“She loved it — it was one of her favorite roles,” Ms. Robinson recalled the actress as telling her. “She got to be in a fairy tale that was changed from white to Black.”
“For young Black kids to see stories that include them, even fairy tales, is such an ‘I belong and I am in this world, too,’ message,” Ms. Robinson said.
Natalie Desselle Reid was born in Alexandria, La., on July 12, 1967. Her father, Paul Desselle, was an executive groundskeeper at the England Air Force Base in Alexandria. Her mother, Thelma, was a cafeteria worker who later became an administrative assistant at Peabody Magnet High School, from which Natalie, her sisters Paula and Calisa, and brother, Sherman, all graduated.
On April 6, 2003, Ms. Desselle married Leonard Reid. The couple had a son, Sereno, 23, and two teenage daughters, Summer, and Sasha. Ms. Desselle took her husband’s surname but continued to work as Natalie Desselle.
She is survived by her husband, three children, two sisters, brother and father.
Like her character in “BAPS,” Ms. Desselle, who Ms. Robinson said had been inspired to pursue acting by the 1950 film “All About Eve,” went west to become a star. She cold-called Ms. Robinson, one of the few Black women working as a manager at that time, and asked to meet with her.
“I wasn’t exactly happy to take on too many Black clients because it was just too difficult to get them work,” Ms. Robinson said. “And being Black myself, that’s quite a statement to make.”