The news site of Miami Palmetto Senior High School

Meet Natalia Ortega: creating a spotlight of her own

November 22, 2015

Natalia Ortega channels her inner Beth March in Palmetto's fall performance of Little Women.
Natalia Ortega channels her inner Beth March in Palmetto’s fall performance of Little Women.

On stage, she is a character: Beth March from Little Women, a New York performer in the cast of Curtains, a maturing Princess Fiona in Shrek the Musical. On stage, she is also Natalia Ortega, every move, word and lyric performed for her love of theatre.

A musical theatre student, sophomore Natalia Ortega, known as Nati among her friends, enjoys the thrills of performing while staying true to her own interests.

“She’s not put down by others’ successes and she’s still constantly trying to succeed on her own,” senior and drama student Elizabeth Cuenca said.

As a young girl, Ortega loved singing but it was not until she auditioned for a competition at Actor’s Playhouse in sixth grade that she was granted a unique chance to perform. The event’s manager offered Ortega the opportunity to attend a summer program afterward, where she took part in  her first theatrical performance: an ensemble role in Snow White and a lead role as Grizabella in Cats.

The new experience inspired Ortega to pursue theatre at a higher level. She joined the drama club and took drama as an elective course at Jorge Mas Canosa Middle School in seventh and eighth grade. Although her drama teacher harshly criticized her performances compared to the other students, she strengthened Ortega’s abilities to their fullest before joining Palmetto’s troupe 1298.

“I know that she wasn’t trying to discourage me, she was only trying to make me better,” Ortega said. “I feel like because I had no previous experience when I met my teacher, she felt like I had a lot of potential and I was willing to work hard, so everything she told me I would take into consideration.”

Ortega now performs alongside her classmates in drama teacher Robin Barson’s highest level of drama, Theatre 2, often staying for a seventh period to practice. Though they all share a common passion for theatre, students within the drama department each hold personal traits that add to the troupe’s medley of talents. For Ortega, her genuine presence and effortless appearance set her apart from the rest.

When she’s not performing, Ortega enjoys the pleasures of relaxing with friends and family. With her closest friend, her 19-year-old sister Sabrina, she goes on fishing excursions.

“We’re able to tell each other anything without having the fear of one of us judging the other,” Ortega said. “I know that I can always run to my sister no matter what. I always feel like I’m free to tell her something and she’ll always be there for me. She won’t turn her back on me, ever.”

Ortega spends Saturday nights at the Lake Worth Drive-In movie theater in West Palm Beach with school friends for a unique experience. Ortega especially enjoys the lazy pleasure of watching a movie with the sound through the speakers of the car and the convenient concessions available.

“I love the cold weather, so it’s nice to have the privacy of your own [car]… it’s like our own private movie theatre,” Ortega said.

In addition to her love for theatre, Ortega hopes to become a criminal defense lawyer while studying drama as a double-major in college. An avid Miami Hurricanes fan, she dreams of attending the University of Miami for graduate school and the University of Florida for undergraduate.

Natalia Ortega continues to stay true to herself both on and off the stage. In all of her performances, Ortega creates a spotlight of her own.

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