IN THE VERY FIRST SCENE OF THE VERY FIRST EPISODE OF 1883 , you watch Isabel May’s character, Elsa Dutton, get shot by an arrow. For the rest of the harrowing Paramount+ Western that serves as a prequel for the smash drama Yellowstone , you sit in suspense, waiting to learn her fate. While you know things probably aren’t going to turn out so well for Elsa, the wily and wild teen daughter of James and Margaret (Tim McGraw and Faith Hill) who narrates the journey of a wagon caravan traveling westward in search of land and freedom, May is so compelling in the role that you convince yourself that frontier medicine just might be much better than you remember from Little House on the Prairie . This girl has to make it. Before hitting the plains, the 21-year-old Santa Monica, California, native made her debut in Alexa & Katie , the tween favorite 2018–20 Netflix sitcom in which two BFFs band together after one of them receives a cancer diagnosis. (May’s character shaves her head in support.) She also popped up in two seasons of Young Sheldon as the girlfriend of the kid genius’s older brother, Georgie. Befitting her 1883 character, May exudes an old soul, no-B.S. vibe. She says she enjoys bouncing between the East and West Coasts and doesn’t know where she lives right now because “I’m 21, and it’s fun to be nomadic with no ties, even though
it’ll get old shortly, I assume.” Asked about her weekend plans on this late Friday afternoon, she replies, “I’m doing stuff with my family. I’m not cool enough to have a cool response, but maybe one day.” Until then, she talks 1883 and beyond.
1883 streams on Paramount+
MAY/JUNE • 2022
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