NATASHA MAGGIE SHANNON
Fort Greene resident Natasha Vaynblat is a heavy weight UCB improviser and writer, who does all kinds of videos for IFC, Above Average, and UCB. Currently, she’s really shining in the world of fashion—kind of: Her Instagram, Natasha Wears Clothes, is a humorous take on the cut-throat world of fashion, and the unreasonable ideals we often feel we should ascribe to within it.
How and why did you become involved in your line of work?
My family moved from Russia when I was seven years old, so it took me a while to discover myself and my personality. But around middle school I found that I felt most myself when I was writing funny stories and making people laugh. Every since then I followed that passion. My love of clothes is thanks to my mother who has an amazing eye for deals. As immigrants we were incredibly strapped for cash for the first decade in America, so we spent a lot of time at second hand stores trying to find unique looks. To this day, most of the items in my closet are from second-hand stores.
Tell us a little bit about your present work, the Cliffs Notes version of your day to day and what is at stake.
My focus is currently on merging my love of comedy with my love of fashion. I teach improv and sketch at UCB theater during the day and spend my evenings performing stand up, sketch, and putting on fake fashion shows. I  just did one at UCB called NY FASHION WEEK FLAGSHIP SHOW (REJECTS) in which all the “designers” created fake looks for their fashion personalities that were denied access to Bryant Park. It’s an amazing gift to be able set my own schedule but that also comes with a lot of pressure to make sure I’m spending my days wisely.
What do you find most fulling about your work?
I am only responsible to myself for the creative work I generate everyday. So I have the luxury of taking risks and follow my gut everyday.
What is your proudest achievement with this work and what is your greatest challenge?
My proudest achievement was when I quit my day job and was able to fully support myself through comedy. My greatest challenge is there is no clear path to my success. So I have to write my path while I’m still on it.
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What do you hope changes or improves (or continues!) in your field in the future?
The tide is certainly turning and the amount of diverse voices in comedy and fashion are increasing. But there is still so much more room for diverse opinions and representation in my field.
What, specifically, did you want to highlight through humor (and your great Instagram, NatashaWearsClothes) fashion?
In what way do you hope to change the conversation? The fashion world is incredibly exclusive and my goal is to poke-fun at its elitism; thereby, making it more accessible in the process. We all have style and we all should feel confident in the choices we make and also make fun of those choices. Taste is arbitrary, so why not have fun with it?
Who would you nominate for this list?
Buzz Off, Lucille is an excellent all female sketch group that is using their comedy platform to also shed light on the lack of reproductive rights in our country. Not only is their comedy about female empowerment but they’re also mobilizing politically to make sure our rights as women are protected.
Learn more about this year’s 100 Influencers in Brooklyn Culture.
Photo by Maggie Shannon