and slow’’ to do their work rather than encourage me to do better like my peers.
However, through the negative experiences of my childhood, I gained two special gifts. The first gift is the lifelong friendship and support from my mother. She would go as far as to fight for my academic rights on the table in front of the whole school’s administration team all the way to help me with the financial struggles of college. The second gift, which is something I hold very precious, is my wild imagination, which I’ve used to create my own worlds and story; without any criticisms of myself or of the characters. Now throughout my adult years, I developed high social anxiety due to all the bullying, to the point where even doing simple social things made me uncomfortable and scared that I will be called out by stutter.
Nevertheless, thanks to the world I created and the characters I have written over the year in my head; my stories have become a personal outlet for me. Now it has also become a primary result of the life-changing cause and effect era in my life. When I was 14 years old after spending a dreadful and traumatic year living in Lakeland, Florida; where the only positive experience I had was visiting universal 14 times over until I knew the guy who played Homer Simpson by name. My mother brought me a book by one of my favorite WWE superstars, called “Crazy is My Superpower” by AJ Mendez who played AJ Lee. She inspired me to turn all the doubts, fears and challenges that I would incorporate into my stories (even now), into my seeking a positive as I would turn these stories I had in my head into my future career and life purpose. Therefore, I present myself as a young woman who is seeking a dream, and not just any dream. A dream filled with chapters and storylines visioned throughout the years that I will work hard to become a reality.
My dream is to become a blockbuster film producer, an Oscar-award-winning film director, a talented actress, and a successful screenwriter. My dream is to tell my story from the big pages of hardcover books to the big screen. With that being said, I am very motivated and confident in the sacrifices I am already making to make my dreams come true. Just like my mother, I was taught to work hard, be humble, and be ready for many doors to close yet many to open. I always remind myself to not let even the most surreal life circumstances stop me from reaching my goals. A 1st generation student who became a wife and mother while being buried with debt and discrimination raised a strong, unbreakable, spoiled yet humble go-getter woman with a creative mind. That spontaneous princess is me, along with many manuscripts ready to be proposed to whoever gives her a chance to display her talents.
Which is why, if it wasn’t for AJ Lee, my personal traumatic experiences, the bullying I endured all throughout school, for Becky G being vibrant about her Latina culture to a 9 year old Natí who got stuck listening to YT artists to try to fit in or for Selena Gomez playing that one Latina character (Alex Russo) I held so gracefully on a piece of fresh representation for. Little would I have known that I am Nataly (Nati) Marie Feliciano, a girl of many different roles. A 19-year-old Latinx (Puerto Rican) woman, a spoiled rotten but humbled little sister, a princess daughter, a college student, a dog mom to my 9-year-old jobless German shepherd, an awesome girlfriend, an encouraging friend, and a girl with big dreams ahead of her. Now it might take a few months for Hollywood to call me back, okay maybe a few years or decades. It doesn’t change the fact that no matter how long it takes for me to get to the stop. I won’t stop, even if I still have big shoes to fill while starting from the bottom at community college.
I couldn’t afford to go to a big-league school like NYU or Full Sail University and my social anxiety makes me such at a making connections. But this caterpillar eyebrowed, lion-mane haired, super short (having to use a pillow to prop me up to drive), anime/sitcom lover will make the most of her opportunities and she won’t quit until The Flores Twins: Roselena and Veronica Flores-Garica, Yarliz de la Rosa, Aliana Torres, Sapphire Flores, Antonia Olivera, Genesis Girlado, Victoria Diaz, Florence Santiago, Ximena Sanchez, Belicias Del Mar, or AJ Santiago’s face is known! My vision is to one day have my characters and my story take over the world like freakin’ Pokemon! In which, I promise to make every single one of my supporters from the start to the finish of my journey involved, appreciated, and most importantly, proud!