Central Catholic grad Natalie Gialluca is Entertainment Weekly photo editor.
As photo editor at Entertainment Weekly, Natalie Gialluca-Purcell routinely brushes shoulders with celebrity A-listers.
She was in Los Angeles last week to supervise photo shoots that reunited the stars of the movies "My Best Friend's Wedding" and "27 Dresses" for an EW Valentine's Day issue saluting romantic comedies.
"I do a lot of those reunions. Those are so fun but they are so challenging schedule-wise," said Gialluca-Purcell, a 2000 Central Catholic High School graduate. "Ghostbusters" and "Mean Girls" are two other reunion pics she mentioned.
A major focus of her job is planning and supervising photo shoots for EW covers.
"I've done two with Julia Roberts," she said. "I've done all the 'Outlander' covers. Two 'Crazy Rich Asians' covers." The list continued: "Riverdale," "Will and Grace," "Gilmore Girls." Reese Witherspoon, Taraji P. Henson, Darren Criss, Nick Jonas. Most of her work is television-related, reflecting her personal interests.
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Gialluca-Purcell's Manhattan-based magazine career began with an internship at YM Magazine during her senior year at Kent State University. She followed her 2005 graduation with stints at the magazines More, Latina and The Knot.
"I really liked working at magazines and I kept applying for jobs," she said. "I had a good enough portfolio that they hired me at EW in spring 2013. I was one of 10 people in the photo department, and I just worked my way up."
After two months at EW, she went on her first celebrity shoot with Jerry Seinfeld.
"I love his comedy, I love his show, and it was beyond exciting," she said. "It meant so much to me. It was a dream come true."
Recently, Gialluca-Purcell coordinated a photo shoot with actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan from TV's "The Walking Dead."
"We photographed him at his farm in upstate New York, and he and his wife were the loveliest people. She made us these breakfast egg muffin things and he took us around the farm. He has all these rescue animals," she said.
She has many photo-shoot anecdotes form her six years at EW.
Andy Cohen posed in a jacuzzi sipping champagne on a hotel rooftop at night. Julia-Louis Dreyfus was instrumental in coming up with funny photo concepts for her shoot. Blake Lively, a favorite of Gialluca-Purcell's from her "Gossip Girl" days," was "your girl next door, nice, friendly and outgoing." Kerry Washington "really stands out. She was just lovely, sweet and kind."
Concept to cover
For a series of EW covers of the "Outlander" TV series, Gialluca-Purcell traveled to Scotland twice and South Africa. "When I got that assignment, I'd never seen the show," she confessed. "It's actually insanely popular, and the people who like it are obsessed with it."
Her biggest photo shoot logistically was one in 2015 celebrating TV mega-producer Shonda Rhimes.
"I got the casts from (Rhimes' series) 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'Scandal' and 'How to Get Away With Murder' in the same room, probably 40 people including Shonda and her two creative partners. It was the most amazing, magnificent, insane, crazy day. And we maybe shot for 20 minutes."
Typically, when Gialluca-Purcell gets a cover assignment, she will watch the TV series or film and research the stars to start developing creative cover concepts. Next she will brainstorm with her photo director, come up with possible photographers, then present ideas to EW's editor-in-chief.
"From there, I book everyone I need to make that vision come to life," she said. "Set designers, what props we need, what the furniture should look like, the color palette, the wardrobe stylist. It's not just me making decisions, it's very collaborative, a lot of phone calls."
On the day of the photo shoot, or "game day," it is Gialluca-Purcell who welcomes the arriving star.
"I usually greet them, get them situated in the hair and makeup room, go in with the photographer and give them an idea of what we're hoping to accomplish, break the ice a little bit. You need to keep the celebrity happy. You need them to smile in front of the camera. You want everyone to be into it. You want them to be happy with the photos so they'll post (the story) on their social media, and their publicist will have other clients work with us."
This would be a whirlwind career for a single woman, but there's more to the story. In 2016, Gialluca-Purcell married Steven Purcell, a Manhattan-based attorney.
"I met him when he asked me for directions," she said. "We met in the real world, which is not normal anymore."
At first the couple lived in Brooklyn, but after the birth of their daughter, Nora Jean Purcell, 13 months ago, the family relocated to Westchester, which requires a commute into New York City for Steven and Natalie.
"We both have very demanding jobs, we both have to travel. Last summer, I had just gotten back (to work) from maternity leave and I had to go to Scotland. Luckily, my mom (Celeste Gialluca) lives in New York, and my husband is very supportive. When I'm gone, he makes sure Nora gets fed and the animals get fed. We both like having careers and both like having a family."
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