In our ever-expanding efforts to get to know SI’s swimsuit models, we reached out to Natasha Barnard‘s best friend from childhood to get the inside scoop on the first-year swimsuit model. Here’s what Monique Minnie had to say.
SwimDaily: Tell me about yourself. What do you do for a living and all that good stuff?
Monique Minnie: I used to be a full-time model, then I got married and had a baby. So now I'm a full-time 'wifey' and proud mommy!
SD: Where are you from? Where do you live now?
MM: I was born and raised in a small town named Klerksdorp in the North West province in South Africa. Now I live in another small town named Secunda in Mpumalanga in South Africa.
SD: How long have you known Natasha?
MM: I've know my Tashy for eight years now. We met in a model house in Cape Town. Both of us moved there straight after school to start our career in modeling. I'm the only child and so is Tash. So ever since we've been soul sisters.
SD: Okay now that we've got all that out of the way -- tell us a good embarrassing story about Natasha?
MM: Hahahahahaha. There was this one time when we went out with friends to this very well known place called Caprice in Camps Bay. A lot of celebrities hung out there. So we had a couple of drinks and shooters ... we were dancing and having such a blast. The Proclaimers' 500 Miles is our song. So we kind of begged the DJ to play it. He did and we started dancing. We always danced very close to that song, Tash's arms around my neck and my arms around her waist. I still had a drink in my one hand. Obviously had heels on and the next thing you know I loose my balance and whoops we fall straight back on the floor. Tash on top of me, glass breaking everywhere! I still remember she had a mini floral skirt on. Everyone looked, started laughing and trying their best to help us up! I can just imagine how that must have looked like. Hahahaha
SD: Tell us another embarrassing story about Natasha? Maybe something involving a guy?
MM: There was this one time where Tash went to a New Year's party with friends and this one boy who she had the biggest crush on. Had a blast of a time. Tequila and champagne were flowing. And at the end of the night the guy she had a crush on, had to carry her out of the club. She felt pretty embarrassed about that.
SD: Now that we've embarrassed Natasha, tell us a story that shows what a good friend she is?
MM: There isn't really just one story that tells what a good friend she is. Everything Tash does every day for her friends is always special. She's always been very devoted, kind, loving, caring, understanding, supportive and loving! She would always light up a cloudy day!!! She loves baking, so she will bake cupcakes for birthdays which is so special. The bachelorette party that she threw for me was beyond amazing!!! She did absolutely everything to the highest degree. That day made me feel even more special. She always helps whenever someone is in need. She tells me every day how much she loves me. I could never have asked for a better best friend/soul sister! She loves hanging out with her friends as much as she can. Doing fun and wild stuff together. I always cherish our moments together. Watching the sun come up at our secret place (The Rock) overlooking the ocean. Eating Happy Hippos, driving around the whole of Cape Town in our pj's in the middle of the night, sitting on the balcony and talking for hours. Laughing and crying together. There is just too much to put into a sentence that describes what a good friend my Tashy is. Actually, words cannot describe.
SD: So your best friend is a SI swimsuit model. Tell us what that's like?
MM: It is pretty incredible!!! Tash always had big dreams and goals in life ... She has this 'nothing can stop me, but myself' way of living. I'm extremely proud of her. Tash is such a role model. Always grounded and thankful for every little thing in her life. It is pretty amazing and of course I just love to brag about her and how well she's done for herself.
SD: Did you ever imagine she'd be in SI?
MM: Oh yes!!!! Just because she was so devoted, positive and eager. And somehow I've always had this feeling that someday she will grace the pages of SI. I'm super proud of her. Oh and I mean really, she has an amazing body and that killer face. So its kind of undeniable. Wink, wink.
SD: What was Natasha like in high school?
MM: I didn't know Tash those years. But from sharing our stories when we were in school, I picked up that she was very laid back and a bit shy. But was also confident in herself.
SD: Was she popular? Nerdy? Did she always have a boyfriend?
MM: Tash always had a lot of friends. She's so easy going and likes to mingle. She made easier friends with boys though, just because girls in school tend to be jealous and would be a bit nasty. Tash was in a technical school and had woodwork as a subject, which is pretty much a only boys subject and school. I think that's also a reason for all the guy friends. The girlfriends she had was so wonderful to her, she didn't need a lot of them. Definitely not nerdy. Never had a boyfriend ... she just ignored them and played it cool.
SD: Was she close to her family?
MM: Definitely! Her family is her everything!!! They are the most important part of her life. They are so supportive, caring and loving. Tashy had an older brother, who unfortunately passed away when she was very young. Tragedy like that always has a way of making you count your blessings everyday. And just feeling blessed to still have the rest of your family and appreciate them even more.
SD: Natasha loves F-1 racing. Was she into it in high school? Did she play any sports?
MM: Yes, Tash was always into sports. She loves sports. Being a 'Boeremeisie' from a very small town called Witbank in South Africa, means that she was kind of born loving sports. She loves playing golf. In school she played net ball. Loves watching cricket and rugby, and always tries to be at the rugby games. I know since she moved to New York she also loves ice hockey and baseball. She's a HUGE F-1 fan. I don't think she's ever missed a race.
SD: Did you guys go to any embarrassing concerts or have any embarrassing dance routines?
MM: No. But dancing when we used to go out, our friends would tease us and say, "this is the Tash-Tash dance" and try to dance like that and same with me. So we had our signature dance if you could say that. Lol. We also danced on tables at two different concerts once.
SD: How often do you get to see Natasha now?
MM: This is a very sad topic for me. I don't get to see her much at all. The last time I saw her was a year and 3 months ago on my birthday. But even though years pass and we don't see each other, every time we do see each other then it feels like no time has passed. We just have that amazingly special connection and relationship. I carry her with me in my heart every day.
SD: Have you ever been out with her when she's recognized?MM: