Tasha Natural

This is an excerpt from photographer John Andrulis' new book, "American Women 20's," featuring Tasha. Check your local bookstore for a copy, which includes new, never-before-seen photos!  
Most people don’t know very much about Kentucky.  I suppose we have a reputation for blue grass and bluegrass music, rolling hills and horses, and of course, KFC!  But, we’re also famous for our bourbon, basketball, and beautiful women. 
I was born just across the river, in the “Queen City,” Cincinnati, OH, the closest big city to my hometown.  My earliest memories are of my family’s sweet little house in Erlanger, KY.  We had a beautiful, wrought iron storm door, a big backyard with lots of trees, a brick patio, an awesome swing set and the most lavish garden – always green and buzzing with bees, hummingbirds, and giant yellow tomato spiders weaving their nets.  The neighborhood was full of little girls my age, and we’d waste the days running around outside, laughing and getting into trouble, all the while wearing frilly lace dresses and HUGE bows in our hair.  My dad had the coolest truck, a red ford, and we lived close to the railroad tracks.  I loved watching the trains pass, or driving out to the airport with my dad to watch the planes take off. 
When I was three years old, my parents blessed me with the best gift ever!  I didn’t know it at the time, but my baby sister, Chelsea, would become one of my most beloved companions.  Chelsea sucked her thumb. I used to suck my two fingers as a baby.  She was cute and getting lots of attention, so I started sucking my thumb too.  They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!  Soon after Chelsea was born we moved out of Erlanger, and just down the road, to Florence.  My parents built a beautiful new home close to my Grandma’s house, also one of my greatest blessings.  Our backyard led to a GIANT hill, and at the bottom of the hill, was the sweetest, most serene, winding, muddy creek.  And beyond the creek, were the deepest, darkest woods.  That’s where I spent most of my spare time.  Like monkeys, my sister and I climbed trees and hung out at the top for hours, pretending to be on the lookout for something.  Back on the ground, we would dig for crawdads, and try to catch tiny minnows and frogs.  We had a pretty high success rate for trapping cool critters!  I had a special gift for snakes.  I loved them, and wasn’t frightened at all!  I think they could sense that I was simply curious, and so they would allow me to handle them and keep them as my pets for a day or so before I set them free again.  I only got bit once!  It was the Fourth of July…  And I think the little guy was just tired of me toting him around to scare all the relatives.
Summer meant overgrown wild lilies covering the hillside, perpetually barefoot feet, and millions of lightning bugs at night.  When fall rolled around and the air stopped being so sticky-sweet, instead carrying a crisp chill, it was time to go back to school!  I attended Yealey Elementary, the same school my mom and dad both went to and the same school where both my mother and grandmother were teachers.  I loved every moment!  I loved school!  But, unlike most kids, who seemed to know exactly what they wanted to be when they grew up, I wasn’t so sure.  I just knew that I loved adventure.  I thought about being an explorer, like Daniel Boone, but was saddened to discover that most of the world had already been charted.  I decided on being a “Pirate.”  I LOVED Gilligan’s Island, and Pippi Longstocking, and the movie about that family that built a huge, super cool house in a tree on this deserted island where they were shipwrecked.  And there were ostriches there too!  But, being a pirate was really all that sounded fun to me.  I wanted thrills, and adventure, and freedom.  For the longest time, though, I was simply stuck in Florence, KY.  Don’t get me wrong!  There’s no place like home!  I love it with all my heart.  But I knew there was more to be seen beyond my small town. 
I studied ballet and art and became quite good at both.  I tried cheerleading for a year or so, but fell out of a build and broke my wrist, and after that decided to stick just to dance.  I went on to study and perform with the Cincinnati Ballet.  In high school, I became Captain of the Rebelettes Dance Team.  Life was truly beautiful, but senior year, I hit a bit of a wall.  I’d like to think that at 18 years old, not many people are exactly sure what they want to do for the rest of their lives, but it seemed that I was the only one who just couldn’t face that kind of commitment. Mostly, I just had no idea what I wanted for the future.  I had never really had such consequential decisions to make on my own before.  I knew how important good grades were.  I knew how important college was.  I wanted success, but I just couldn’t see an end goal.  I had an entire country of colleges to choose from!  A plethora of career fields in which I knew I could excel.  But what did I really want?  It turns out being slow and contemplative about my next steps was just as ineffective as inaction, so my mom helped me to list my skills, and the things that I enjoy, and find a good career field that made a mix of both.  We landed on design.  Fashion Design.  I’d always been very artistic, and I have a deep love of fashion.  So “Voila!”  It was settled.  And uncannily enough, one of the top design schools in the country just happened to be located just across the river!  The University of Cincinnati’s DAAP (Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning) program had a fantastic reputation.  And so, even though I bleed Kentucky blue, I became a Cincinnati Bearcat.  I spent three years laboring away in the craziest, most intense design program there is.  And though I really loved fashion design and my many creations, I knew it just wasn’t the “thing” for me.  I had a few internships designing all over the country, and I had a blast!  But, once I landed in New York, I knew I just couldn’t go back.  
As my internship was drawing to a close, I happened upon an ad in the newspaper.  It was an open call for an agency.  They were looking for new faces for an upcoming project in the city.  I happened to have the day of the open call off, and with nothing else to occupy my time, I stopped in.  BAM!  That was all it took.  I made the move when fate presented it to me, and for the next two weeks, I was booked completely solid working on different sets all over the city.  Unfortunately, at the end of those two weeks, I was due to go back to school for summer quarter.  But, my gut told me that wasn’t the path for me anymore.  I had been restless with fashion for a while.  Working in film and television was a dream come true!  If I didn’t take the chance, I knew I’d regret it for the rest of my life.  So, I called my parents, and told them I wasn’t coming home.  They weren’t very happy at all at first.  But my mom seemed to understand that I had finally found something I had a real passion for.  I wanted to at least try.  And so, I crashed on my friend’s living room floor until I found an apartment for the summer, and then I hustled as hard as I could to get work.  I stomped all over the city attending castings.  I tramped from agency to agency, until I finally worked my way into a good one.  I did plenty of photo shoots for free, just trying to get nice pictures for my book. And it worked!  I ended up with fantastic agents and partners, with a beautiful book, and tons of clients looking to book me!   Some may say that modeling isn’t much of a career, that a model’s shelf-life is short, but I’ve always thought it’s much better to burn out than to fade away.  I love the buzz of the city.  I love LIVING my life each day, never really knowing what surprises lay in store for me.  
Over the past two years, I’ve starred in a few feature films, made appearances on many television shows, and, in traditional New York spirit, I even performed on stage in a fantastic off-broadway show.  I’ve also been featured in two music videos, a few indies/shorts, a documentary, and had several commercial and hosting gigs.  To supplement my income while pursuing a stable acting career, I’ve made ends meet with modeling.  I’ve done many ads, catalogues, and lookbooks.  I’ve done editorial spreads and even landed a cover!  I walked the catwalk during NY Fashion Week.  As for the future, I’m planning a move to Los Angeles this summer, just to spread my roots a bit.  But I’m sure I’ll be back in NYC in no time!  I plan to keep an apartment on both coasts, and hopefully frequent flier miles will cover my trips back and forth for auditions and bookings!  I have been so blessed to finally get that freedom that I so desired as a little girl.  I think my life is very much like that of a pirate!  Wind at my back, sun on my face, far off places, and adventure! I’m so grateful.  Thank you to family, and to my friends and fans.  Your support had always been the wind that keeps me sailing!