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TV Guide Online January 4, 1999

TV Guide: V.I.P. star Natalie Raitano is here to chat with us. Welcome, Natalie....glad you could join us this evening....

Raitano: I'm just happy to be here and excited about this!

VinnyX: What was the story of you meeting Pamela Anderson Lee? When were you first offered the job?

Raitano: I met her in the audition. I went in to do a reading and she was there, and we met, that's how it first happened. It was for the pilot before we actually started the show.

Justin__Sane: Do you feel like you are in Pamela's shadow of stardom?

Raitano: Oh, no, I mean she is so supportive of all of the cast members. Just to give you an example: We went and did Good Day LA, and they kind of wanted me to come on after her interview, and she said, no I'm not going on unless is Nat is on the whole time. And furthermore, I don't mind being in her shadow, because she is an inspiration, and I am learning so much from her.

rampart1: Do they shoot your show in Hawaii or LA?

Raitano: We are in LA. I wish in Hawaii!

Canadiancowboy26: How's life in Hollywood?

Raitano: It's great! I'm having a lot of fun doing the show, and having a lot of fun in and outside of work.

splash3215: How similar are you to the character you portray in VIP?

Raitano: I'm very similar to her except that I don't use explosive weapons or stunt driving. Well, I don't know, I do drive a bit faster than I should but... I am a lot like her! But I think I'm less angry than Nikki is.

JanineSugar: How did you get started in acting?

Raitano: Well, I got this job. I've always been dramatic my whole life - ask my Mom! This is actually my first acting job.

VinnyX: I've read that you've called yourself an "overnight success". What else did you act in before VIP?

Raitano: I don't think that's quite correct, the overnight success, this is my first job. Actually I've been out in Los Angeles for four or five years, pursuing other avenues, such as singing and dancing, before I tried the acting, which is what I'm into now. So I've paid my dues, I've waitressed, babysat, taught aerobics, private training. Professional dancing, like in shows - NOT stripping -- and I was pursuing a singing career with this singing group. We were actually doing our demo when I got this job. I was blessed with a great job in acting! I can't really say it was overnight, because I had many struggles out here. I'm just very thankful, because not everybody gets this opportunity out here. Trust me -- I know.

latika_2: How were your Holidays and what are some of your fondest memories about them?

Raitano: Well, my holidays were great. I spent it with my family in Fort Lauderdale, and I spent New Year's out here with my boyfriend. Had a big party. I am single, but I have a boyfriend.

jmgmike73: How's it feel to be the most beautiful woman on earth?

Raitano: Oh, my God, thank you. That's such a compliment especially being in a cast with so many beautiful girls. Thank you very much, I am very flattered.

RACHAL6: How has fame changed your life?

Raitano: Well, I just do the regular things I've always done. So it hasn't changed it much. Acting pays well, so I've got to step up a little higher than what I was before. I got a new apartment, and you know, it hasn't really hit me that hard yet. It's fun being recognized, mostly by kids and young teenage girls. (And cute guys, too) It's fun and I'm having a good time with it. Pamela and I are in the LPC (the Little Players Club), and we do look at all the guys. My boyfriend hates that club, but I'm still in it! rampart1: Are you originally from New York?

Raitano: I am actually from Charleroi, Pennsylvania, and that's about 45 minutes south of Pittsburgh. Small town girl.

palee11: Congratulations on your success. Have you been back to Craven Hill recently & have you seen any of your old friends? Raitano: I have been back this summer, we had a break from the show in July, and I came back and visited my high school friends. Lexie Massari, Jane Homa, Ninny, and my family, yeah I saw all of them. My old dance teachers!

SWEETP103: How long have you been dancing?

Raitano: Like my whole life, since I was eight. I don't do much of it except out in clubs anymore. But - in this last episode, we're supposed to have some dancing in it, so who knows?

JanineSugar: Are you into weightlifting?

Raitano: No, I was many years ago. I actually do mostly cardio, and I do taebo with Billy Blank. But lifting weights - I get too big. mdgaler: Who was your inspiration growing up?

Raitano: God. Stayed in faith, in prayer, that's been inspirational to me. I love music, so there's been a lot of people, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, I am a diehard Mariah Carey fan, I love her, a lot of people in the music business have been inspirational to me. Also, my sister Nicole, is really special to me. She has Downs Syndrome, and just watching her my whole life has just shown me what pure love is, and how blessed we all are. It's a blessing to be in someone's life like that. Believe it or not, even though she is handicapped, she is truly my inspiration.

fundamental_: Has anyone ever told you that you look like Toni Braxton?

Raitano: No. Never.

splash3215: Drew Barrymore does yoga before going on the set. What do you do to relax before the show starts? Raitano: I probably say some prayers. We have group prayer.

VinnyX: My favorite episode so far is the Love Hormone episode. Which one is yours?

Raitano: Well you guys haven't seen all of the ones that we have done yet, so there's a lot more coming, about 15 the public hasn't seen yet. There is one where I had a love interest that I had a really good time making. The guy who plays Johnnie Loh was played by Dustin Gueyn, and he was the Asian guy on 21 Jump Street, and I had a big crush on him, so I had a great time making that one. He was so sweet. That was my favorite.

splash3215: What advice would you give to up and coming actors to get onto TV?

Raitano: I would say, study your craft, and do whatever it takes to be completely confident in yourself.

igor33: What was the most dangerous/interesting/fun stunt you did yourself on the show? And who is your stunt double?

Raitano: My stunt double is Eliza Coleman, and the scariest stunt for me was driving the boat. And any time we do explosions, they're always exciting, but you got to be real careful.

Chipndale64: Are you a weapons specialist on the show?

