Natalia Bryant is known as a daughter and sister. But of course, she is much more than the lens she has grown under and the tragedies that have marked her life. Bryant is now carving her own path in this world — and one of her biggest steps in doing so is snagging the latest cover (and her first-ever) for Teen Vogue.
In her first major photo shoot and profile, Bryant spoke on her identity, family, and decision to leave sports. While she was on track to become a college volleyball star, she decided to stop playing following the tragic passing of her father Kobe Bryant and younger sister Gianna in January 2020. The tragic incident left her feeling overwhelmed yet self-reflective. “I love the sport,” she told Teen Vogue. “I quit volleyball after the accident because I was so … a lot was going on at that time. I knew I didn’t… love volleyball as much as they love basketball. I’m okay with that.” Hinting that this decision isn’t an end-all, she added, “I just wanted to take a break from it.”
Now, Bryant is a film major at the University of Southern California and a signed IMG model. With more clarity in her direction, she’s also getting to understand more about her mixed identity. “I’m biracial,” Bryant shared about being Blaxican (Bryant’s mother, Vanessa Bryant, is of Mexican descent). “When I was younger, I didn’t really understand… how I’m both. As I got older, I was able to understand.”
She even spoke on her Spanish middle name: Diamante, adding “My mom just picked out my name. Diamante in Spanish is diamond.”
Bryant actually grew up with her late father working on his Spanish-speaking skills often. Before his passing, Kobe Bryant credited 2005’s telenovela La Madrastra and the legendary Sabado Gigante with improving his fluency. When asked by Univision how he first learned the language, he proudly replied, “Watching novelas with my wife, Vanessa, and with my mother-in-law as well.”
This cover is only one of many the things coming for Bryant, and she’s keeping her head up high as she honors her father and sister in her journey. “You do the best that you can,” she says when asked how her family’s doing. “[For] my little sisters [we’re] trying to keep that memory for them. And also just trying to remember to live out every day the way they would.”
The world will have to continue to keep an eye out on the emerging star — whether that’s as a filmmaker, model, volleyball player, or all of that and more. And we will be cheering Bryant on every step of the way.