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How did I get here? (And why did I stay?): Esther's Follies' Nathalie Holmes answers

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Nathalie Holmes
Esther's Follies Nathalie Holmes Photo by Christina Sharretts

When Saturday Night Live launched its new season this fall, it brought on a slew of new cast members — Austinite and Esther's Follies alum Noël Wells among them. While Wells has since relocated to The Big Apple, there are plenty of other talented folks holding down the fort at Esther's, including Nathalie Holmes, who recently rejoined the troupe after a stint singing funk tunes around town. Let's get to know this funny lady whose arsenal of impressions includes Beyoncé, Oprah, Little Richard, and Michelle Obama.

Name: Nathalie Holmes

Occupation: I'm a professional actress and vocalist, but technically I have four jobs. First, I'm a cast member at Esther's Follies. Second, I'm an emcee for the Action Pack events at Alamo Drafthouse. Third, I teach glee club for a private school. Fourth, I perform in an interactive bully prevention program for elementary age students. The reported bullying rate has gone down over seven percent since I started five years ago. I'm pretty proud of that.

Year I moved to Austin: I moved to Austin after I graduated from Texas State University in 2008. My only regret is that I didn't move here sooner.

First neighborhood: I lived in the [78704 zip code] when I first moved here, off of South Lamar.

Current neighborhood: East Side, baby! Or I guess technically more central. [I live] in a 1960s house in quiet little neighborhood. It's pretty ideal for me.

What brought me here: I'm from small town Texas, and I always knew that it wasn't for me. Do you remember that Blind Melon "No Rain" music video from the '90s with the little girl as an outcast bumblebee? As soon as I saw that video I said to myself, "I need to find my bumblebees." My bumblebees are in Austin. No question.

First Austin memory: I have no idea. How about my favorite Austin memory? I was at the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World after party and there were celebrity types all about. They were having apocalyptic karaoke on stage and I looked up and saw Elijah Wood and RZA (of the Wu-Tang Clan) singing Black Eyed Pea's "I Gotta Feeling" with RZA [singing as] Fergie. Then they danced backup for this girl's rendition of "It's Raining Men." It was something to see. Oh, and Bill Murray served me a drink at Shangri La! Pretty epic.

 "Austin is a hard place to walk away from. At least for me it is. I work with amazingly talented people. I have dear friends. The barbecue's good. The drinks are cheap. And the live music is free. What reason would you ever have to leave?" - Nathalie Holmes

Favorite Austin spot: The Elephant Room is my jam. Or Continental Club. I'm a jazz and funk kind of girl. It soothes my soul. I sing at Elephant Room's open mic every now and then, but mostly I just go to listen and watch. Funk night at The Gallery is the best.

Austinite I look up to: I'm going to go with (technical Houstonian) Wes Anderson. I just think he's brilliant and has such a distinct, beautiful — and colorful — way of telling a story. You can always tell when it's Wes Anderson, ya know?

Austinite I miss: I really do miss Leslie, man. Just the idea of his being was something I really admired. I hear he used to come backstage at Esther's and dip into the girls' makeup. I remember genuinely thinking to myself, "Austin just got a little less weird" when he passed away.

Biggest change I’ve seen: All the freakin' condos! They are building over all my old secret parking spaces! It's so crazy how many people are moving here. Traffic is a nightmare now. I adore meeting new people, but I hear the "I came for SXSW or ACL and I never left" story on a daily basis. We're just growing really fast.

Restaurants I'd recommend: I love Bar Chi, Rio's Brazilian Cafe, 219 West, Uncle Billy's, and Uchi of course. I'm always on the look out for the best Brussels sprouts in town. Right now I'd said they're at Snack Bar or Uchiko.

Advice for newbies: I always try to warn people about our summers. People think you're kidding. I'm just like, "No. Stay hydrated. Stay inside. You will lose consciousness." Also, I'm a huge advocate for seeing what a city has the offer. That's so easy here. There are so many shows and events that are reasonably priced or straight-up free and they are happening every single day. Just go and have a good time around good people.

What Austin has taught me: Austin has taught me to stay hungry. There are so many people doing really cool things here. Creating and making and changing things for the better. I always want to make sure I'm living up to my full creative potential. Austin inspires me to just go for it. People are so encouraging here, I think it's near impossible to fail in Austin. Not exactly the same kind of energy in Los Angeles or New York.

Why I’ve stuck around: As an actress, I'll be making the move to Los Angeles in the next coming year or so. The main reason that I haven't left yet is simply because I love this city. Austin is a hard place to walk away from. At least for me it is. I work with amazingly talented people. I have dear friends. The barbecue's good. The drinks are cheap. And the live music is free. What reason would you ever have to leave?

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You can follow Nathalie online at her website.

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