Isabel May: A Miracle in Hollywood

Blue Floral Gown: Sachin and Babi  Earrings: Caterina Jewelry

Blue Floral Gown: Sachin and Babi
Earrings: Caterina Jewelry

You might be wondering who Isabel May is. The newcomer has a one in a million story, the kind that gets called an overnight success, and for once the cliche wouldn't be wrong.

In my time writing for Terroir, I've learned that most actors' success doesn't comes lightly. It's a combination of years of training, working server jobs, moving cities and involving countless tears through auditions not booked and living off two minute noodles. However Isabel's story is nothing short of a miracle, a phenomenon of sorts. She's that diamond in the rough, that was discovered at sixteen, plucked from obscurity and thrown into the limelight.

Blue Floral Gown: Sachin and Babi  Earrings: Caterina Jewelry 

Blue Floral Gown: Sachin and Babi 
Earrings: Caterina Jewelry 

Blue Floral Gown: Sachin and Babi  Earrings: Caterina Jewelry

Blue Floral Gown: Sachin and Babi
Earrings: Caterina Jewelry



It was a conscious decision by Isabel to become an actor and complete the trifecta of her friendship group. “I'd always said I'm gonna be an actor somedaybecause my other two friends are a dancer and singer. Meanwhile I had zero experience and was terrified.”

Her lack of experience did little to discourage both her and her agent. May auditioned for three years off and on, without landing a single role, but continued to show up with a positive attitude. “I did audition for three years, but I was devoted to school as were my parents. We kind of made a pact, that I had to wait until ninth grade to really commit to something like this.”

Placing importance on her schooling, Isabel fast tracked her education and started online schooling for her final years. “After ninth grade, I started online schooling, and six months later I got Alexa and Katie. So that was very convenient, I was really happy about that, as were my parents.”



Her call to acting came from more than just being the actress in her friendship group. An English teacher at her school, noticed the storytelling spark in Isabel and pushed her parents to get her involved in more than just academics. “I was an avid reader, at a young age, completely engrossed in fictional worlds. I love to write, as most actors do, they find other ways to express themselves, and my English teacher pulled my parents to the side in sixth grade, and said you gotta get her doing something else, cos she has to express this in some way.”

Suspender Pants: Elisabetta Franchi Boots: AllSaints

Suspender Pants: Elisabetta Franchi
Boots: AllSaints

The audition process that landed May's leading role wasn't new to the teen, however landing her first role on Alexa and Katie came as a huge shock and change in lifestyle. “When I say zero experience, I really emphasise zero experience.” Her acting training was limited, but it was her natural talent that shone through. “I sort of took acting, I tried every once in a while. I really did not commit the way I was supposed to, I'd go in once and then kind of forget to go in the next week.” When she screen tested with Paris Berelc, who is now her co-star, Isabel took the experience in the best way a teen could. “I went in and tested for it with Paris. I knew there were two other girls testing for the same character next to Paris, but was fun, I didn't feel pressure. I'm the kind of person who doesn't get too nervous. I enjoy myself so much and everyone on the project is really great.”


Looking back on where May has come from, she can barely believe the way her career has unfurled. “On doing any sort of theatre projects, I was the meek one at the background just shivering, so it didn't really make sense. It kind of unfolded and I don't know how or why, but it just occurred.”

This seventeen year old has taken her break and turned it into more than just a one off. Learning new skills and honing the natural talent she has while working on set, Isabel has been able to turn Alexa and Katie into a place of learning, family and friendship. In the first episode of season one, she has a touching moment where her character Katie shaves her head for best friend Alexa. It comes across as both honest and heartfelt, while turning immediately to Isabel's stellar comedic qualities. “These years - fifteen to eighteen - you change so much. I just kind of went in and I've always felt as though you have to feel like you really are that person, and you're genuinely in that moment. I just looked at her [Paris Berelc] and it happened.”

