Even if you haven’t watched every episode of the ’80s classic Dynasty, you most likely have the surface-level gist. There’s a lot of wealth, drama in spades, and style that’s still recognizable today. In that respect, not much has changed between the original and its remake on The CW this fall, but there’s a lot more to the new show than just that. And Nathalie Kelley, who plays Cristal Carrington (née Flores), says that’s why she signed onto the project in the first place.
In just a couple episodes so far this season, Nathalie's Cristal has been reminiscent of the role originally played by Linda Evans (hers spelled Krystle), but she’s carving her own way with a character she says is much more relatable to the 2017 woman. “Cristal—while ambitious in her own way—she leads with her heart, and she is a lot warmer and more nurturing. It’s an interesting position that a lot of women find ourselves in: How can we be the nurturer, the mother, the wife, and still be our own women and be masters of our own destiny when it comes to the workplace?”
However, what’s still not very relatable is Cristal’s shopping budget—for us and the actress who portrays her. But according to Nathalie, who’s personally a fan of ethically produced fashion, her member-of-the-1% character isn’t as frivolous of a shopper as you might suspect. And ahead, Nathalie not only told us about bringing this modern-day role to life and why she’s so proud to represent a more diverse Cristal, but she also spilled some thoughtful shopping secrets that anyone, on any budget, can follow.
Scroll down for our chat with Nathalie Kelley of Dynasty.
WHO WHAT WEAR: It can’t be easy to remake an already iconic TV show. Did you come in with any preconceived notions?
NATHALIE KELLEY: I have to admit that when I first watched Dynasty, I was like, I’m a little brown girl. Which one do they want me to be? The tall blonde one? It was a very homogenous show.
WWW: So when did you decide to pursue it?
NK: When I sat down with Sallie [Patrick, writer] and Stephanie [Savage, executive producer] and they pitched me the modern version. From what you see on YouTube, it’s just a bunch of cat fights, so I was really surprised at just the quality of the story lines and the narratives and the characters, but it wasn’t until I heard the pitch for the reboot that I started to get really excited. I think America was a diverse place back then [in the ’80s] too, but television didn’t necessarily reflect it, and thankfully, now television has caught up. So to make Cristal a Latino and to make her as interesting as she is in this modern version, that’s more relatable to a lot of women. Linda Evans is obviously amazing and an icon. In the original, she was this amazing wife and constantly supporting Blake [Carrington] in his job, in his ambitions, but she didn’t necessarily have any of her own. So when they presented me this new Cristal as somebody who was very much part of the company, I loved that because it really represents where women are now.
WWW: Obviously, Dynasty style already brings to mind specific memories. How did you and the crew decide what this new Cristal would wear, especially for the pilot’s big wedding scene?
NK: You see Fallon Carrington in a lot more of the sharper silhouettes and the blacks, whites, and reds, and we purposely keep Cristal out of those colors and put her in a lot of beautiful neutrals and textures. Bianca Jagger’s one of my biggest style icons, and so when we were picking a wedding look, I was like, wouldn’t it be great if she did something untraditional like when Bianca Jagger wore that suit when she married Mick Jagger in France? And Meredith [Markworth-Pollack, costume designer] was totally on board and made it into a jumpsuit.
WWW: Do you find your personal style aligns with hers?
NK: If I had way more money, I would totally dress like Cristal. Cristal is Nathalie with an unlimited budget.
WWW: Cristal seems to use style to help assert herself. As someone in the spotlight, how do find empowerment through personal style?
NK: More and more, I’m really just trying to be comfortable and timeless. I think a lot of women feel like that as they get older. I make sure that whatever I buy, I have to be really connected to the fabric, and I don’t like wearing any synthetic fabric or mass-produced clothes. I buy from a lot of local, American designers and people who produce small batches of clothing. My friend Jaclyn has a line called Awaveawake. It’s all organically dyed silks, and wearing her clothes is knowing that it’s been made sustainably and ethically.
WWW: It’s incredible when people with a platform like yours stand up for priorities like that when it comes to fashion and consumption.
NK: I’m not really aiming to be trendy or cool, but thoughtful. I’m hoping there’s a shift toward that in general because clothes are fun, and they’re such an expression of your personality, but we just have to bring mindfulness to where they’re coming from and how they’re made. In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo talks about going through your whole closet and picking up items and asking yourself, Does this bring me joy? I always think about that when I make purchases. I load up my shopping cart online and then sleep on it, and in the morning, I ask myself, Do all these things bring you joy?
WWW: Love that tactic. Do you think Cristal, despite her unlimited budget, would do the same?
NK: For sure. Cristal definitely didn’t grow up in that kind of abundance; the Carringtons did, so she’s even more careful with her nice things. Nathalie can get a little careless, but not Cristal.
Love what you see so far? Tune into The CW’s Dynasty on Wednesdays at 9 p.m./8 p.m. Central.