THE CIRCLE: INTERVIEW WITH NATALYA (MEET THE PLAYERS)

NAME: Natalya

AGE: 30

OCCUPATION: Military Policewoman

FROM: Reigate

PLAYING AS: Felix, a 29-year-old paratrooper


What is your MOTIVATION FOR ENTERING THE CIRCLE? What is it about the game that made you want to apply? I like the message that I'm portraying, that all is not what you see with the gender roles in the military. It would be nice to say that a female in armed forces can still retain her femininity as well as being a successful solider. I think the more powerful meaning behind it is that, I can do exactly the same as what any man can do, but because of my gender it's not always been seen as the case. The army has changed their rules and are now letting women join the infantry, but when you’re a female, people tend look at you and think you're not physically as capable as a guy. It would be nice to have a positive influence, especially on a younger audience.

Have you watched the show before and did that give you any tips on how to play the game? I binge watched it, I loved it. I was addicted. Everyone loves Tim from series two, I just think he's the best. I think the first series was a lot more natural and people didn't understand what they were doing but by series two everyone had a game plan and tactics. You have to go in with a tactic now, I think watching it opened my eyes to the fact that you can’t just go in and chill out.

What is your STRATEGY to win show? Are there any specific tactics that you think will help you win? I've taken in 300 questions to ask someone to really get to know them and I'm going to keep probing people. If they're tripping up and saying the wrong thing, I'll remember it. I have got a really good memory as well. I've got brain training games so I'm going all psychological on this. In my day-to-day life I’ve had a lot of experience figuring people out from working in the military, I’m constantly on high alert. I'm a really quick judge of character.

I've created the perfect man. He's every childhood boy's dream, he's an action hero, he's good looking, I think he's got it all. He's got the females on side because he's going to be charming and sweet and he's got my softness behind his character. He's the ideal soldier guy so he's respected in society and he’s got a job that everyone admires and loves. I just don't know how I could go wrong. I mean I probably might, but he seems like the ideal guy!

You are playing as Felix. How does that differ from the person I am speaking to right now and why did you decided to play as someone else? Felix is an alpha male, and I'm completely different. I'm soft and feminine, so I’ll be walking around in bunny pyjamas and pink fluffy slippers so it's a complete juxtaposition. I would imagine we both have the same mental resilience and strength, so it's only outwardly that we're different. The important stuff in our heads is all the same. The gender shouldn't make a difference because we would have had a lot of similar life experiences.

I think I had to play a man to do this. If I went in as me, as a female saying I'm in the military they would think I’m not a real person. They would think I'm a catfish, because they might assume I’m too girly from my pictures. I'd also probably get judged a little on my job role. I think people would probably question it. I would spend the game trying to justify my career, which is not the point of it. I think as a guy it will be so easy, people would expect it and they wouldn't question it. I'm also not just some civilian pretending to be an Army Boy. I know his backstory, because it’s my backstory as well.

Are you worried about any backlash you might get when you reveal that you are not the person you are saying you are? In past series like with James/Sammy, he played a female and used someone's vulnerability to get ahead but I'm doing the opposite. I don't think if I was revealed as a female people would hate me straight away. I mean, I could be wrong. I think they'd understand the message much easier than if I was playing a cancer doctor or something else. I’m the same person I'm just male instead of female. I don't think the backlash will be as strong as it might be with a different kind of catfish. I could be wrong and I'm prepared for it, but I think it's a nice message. There's nothing malicious about it.

How much research have you done on your catfish personality? Oh my god, so much! I work with guys every day, so I hear boy banter and chat, I know how to be a man through and through. It’s women that I’ve forgotten how to speak to.

How do you feel about being on TV? I'm impartial. I've recorded some travel vlogs for the British Army before, so being in front of a camera doesn't bother me. I'm not shy, but I'm probably not someone who's going to leave their job and become a social media influencer. I don’t think it's going to be as life changing for me in that sense as it could be for some people.

How much do you use social media in the real world? Not a lot really. I used to have Facebook but deleted it because I just couldn't be bothered with it. I've got Instagram but it’s on private. I got TikTok and made one video of me drinking tea and realized I can't do TikTok!

In real life how does your online social media self differ to who you really are in person? It portrays a completely different side to how people at work would see me. If I would post a picture it would be me in a girly summery dress on holiday, it wouldn't necessarily be me in uniform. If you go on my social media, you would think I’m a catfish.

Who do you admire on social media? Who do you think uses it well? I can’t think of anyone.

Have you ever been catfished? Or caught a catfish? Oh god yeah in my 20s when I used to have Tinder and Bumble everyone isn't what they say they are. It's not even the pictures, it's the personality catfishing which is the worst. They’ll say they love the outdoors and then you meet them and they are full on lying and not who they say they are. I can deal with the pictures, that’s fine, but it's the pretending to be someone else as a human being that I struggle with. I don’t get how they can say all of this while sitting at home in pajamas. I don't mind doing that either, just don’t lie about it because that's the part that's going to catch up with you.

Do you think you'll be able to spot any catfish on the show? 100%. You can tell by how people speak and the nuances they use. I think it's easy. I did journalism at Uni and a term in psychology so I'm really into body language. You can tell by how people speak and how they write. If your boyfriend's texting you, you can tell if he's annoyed, angry or happy. Or when a girl says K you know you’re in trouble.

Do you think what you say on The Circle matters or will you say anything if it would help you win? I think it matters massively because I’m aware that I'm portraying quite a big message so I'm not just going to say anything to win. I'll be myself but I wouldn't do anything immoral.

Do you ever use social media to flirt or look for love? If I was to be single now, I would never use online dating or social media. People talk to you now by sliding into your dm’s and it's terrifying. You can't meet people face-to-face nowadays. Back in my youth I did, but if someone hasn't even read your message it's just a big pie in the face. I think it's a really pointless way of meeting people because you're looking at a photo and assuming they're going to be this dream person.

Has social media made it easier or more difficult for people to find romance? Do you think it is possible to fall in love online? More difficult. It should make it easier because it's so accessible, but because you have so much choice, I think people get lazy and don't invest in proper relationships. Now you can just swipe to the next one. But I do think people can fall in love online, because you can develop those feelings.

Will you be open to people flirting with you on the show? Felix is a good-looking guy and there will probably be girls that fancy him. I think everyone knows that it's a game in that sense. If you're going to fall for my character that's on you, not on me. I'm just a charming, sweet man, what have I done wrong? It's on you if you fall in love with me, I'm sorry.

Do you want to win? How far will you go to win? Of course, I want to win and it would be awesome. It's not the be all and end all though. I think it'd be a cool experience to win but it’s not like I would think this is it for me, my life stops here.

What would you do with the prize money? I’m not very adult with my life choices, so I’d probably go travelling. I’d take a year off and just travel. Some people would buy a house or car but with the state the world is in at the minute I just want to go and see what there is to see. I absolutely love travelling. But that’s not what Felix would do. He’d set up a training camp for children. What a sweetheart!

Any surprising facts or hidden talents that we should know about you? I'm quite good at gymnastics. I'll probably be doing handstands and bridges in the house. I'm quite into my fitness. I absolutely love doing magic, which is so nerdy. I've literally bought playdough in with me and that’s probably not something you would expect a British soldier to do. I'm really outdoorsy as well. I love wild camping and going solo traveling. Last year, I went to 12 countries on my own. I speak Russian but I think people can tell that from my name!


The Circle continues tonight at 10pm on Channel 4 and All4.