“I take inspiration from my fears.” Isaac Powell has been acting and singing since he was a child, which may be a contributing factor to why he is an absolute stand out on the shows he’s acted in (Modern Love and American Horror Story, to name a few). Not only is Powell a commander of the screen, but he’s also lit up several shows on Broadway and was even nominated for a Grammy just after graduating from university. Schön! caught up with him to talk about his latest projects and what he’s excited to do this upcoming year.
Hi Isaac! How was your weekend?
I had a fantastic weekend. Made some lovely memories.
Could you tell us a little about how you got into acting and singing?
I got into acting and singing through some girls my sister used to babysit. I’d hang out with them on summer breaks and they’d teach me songs and dances, and eventually [they] convinced me to audition for community theatre shows with them.
I saw you studied at North Carolina School of the Arts. What was your first big acting experience after college?
My first big acting job after graduating from UNCSA was a show called Once on This Island, in which I made my Broadway debut. I got the job about a month after I graduated college.
You’re in the upcoming film Cat Person. Can you tell us a bit about your character, Clay?
Clay is an ex-boyfriend of Margot who comes back into her life during a very pivotal moment in her new relationship. He’s in a moment of self-exploration and discovery when he and Margot reconnect.
Cat Person was widely received because readers found the narrative to be relatable; do you find it relatable in your own life?
I’ve had my fair share of bizarre dates, but nothing quite like what transpires in Cat Person.
Thank goodness. How was the Balenciaga show? What were some highlights?
Super exciting. It was my first time in Paris and Balenciaga hosted me very well. The highlight of the show for me was watching Cardi B shuffle down the front row across Anna Wintour and Isabelle Huppert to get to her seat. It was a truly iconic and priceless moment to behold.
Can you give us a couple of your favourite spots in Paris?
I was truly that American in Paris — the one wandering around aimlessly with my mouth agape at the beauty. I couldn’t tell you where all I went because I spent most of my short trip taking long walks in an unfamiliar city, but it would be hard to pick favourites anyway in a city as great as Paris.
You’ve acted in so many interesting productions. What narratives have resonated with you the most?
Narratives about tribalism really resonate with me. I often play characters that exist outside of the status quo and find themselves at odds with their assigned group or tribe. I’ve sort of grown up feeling like I don’t fit into any of the groups that society tells me I belong to.
What was it like to be nominated for a Grammy just out of university?
That was really exciting. I went to the Grammys all by myself and bawled during the Dolly Parton tribute.
What still inspires you today in your work?
It’s specific to each project, but there’s usually at least one or two scenes that I’m afraid to shoot, and I find that fear can be a great motivator in creative work. I take inspiration from my fears, I guess.
Looking back on 2021, what got you through those difficult times?
Having interesting work to do got me through. I had some really cool jobs in film, TV and fashion. It’s all I ever dreamed about as a kid, and I think I’ll look back at 2021as a really pivotal year in my life and career.
What are you most excited for this year?
I’m excited to meet the characters I’m going to play.
If you did not live in current times, what time period would you want to live in and why?
I’d go back to the Roman Empire because the art was good and the men were studs in skirts.
Cat Person is scheduled to be released this year.
photography. Chris Fucile
fashion. Brandon M. Garr
talent. Isaac Powell
grooming. Stephanie Paulino
production. EJ Jamele
photography assistant. Isaac Vega
fashion assistant. Theresa Landre
location. Bond Architecture
words. Abby Wright