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Daily Inspiration: Meet Isabella Thatcher

Today we’d like to introduce you to Isabella Thatcher.

Hi Isabella, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
The arts have been such an important part of my life and my identity since the moment I was born. I grew up in a very musical family and have always drawn inspiration from the artists with whom I have been surrounded for my whole life. My grandfather was 9-time Academy Award-winning composer Alfred Newman, and although he died long before I was born, I still feel his presence clearly. He was a giant in his industry and has left behind an enormous legacy for my family. From a young age, I was always listening to his music as well as the music of my other Newman family members – my uncles, film composers Thomas and David Newman; my cousin, singer/songwriter Randy Newman; and my wonderful mother, composer/violinist/violist Maria Newman. Their music, artistry, and dedication to their craft inspired me to pursue my own career in the arts and continue on the Newman legacy in my own unique way.

Since before I was born, music has always surrounded me. Being the child of two wonderful musicians, I was given unique and formative opportunities to travel across the country at a young age and watch my family at work. I met musicians from across the globe and spent every year surrounded by inspiring, dedicated instrumentalists, vocalists and conductors. My parents eventually founded the Malibu Friends of Music, and our home became the Montgomery Arts House for Music and Architecture, which has brought together musicians from all around the world to come perform in an intimate salon setting and has brought the Los Angeles community closer together than ever before. The Montgomery Arts House for Music and Architecture has, for many years now, been the setting of a magnificent concert series and summer festival, one that I have been fortunate enough to grow up with and eventually perform in.

My own endeavor into the arts truly began when I was six years old, and I learned my first cello piece. While I had begun my instrumental studies on the violin, I came to realize quickly that I felt more called to the cello due to its rich quality. Playing this instrument helped me to develop many important skills that have continued to benefit me in my life, learning, and ongoing development as an artist and an individual. I learned the importance of dedication and patience and that, in order to improve, one must be willing to first make mistakes. These lessons have been the foundation of my growth and work as an artist and are tenants I continue to keep in mind as I venture farther into my life.

As I grew, I found that my artistic interests began to expand. I began studying classical voice when I was nine years old and found a true passion in vocal music. Learning how to use my voice to express myself and the works of composers I admired gave me a freedom I had not previously experienced. It also introduced me in earnest to the thrill of performing for a live audience – a thrill that sparked a lifelong love of the stage. As a singer, I have had the opportunity and privilege of singing for multiple albums, performing as a featured artist on many concerts and events, and touring the continental United States. Since my first foray into vocal music, I have been honored to work in classical music, musical theatre, folk music, and beyond. The versatility of the human voice and the vast array of works written for this incredible instrument continue to amaze and inspire me.

It was my work as a vocalist that led me to explore the world of acting. My first spark of interest as an actor was in voice acting, a medium that I admire so thoroughly and sincerely hope to work in as opportunity presents itself. I was amazed by how the simple human voice could be reshaped, moulded, and altered to fit the needs of the story or reach new heights with the aid of the character. The commitment and artistry exemplified by voice actors has been and continue to be inspiring to me.

With this initial interest in the acting world in mind, I made the decision to try my hand at acting for the stage. I began my journey as an actor with school plays, dipping my toes into the rich and complex art form that I have come to love with my whole being. I realized quickly that acting was the great passion of my life and made the decision to pursue it as a career. I enrolled as a Theatre Major at the Oregon Center for the Arts in Ashland, Oregon, where I trained under leading industry professionals from the acclaimed Oregon Shakespeare Festival and beyond. While at the OCA, I had the opportunity to study not only the many styles and forms of acting, from modern to Shakespeare to acting for film, but musical theatre, dance, voice acting, stage combat, and more. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from the OCA in 2020, finishing my last term via Zoom due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

I am currently working as a Resident Artist with the Montgomery Arts House for Music and Architecture in Malibu, California, as well as starring in the upcoming urban fantasy web series “Burn The Witch – The Series,” which is set for an October 2022 release.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Any artistic pursuit inherently comes with struggle, but I have found that any obstacle that has presented itself in my path has only helped me to come out stronger after the fact. This is a difficult industry to say the least, and it can be brutal and unforgiving. It is easy to lose yourself in the pressures of what you think you should be or what you think others might want you to be. There will always be times when you doubt yourself and, likewise, people who will want you to slink back into your shell and hideaway. I have found that, above all, it is imperative that you remain true to yourself and trust in your own instincts. A wonderful professor of mine from Oregon Center for the Arts once told me that it is vital, when navigating the industry, to keep in touch with your mind, body and spirit. There is already enough judgment from others in this world, it is important not to judge yourself. Of course, it is an ongoing process, but every day that you spend less time judging yourself is a victory. In the past, I have held myself back from sharing certain exciting creative pursuits with the world because of self-doubt and fear of criticism. As I have matured in my life, I am learning to let go of that judgment and doubt and accept myself wholly for who I am and the unique spark I can bring to the creative arts.

