Canadian Doubles As Paris Hilton
Natalie Reid Is Paid To Let People Think She's The Real Paris Hilton
By Joyanna Pursaca
Winnipeg Free Press
WINNIPEG - For a second, it may have appeared hotel heiress Paris Hilton had Transcona roots.
That's because Natalie Reid, a former Winnipegger now billed as the world's best Paris look-alike, is earning fame and fortune from her celebrity features in New York.
In an Entertainment Tonight Canada interview aired Tuesday, the impersonator revealed she's "from Transcona, baby!"
Yet in the midst of her newfound fame, Reid actually yearns for a Winnipeg winter.
"I miss skating and trudging through snow in big snow storms," she told the Sun yesterday.
Reid got the idea when photographers repeatedly told her she looked exactly like the celebrity heiress. She moved to New York to cash in on the idea in June 2005.
"It's really natural," Reid said, while receiving hair extensions to play Paris at a New York night club yesterday. "Paris and I have a lot in common and the same bone structure and body shape. We both love to party and love fashion and shopping and boys."
Reid left Winnipeg at age 17 and began modelling in Calgary soon after. Now in New York, her typical night at work includes attending the latest club, hotel or restaurant opening dressed as the Simple Life star.
The 21-year-old model earns between $700 and $2,000 per "Paris" appearance.
Reid said the job has perks such as free meals at posh restaurants, VIP treatment at the hottest clubs and even one $50,000 shopping spree at an expensive boutique.
Reid doesn't necessarily pretend to be Hilton, she just doesn't correct those who assume she is.
"I like the fact everyone loves her and getting the reaction from people about her," said the celebrity double.
Reid recently met the real Paris at Marquee, a New York night club.
"She took a second look at me and said, 'Oh my God, you look so much like me. That's hot,'" she said.
Life as an almost-heiress may clash with Reid's former job cleaning freshwater fish in a Transcona factory across from her townhouse.
But she doesn't expect Winnipeg acquaintances will be shocked by her current career.
"My teachers always made fun of me for doing my makeup in class," said the former College Pierre-Elliott Trudeau student. "If they saw me, they wouldn't be surprised how I turned out.
"Reid looks so much like Paris her pictures once fooled her own mom.
"I said to my other daughter, 'why is Natalie sending pictures of Paris?'" her mother, Carole Reid, said from her Transcona home yesterday. "I had to really look at the photo to see it was her."
But she didn't always see fame in her daughter's future.
"It's just really overwhelming. It's something no one ever would have imagined," said Carole. "When she was six years old she had wanted to be an archeologist for the longest time."
"Being Natalie is the hardest part."
Being the mirror image of Paris Hilton isn't all champagne and caviar.
Now famous for her heiress-like looks, Natalie Reid said she has suffered the pitfalls of celebrity.
It's not uncommon for the paparazzi to hide behind bushes and jump out to snap a "Paris" picture, she said. And she's also barraged by fans for photos and autographs."
One time, I actually had a dangerous situation when I got bombarded by tourists who were getting aggressive to take my picture and a girl kicked me," Reid said. "People get out of control when they see celebrities."
The look-alike says her resemblance also can make being herself extremely difficult.
"Being Natalie is the hardest part," she said. "When I want to see someone as me I have to wear a wig. I often have to change my look to leave my apartment."
And like any celebrity, she's bashed online - simply by being fake by those who aren't "faux Paris" fans.
But signing on to Screaming Queens Entertainment, which books drag queens, strippers and celebrity impersonators for parties and events, wasn't daunting at all, she said.I thought what they do was interesting. I've never been afraid, that's one of my personality traits," said Natalie. "I'm pretty bold."
Her mother, Carole Reid, said her climb to mock fame has at times been difficult to adjust to for the family.
"This has been more attention than we ever dreamed of. This is off the scales," said Carole. "You come from humble beginnings into stardom. It's been really strange for all of us."