Her bond with the cast and crew has created a home away from home, and a place to learn and grow. “It was weird and interesting, because I never thought I was funny, I had no comedic qualities whatsoever, so it was strange to get a comedy and try to figure out how to do comedy. I have quite a long body so I found I could express myself comedically, physically in certain ways.”

Brown either Jacket: AllSaints  Stripe Button Up: Pinko Skirt: Elisabetta Franchi Earrings: Lucky Brand Thigh Highs: Aldo

Brown either Jacket: AllSaints 
Stripe Button Up: Pinko
Skirt: Elisabetta Franchi
Earrings: Lucky Brand
Thigh Highs: Aldo

Brown either Jacket: AllSaints  Stripe Button Up: Pinko Skirt: Elisabetta Franchi Earrings: Lucky Brand Thigh Highs: Aldo

Brown either Jacket: AllSaints
Stripe Button Up: Pinko
Skirt: Elisabetta Franchi
Earrings: Lucky Brand
Thigh Highs: Aldo

Isabel is conscious of the audience watching her and respects the character and story she has to tell. On taking a role that covers so many social issues, she has a lot to say. “I like that the show can relate this kind of information without slamming it into their face, they kinda get to sink into it and let it come naturally and think about it. Parents have told me, after they watch it with their kids they'll talk about the issues and these experiences and have these discussions which is really great.”

While comedy was a way for Isabel to stretch her skillset, the storyline was eerily similar to something that had happened in real life. “One of my closest friends, at fourteen had lymphoma. It was the most bizarre thing. We kind of looked at each other and went Did I just book this show, and it's your story?She said you're obviously taking a subject that's very difficult to talk about, but there's a lot of people going through it that aren't experiencing it in the way that everyone else thinks someone with cancer would be experiencing life.”


Graduating early from schooling, May is currently studying for college. “I'm taking college core classes right now to prepare. I just thought, I'm doing this, why not go all the way?”

But that doesn't mean she's put acting on hold. Rather, she's dividing her time equally between the two, and her most recent film “Let's Scare Julie To Death.” is set to premiere later this year. The suspense film was shot in one continuous ninety minute take, with the script serving as a blueprint rather than anything solid. “It was as opposite as possible from Alexa and Katie in every way, shape and form. There was no attachment to a script which was so freeing in a way. The environment was great. It's a low budget indie, and I had a fabulous time in Santa Clarita.”

Playing such differing roles for the newcomer, Isabel has her sights set on playing a darker role. “I'd really love to play someone twisted. I've always been a hardcore fan of psychological thrillers and bizarre dark stories. I absolutely love watching people on screen become these very terrifying people. Dark and twisted stories and characters, I'm all in.”

Green Sleeveless top: Petersyn  Shorts: Colton Dane 

Green Sleeveless top: Petersyn 
Shorts: Colton Dane 


Isabel finds joy in conveying characters and her own personal style by utilising fashion both on and off the screen. “I love fashion because it's just another form of self expression. I do think it plays a huge part on a character, you wear something that that person would wear and it just helps you so much more, become them.”



May keeps her advice for young actors simple and to the point. “I can say that rejection isn't a bad thing. Looking back on the many things I was rejected on, I'm so glad it was a rejection. It made me a better actor.”

She takes each success and failure as part of the process, learning not to put too much weight into the rejection. “Everything's meant to be, My mom and I have always said that. So just follow your own path.”

Red Suit: Zara Earrings: Caterina Jewelry  Shoes: Marco Proietti 

Red Suit: Zara
Earrings: Caterina Jewelry 
Shoes: Marco Proietti 

Red Suit: Zara Earrings: Caterina Jewelry  Shoes: Marco Proietti

Red Suit: Zara
Earrings: Caterina Jewelry
Shoes: Marco Proietti

Talent: Isabel May
Photographer: Leslie Alejandro
Photo Assist: Brandon Moningka
Article by: Melissa Riemer
Stylist: Gabriel Langenbrunner
Makeup: Grace Phillips using MAC Cosmetics
Hair: Hailey Adickes using R+Co and Verb
Special thanks to Netflix, Gina Hoffman