Isabela Merced is a force to be reckoned with. At only 19-years-old, Merced simultaneously balances a successful music and acting career, accomplishing things that some can only hope to achieve. Growing up in Ohio of Peruvian and American descent, Merced’s culture plays a big part in not only her everyday life but also her music career. The 19-year-old already has several hit songs such as “My Only One (No Hay Nadie Más)” featuring Sebastian Yatra which gained almost 50 million Spotify streams and her debut single “Papi” garnered 5 million Spotify streams. Billboard even named Merced one of the top 15 new Peruvian artists to listen to in 2020.
In regards to her acting, Merced gained recognition as the lead on Nickelodeon’s ‘100 Things to Do Before High School,’ she played Dora in the ‘Dora and the Lost City of Gold’ film, and if that wasn’t impressive enough, the Peruvian beauty is now starring in this summer’s Dreamworks animated film, ‘Spirit Untamed’ alongside Julianne Moore and Jake Gyllenhaal.
HOLA! USA had the opportunity to exclusively chat with Merced all about her new film, who her biggest acting inspiration is, and how she balances all of her success at such a young age.
“I’m already in the process of achieving one of my goals which is producing a movie that I’m also going to be starring in, so that’s pretty awesome. That’s something I wanted and I didn’t even think it was possible so soon in my career, I really did not.” [Merced]
It just kind of came together so naturally. It was a little over two years ago that I met the team, the director and producer, etc. the whole group, mind you they’re all women. So when I walked in and saw that, I was like ‘Oh, that’s crazy!’ I haven‘t worked with this many women in forever, you don’t really get a lot of all female teams behind a movie in Hollywood, it’s not something that usually happens, so I was very excited right off the bat. They showed me the drawings on this board and on the TVs, drawings were everywhere and you can tell that they were in it. So to see the whole process from zero to 100 like the end of the movie, it made me very emotional.
Recording a voiceover movie is already very comfortable as it is, you’re in a booth, you get to wear what you want, you get to show up however you want. And they’re quite flexible with their dates and with the pandemic on top of that, I got to do it from home and I would go in my pajamas. We have our own home studio here for music and we already have a setup, my brother is actually a producer. He learned how to engineer, he was engineering, and he got paid. Like who could say that they’ve worked for Dreamworks at 16, it’s crazy.
Yeah, too much honestly. I watch her make the mistakes she makes and I cringe because I know I’d do the exact same. It just makes me feel that much more attached to the character. Everyday that they made changes to the script, it was like they were making changes for me because I learned who I was as a person and it was amazing and at the end of the movie, I felt like the relationship between Lucky and Spirit was amazing because they also are quite the same. They have that instant, soulmate-type connection from the beginning of the movie when they see each other on the train and it’s so amazing. She and I, we’re very impulsive, wild, and just overall want to make people happy and I think that’s what I love the most about her.
Robin Williams inspires me. He embodied everything that I wanted in each character of mine in my career. He’s able to bring out the character of the character and he’s also able to make people happy without trying sometimes. When I found out that he and I have the same sun, moon, and rising in the exact same places - he’s a cancer sun, pisces moon, and Scorpio rising and I’m the exact same. I wanted him to be my dad growing up so when I found that out, I was like ‘That’s insane!’
I think it’s hard because if I were to choose a different career path, I would choose something like finance or economics. So when you’re in two different industries, you’re introduced to two different groups of people that you’re working with on a daily basis but if they’re in the entertainment industry like both of mine are, it’s twice the drama, twice the issues and balancing the both and then your personal life, it’s very complicated but luckily I have a wonderful mother who supports me no matter what and she just has my back and always is there for me so without her, I don’t think I’d be able to do it and I’d be going crazy. Another thing I have in common is that she found her community, people that love her and support her no matter what and she’s never had that her whole life.
I think people are very used to generalizing Latin music in one category and when you ask people about, especially in the states, where not a lot of people know what happens outside of the states so they’re like ‘Oh you’re Mexican.’ No, I speak Spanish, I’m not Mexican. There are other places aside from Mexico. They’re like ‘Where in South America?’ And I’m like ‘Yeah, name one.’ So my goal with my culture and my music and ways I can incorporate that, making sure people know the damn difference. Each country in South America has their own specialities, their own flavors, they just have their own thing going and I think it’s important to educate people and raise awareness because Peru, it is a beautiful place and it has so much to offer but it’s very underrated, so for that they usually tend to struggle economically.
I’m already in the process of achieving one of my goals which is producing a movie that I’m also going to be starring in, so that’s pretty awesome. That’s something I wanted and I didn’t even think it was possible so soon in my career, I really did not. So I’m very grateful for that and it’s crazy and I’m very lucky and blessed to have this life and things that I want to happen and they happen. It’s just crazy, I have people looking over me and are like ‘I got you’ and I think in order to achieve goals like that I think you just have to be overall a very positive person, you need to know what you want and you need to know that you’re fully capable of getting it and luckily I had that in a human form with my mom because she’s that motivator for me on a daily basis. I would also love to go on tour and sing.
More from Isabela Merced in this video!