A Conversation with Isabella Gomez

I had the pleasure of speaking with actress Isabella Gomez about her role in Initiation — available in theaters and on VOD and digital May 7, 2021.

We also discuss social media, her exciting new role in HBO’s Head of the Class reboot and her strong powers of manifestation.

One of the many reasons Isabella is dear to me is her enormous sense of empathy. Not only does this make her an actress of the highest caliber, it makes her one of the most open hearted people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

Isabella Gomez

Yanis: Hey how’s it going?

Isabella: I’m good how are you?

Y: Good. Nice to speak with you again. This movie is definitely a departure from what I’ve seen you in.

I: (Laughs)

Y: What made you say yes to this movie?

I: Well it started with Froy Gutierrez, who in season one of One Day at a Time was a part of the cast. We had run into each other and he was already attached to Initiation.

He was like “you would be perfect for this role,” and so he got the director and I to connect.

I read the script and I couldn’t put it down. I thought it was so fun. I thought it was not your typical horror movie. I was on the edge of my seat. I thought I just had to be a part of it.

Y: Absolutely. And you got to act alongside Bart Johnson, famous for playing Coach Bolton in the High School Musical franchise. He plays the swimming coach this time.

I: He does indeed, and he is the coolest. We all definitely took pictures with him because he will always be Coach Bolton. (Laughs)

Y: Excellent. I was really hoping he’d tell Wes to get his head in the game…

I: (Laughs)

Y: …but maybe that’s in the director’s cut.

I: That would have been good.

Y: That would have been good. So Kylie. Different character than you’ve played before. Any challenges in particular playing her? I know being a dramatic actress was always your aspiration, so was this your way of finally getting to do that in a film?

Isabella Gomez and Lindsay LaVanchy

I: There are challenges in every role, but like you said, I always wanted to do drama. This felt like coming home in a way and it was really fun.

I was definitely nervous about the bigger emotional scenes. I wanted to make sure they were sustainable and grounded. That I wasn’t screaming and sobbing for screaming and sobbing’s sake.

I wanted to make sure it all came from a place of truth, so that was a little nerve wracking. But once we started doing it, it really flowed out of me. I was very surprised by how in the movie I was and how in the circumstances I was.

I was very lucky to have the most supportive cast members, and our director John. He’s incredible, and so once we got into it, it felt right and it felt easy.

Y: It seemed that way watching it. Was one scene in particular either the most demanding of you or one you feel proudest of?

I: The scene at the very end, which I can’t talk about explicitly. It was really tough because it’s after the twist happens. It’s all the characters coming to terms with what it is and what is going on and trying to piece together everything that’s happened and make it make sense.

It hits Kylie pretty hard and that was very demanding.

Y: Yeah I saw a screener of the film and I was blown away by your performance in that scene. Did you guess the twist ending as you were reading the script or did it just take you completely by surprise?

Isabella Gomez

I: It took me completely by surprise, which is kind of what I loved about it. I feel like with twist endings you can usually kind of see by the middle of the movie. I had no idea.

Y: Excellent.

Kylie has a panic attack or at the very least what seems like one.

As someone with anxiety, do you draw on that or do you rely on your process? I know you don’t use method acting. How did you approach some of those scenes that mirrored experiences you’ve had?

I: I definitely always draw from my life. Not in a method way. The more you live, the more you understand certain experiences and so it’s easier to tap into them.

I happened to have acute bronchitis during filming, and that actually is really helpful during a horror film! It’s very easy to get out of breath. Very easy to feel sick. Very easy to feel scared and overwhelmed. I leaned into that.

I didn’t really have a choice, but my body was able to guide me and that’s kind of how that worked out.

Y: Great and it all paid off.

I: Yeah.

Y: This film definitely highlights the dangers of social media. What’s your strategy for navigating social media as somebody in the public eye?

I: I don’t know that I have a “strategy” per se. I take things one day at a time, no pun intended, and just figure out how I’m feeling the day of.

I’ve definitely become more reserved and I’m definitely a lot more private about my personal life. I think social media can be incredibly draining and very toxic for a lot of people. I’ve been put in a weird position where I kind of have to do it because of my job.

It’s the position that all of us actors are in. It’s an interesting relationship because we don’t get to say “alright I'm done and I'm not doing it anymore.”

It’s just kind of finding the ebb and flow and figuring out what works for me that day. What I want to share and what I don’t want to share. Especially right now when I’m kind of in between projects and I’m not doing as much press.

I’m not as much in the public eye with COVID and I’m not going to events and stuff. I’ve taken the time to be a little bit more reserved and keep things to myself a bit more.

Y: I totally appreciate that. I admire you for posting about Instagram vs. reality.

Why do you feel compelled to pull back the curtain on this part of the industry?

I: I feel a big sense of responsibility because I don’t ever want anybody to look at my social media and feel bad about themselves. Once you start working a lot in this industry, you start meeting a lot of your heroes and the people that you looked at on social before.

You realize what they look like on social media is not what they look like in person.

There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s really beautiful. We’re all humans at the end of the day, but this industry is so big on curated content and making everything look perfect and glamorous. That’s exhausting, and I don’t want that to be me.

I don’t want young girls or young boys or young people to ever look at my stuff and feel like they’re less than, or that they wish they looked like me.

I definitely partake in the curated content and I think it can be really fun, but I like to sprinkle in the “hey this is what I actually look like and here is how you get these poses and these looks and these pictures.” It’s not just me.

Usually a picture is a whole team behind it, so I think being transparent about that is really important.

Y: One of the many reasons people love you is your transparency. You have such a luminous quality. That luminosity leads you to manifest things.

I want to hear all about how manifestation led you to star in HBO’s upcoming Head of the Class reboot. I can’t think of a more deserving person.

I: Thank you! I don’t really know how I did it. I’m big on manifesting in the sense of I have a dream board. I speak things into existence in the way of “yeah I’ll work at Warner Brothers or whatever” but I think when things are meant to be they kind of just happen.

I was very lucky to become involved in this project. Originally we weren’t shooting at Warner Brothers. Because of everything happening with COVID everything got pushed back and eventually we landed at Warner Brothers. I always say my manifestation powers are strong, but I am not in control of them.

Y: Exactly, you take things one day at a time. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with me. What’s next for you?

I: We’re shooting the season for Head of the Class sometime this summer. I don’t think we have an official start date yet, but that is what’s coming up for me.

Initiation hits theaters and VOD and digital May 7, 2021.

You can follow Isabella Gomez on Instagram and Twitter. If you want more of Isabella and I, click here to read our conversation from 2020.



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