Another challenge that I have experienced, coming from a family that has been in the artistic industry for decades, is the matter of family legacy. I am so proud to be a part of the Newman family, and they have all been my greatest inspirations. However, this admiration of my family and our legacy has led me to put a certain pressure on myself to uplift and meaningfully continue that same legacy and the path that my grandfather paved all those years ago. For a long time, I wondered where I, as an individual and as my own unique artist, fit into the ongoing history and impact of my family. Eventually, I found that I didn’t need to put that pressure on myself and that my impact would simply come naturally as I moved through my life and career as an artist with my own voice, opinions, and artistry.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I have been very fortunate in my career thus far to have the opportunity to dip my toes into so many different aspects of the arts. I have continued my cello and vocal studies, which has simultaneously allowed for me to keep my feet in the world of music and opened innumerable doors in both theatre and film. Through my work with the Malibu Friends of Music, I have been fortunate enough to tour the country with vocal and spoken word performances and recently performed the role of Kate Shelley in “Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express” during a residency at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.

Even from a very young age, I have always had an interest in and love for comedy. When I arrived at university, I made the whirlwind decision to audition for an elite improv team and was thrilled to be accepted. Throughout my time at Oregon Center for the Arts, I not only performed with the group, honing my improv and comedy skills but spent two incredibly fulfilling years as Team Captain. While Captain, I made it my goal to help each team member grow and feel safe venturing outside of their comfort zones, making mistakes, failing, and going back in for another try. By the end of my time at the OCA, I was so proud to see that each member had grown and developed their improvisational skills tenfold. I am honored to have been a role model to the rest of the team, which continues to thrive today!

One of the many reasons that I love acting is that every role is an opportunity to discover something new about yourself. You are walking in the shoes of another person, which can often help you explore parts of yourself you might otherwise leave untouched. I have been fortunate enough in my career thus far to play a wide range of characters, but my favorite have always been the Character roles. While Ingenue roles hold their own unique form of fun and play, I have always found it so much more satisfying to sink my teeth into the characters written with wild personality and quirks. I’m the kind of person who, when asked what role I would want to play in a show like “Beauty and the Beast,” would immediately say Le Fou, even though people might expect me to say Belle. For me personally, these roles offer the widest range of tools, idiosyncrasies, and fun artistic options to work with. From playing up the comedy to digging deep into the character’s minds and seeing what makes them tick, these roles written with more of an opinion, personality, or range always remind me why I do what I do. One of the things I love most about acting is that there are infinite ways to interpret a character and that my version of a role is bound to be completely different from another actor’s interpretation. Your performance is unique simply because it is yours, and you make your mark on that character by bringing your own qualities to them, in whatever way best serves the role and the production.

It is important to me as an artist to always be creating work that I feel proud of. My mother has been a huge inspiration to me my entire life, from her intrepid musicianship to her dedication to entrepreneurship. A champion of self-sufficiency and artistic autonomy, she has proved time and again to my siblings and me that if you want to do something creative, it is absolutely within your power to simply go out and make it happen. Throughout my life, she has been my champion and has continuously inspired me to create and produce my own work.

We love surprises, fun facts and unexpected stories. Is there something you can share that might surprise us?
Throughout my career, I have found that people have a tendency to call me “cute,” “doe-eyed,” or “innocent,” based on my wide eyes, youthful features, and polite demeanor. While this label is wonderful in certain regards and has certainly worked to my benefit in many facets of my acting career, it belies the fact that, as an actor, I absolutely love being weird. I relish the opportunity to play characters whose personalities and dramatic arcs give me the opportunity to be downright strange. As actors, we are so often limited by our physical appearance, and it might come as a surprise to some people that I am at my most free, my most happy, and having the absolute most fun when I get to play characters who are quirky, odd, and unbothered by the societal constraints of having to look “cute” or act “innocent.” I feel like I can input so much more of my weird personality quirks into these odd characters, and being able to make people laugh brings me such joy!

Contact Info:

  • Email: isabellamthatcher@gmail.com
  • Instagram: isabellathatcher


Image Credits:

Dana Fineman, Kim Budd, Juan Tallo Photography, Matt Dine Photography

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