Raitano: Yes. sideswipe80: How many hours do you have to work out each week?

Raitano: Well you have to work out your whole life. And to stay in shape, I try to work out three or four times a week, an hour each time. I'm sure it will be much more rigid come hiatus.

chris182: Have you ever done Broadway?

Raitano: No. But I would like to in the future some day.

roby_4u2nv: What kind of schooling did you have?

Raitano: I went to Mon Valley Catholic High School, and then Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA, and I got a BA in Fine Arts, and I was a dance major. Serious ballet dancer.

Name_dot_com: Have you had any REALLY embarrassing moments on the show?

Raitano: I had an embarrassing situation happen to me at our launch party, not on the set. I threw a drink at somebody because they pissed me off, and it hit the executive producer's wife. Not the whole thing, just some of the drink hit her. But she was cool about it, she was like, You're like your character! That was really embarrassing. d

mbgirl420: You're one of my favorite actresses. Now, the most important question, what's your favorite cereal?

Raitano: I don't eat cereal.

Boomerct: Do you have any bad habits, like junk food etc.?

Raitano: Swearing, which is my New Year's resolution. That's about the worst habit that I have. And I love junk food, and I don't think it's a bad habit.

shyguy741: What did you do for New Year's?

Raitano: I went to a party out here in LA at Raleigh Studios, and it was just a big party with a bunch of people. I went with some friends, it was cool. And then I continued my New Year's in Las Vegas, staying at the Bellagio Hotel and seeing Prince perform that weekend. He was awesome. So I had a New Year's weekend!

VinnyX: Are there tickets available for tapings of the show?

Raitano: NO, because we shoot on location, we are not in the studio, we shoot all around town. It's not a live audience.

VinnyX: Any plans acting-wise in the near future?

Raitano: I'm looking forward to next season, and I look forward to pursuing action movies in the future, if they'll have me!

DJ_X_Trodinaire: Do you have any upcoming movies?

Raitano: Not yet, no.

Goteeeman: What is Leah Lail like in person?

Raitano: She is great, she is so much fun, I love her. All the guys in my family are in love with her! You_Better_Reconize: What was your favorite thing to do as a child?

Raitano: I loved dancing, that was my thing. Performing.

NavyGirl523: What kind of music did you sing?

Raitano: Pop, R&B.

gummber: Are you going to continue to wear belly shirts on the show because you really look great in them!

Raitano: Definitely. As well as in everyday life - as long as I can!

chris182: Your show has hit cult status, were you expecting that?

Raitano: Nope. No I wasn't. Although, I did think it was going to blowup, I did think it was going to be a hit. But being in it, I just didn't expect that.

tan_hd: What is the best thing you have done in your life?

Raitano: I would say getting this job. This experience has been amazing in all aspects. The job, the people I've met on the show, the friends I've made - hands down the best thing.

_Catgirl99: What's it like to be on such a popular show? Do you get a lot of fan mail? Raitano: I get a little bit of fan mail, but it's great! I'm having the best time of my life.

latika_2: What was the best advice anyone gave you about acting and life in general?

Raitano: They told me to be myself.

Omega_Man5on: What made you cut your hair like that?

Raitano: I just decided to get it cut like this because I just had an everyday, girl from back East, big hair from Pittsburgh haircut. A guy who worked at the gym that I worked at, he worked at the boutique in the gym, and he said, 'Girl, you need to get into the nineties and stop teasing your hair.' He got me the appointment, brought pictures in of what I should get my hair cut like, brought me into the stylist, and I've been going there every since. That was three years ago. And I love it cause it's easy!

_ValVenis1998: How long does it take to tape one episode?

Raitano: Seven working days.

You_Better_Reconize: I heard that the show was thought up by a bus boy in a hotel is this true?

Raitano: I do not know the answer to that. It was Pamela Anderson and JF Laughton, the executive producer of the show's idea.

WIlly_911: Where do you think you will be in 5 years?

Raitano: Hopefully in a house that I bought and deciding what movie I'm going to do.

Scary_82: I love the show but are there bad sides of doing the show?

Raitano: I would say no, the only thing that is sometimes hard is the long hours.

bridgetteV_01: Do you think you've learned anything as an actress from Pamela?

Raitano: Absolutely. I've learned how to trust myself more and timing. And just to be more confident in my acting. arsenio_beckman: What charities do you support?

Raitano: Well, I definitely support Special Olympics, pancreatic cancer, and AIDS.

TVFan: I'm not really a "drama person", but I do have a passion for singing. Do you have ANY idea how I could get something started with that?

Raitano: Get a demo together and get your tape to an A&R executive at any record label. Always work on your singing, perform as much as possible, and try to get your tape to someone in Los Angeles or New York. fundamental_: Who is your favorite singer/group?

Raitano: I love Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey, Faith, Rosie Gaines.

splash3215: When you are at home do you like to dress up or are you a tomboy?

Raitano: I'm both. I live in my Adidas outfits, but when I go out at night, I'm definitely a girl, skirts and all. But during the day, no makeup and sweats, Adidas or Puma.

butterfly_16_2001: What time is your show on? Raitano: It's different in all places, you have to check your TV Guide. It's on FOX. Out in Los Angeles it's on at 12:00 midnight on Saturday night. And then it's on Sundays at 5 PM. In New York, I think it's Saturdays or Sundays at 4 PM, but I'm not sure. Check your local listings.

Boomerct: How old are you? It would settle a bet between me and some friends.

Raitano: Bye! (You should never ask a woman her age!)

TV Guide: Thanks for joining us tonight, Natalie. Raitano: Thanks everybody for being in, and I'd love to do it again sometime, it was great!