Nathanya Alexander joins MOOD to chat about her artistic process in portraying her character Arianna, in the new HBO show Genera+ion
Nathanya wears Sienna Gingham accompanied with Barollo black heels.
The age-old tale of generations being misunderstood is one that continuously plays out in media, politics, and daily life. The depiction of changing cultural norms, lifestyle, ideology, and fashion are just a few of the factors that differentiate one generation from the next. Nathanya Alexander plays Arianna on HBO’s Generation; an opinionated, problematic, outspoken, unapologetically black teen girl who is being raised by an interracial gay couple. The character is an exercise in the 21st-century teen experience and all its nuances with tech, social media, and parents who just don’t understand.
On the opposite end of Arianna is an emerging star in Nathanya Alexander. The Brooklyn native who has a strong adoration for her Caribbean culture and all things theatre is the polar opposite of the persona she portrays on the show. Nathanya mentions, “I am very different from Arianna, which was very fun to tackle as an actor. My favorite thing is to challenge myself and jump into other characters' worlds. When I first read Generation, I immediately thought to myself, this is odd and different but I like it. The character was very layered and difficult so I loved the challenge. I immediately took out my journal and began to create her life. I wrote out everything I knew about her from the given circumstances of the script. I then put a lot of what I wanted her to be. The most important thing for me was to humanize her.”
The work that goes into being an actor requires investing deep emotional energy into becoming that character; it’s work Nathanya takes seriously and it shows in her performance. It doesn’t take long to fall in love with Arianna who lives by the philosophy of “never explain, never apologize.” The way they write her quick wit, humor, and openness of her character to experience various feelings lead to a very interesting depiction of the Gen Z black teen experience. One big trait of this generation is holding nothing back! “I think people get Generation Z. Generation Z just puts it all out there for you to see with no filter, and Gen Z tells it how it is. Gen Z forces people to get who they are. So, I don't think there's anything that people don't understand,” Nathanya explains about whether or not she feels people misunderstand this generation and their thought
Nathanya is also learning a lot about her generation as she is a self-proclaimed old soul that is intertwined with the vibes of previous generations. The music, the fashion, and the principles have been an intrinsic part of her upbringing and Alexander is unashamed of her admiration of days past. “I feel like the show has impacted my youth. I'm learning so much more about Gen Z that I didn't know before. I'm more of an old soul as well. So, a lot of the slang that was used, a lot of the songs that are used were lost on me at first. I'm starting to pick up on a lot more of the culture which is pretty cool for me,” Nathanya says.
Television impacts several facets of pop culture including music and fashion most notably. When you watch Generation on HBO, you are immersed in some of the cutest looks and sounds of a new generation. Nathanya told us of the love she has for Cupcakke while being excited to hear the placement on the show, and how powerful Frank Ocean’s Bad Religion was in the episode it was featured in. Music played a large role in how she even conceptualized Arianna as a character. Nathanya notes. “I created odd playlists with songs you would never guess I would have for this character. Lots of Queen, Elton John, Eagles, Beatles, The Allman Brothers Band, Tierra Whack; all songs that embody all kinds of emotions, which helped me tap into Arianna. Queen specifically, because their music has all kinds of instruments and levels; it’s like five songs in one. And Arianna is a whole bunch of personalities in one. So, it was a perfect source for me.”
Nathanya wears Versace
Nathanya wears Versace accompanied with Barollo black heels.
we can’t express how much we yelped in joy when we saw Arianna wearing Baby Phat and other lines who had their height in the 90’s. It’s no shock that her own character's fashion is her favorite because Arianna serves. “When I saw Baby Phat, I thought, oh my gosh, this is great! She has such a 90s style about her which is pretty cool,” Alexander expressed. “She's always layered; layered rings and layered necklaces. Somebody told me that Arianna gives them poodle vibes and I’ll allow it.” Having seen the show’s first installment, Arianna’s vibe serves as sassy, polished, and unbothered, like a well-groomed show poodle.
Sexuality and dating in this generation is probably the largest differentiation between Gen Z and your grandmother's era. The normalization of LGBTQ+, interracial, open, and poly relationships has brought many love stories to the forefront. When you see the show, you will see how upfront and open this generation is with experimentation and fighting back against heteronormative existences. SPOILER ALERT, for Christ’s sake, they recreate the 3-way kiss from the WAP video… safe to say— it’s iconic. Arianna is feisty and Nathanya admits she cringed the most having to put her fingers into “Nathan’s” mouth. “It was a wow moment- this girl is bold! I had to watch it when we were filming. I made sure my fingers were extremely clean for it. It wasn’t cringe per se, but I thought to myself, Arianna, I see you, sis! You’re bold and you're going after what you want. That was one of the moments where I was reading it in the script when they sent it to us and I screamed. My reaction was no she didn’t. No, she didn’t!” But oh yes she did.
Nathanya Alexander is a child of the theatre and has had some amazing strides in both stage and camera acting. The work ethic and dedication she has shown are obvious in the wins she is experiencing in this season of life. Nathanya is a spicy Caribbean young woman who loves Brooklyn to her core and keeps her family values near and dear. “If I had to describe my personality in terms of food it would be macaroni pie because it’s layered like me and jerk chicken because I’m definitely spicy!” she joked. Nathanya is an introverted soul still managing to entertain the masses outwardly and we, for one, are glad to witness her progression to the upper echelon of entertainment spaces.
The second installment of the first season of Generation will be available for viewing on June 17 on HBOMax. Generation is a riveting tale of the nuances of surviving puberty in a Gen Z society. Nathanya puts on a whirlwind performance every episode and we can’t imagine anyone not being drawn into the splendor that becomes Arianna when Nathanya takes over the character.
Nathanya wears Michael Kors.
Nathanya wears Annakiki accompanied by Enrico Cuini red heels
Photography: Anthony Giovanni
Fashion: Edwin J. Ortega
Makeup: Gilbert Soliz
Interview by: Kristopher Welcome