FOCUS | ISABEL MAY
From left: Faith Hill, Isabel May, and Tim McGraw at the world premiere of 1883 in Las Vegas in December 2021; Elsa near the end of the long journey west; May on the red carpet
[ 1883 creator] Taylor Sheridan has said that he wrote the role for you after you impressed him in your audition for The Mayor of Kingstown . IM: I mean, it’s rather strange to think about that, let alone say it aloud. But yeah, I guess he did.
Did he ever say why you inspired him? IM: He told me, “When I watched you, I saw hope.” That’s what this story in 1883 needed because it’s so bleak. We’re seeing this story through this girl’s eyes, and she needed to be full of optimism and spirit. That made me happy because I’d rather seem like a hopeful person than a cynical one. Was he right? Are you a hopeful person? IM: Oh, very. Very . I can feel like a cynic, sure, but it’s easy to be cynical. I prefer to be an optimist. It’s a lot harder to be an optimist, and I like to take the harder route. How important is that trait when you’re a young actress and constantly trying out for that next part? IM: Sometimes you just have to walk with faith and not sight, you know? Someone said that to me recently. I’m not necessarily a religious person, but I just found that to be a nice way to think, and I trust in that. Something will happen as long as I stay focused and work hard. You have to be hopeful, but so much is out of your hands.
What kind of relationship did you build with Tim and Faith on location? IM: It’s almost like they became my mom and dad. I looked up to them quite a bit because they worked really, really hard and had a smile on their faces the whole time. No matter what, they expressed gratitude and respect. And when they were on the set, they weren’t husband and wife—just co-workers who were in this with everybody else. They also have three wicked smart and talented daughters around my age, and I look up to each one of them. They’ve both been successful in several fields for decades. Did they offer you any advice? IM: They did, but not about acting. Faith is a businesswoman, and she handles herself very well and is extremely eloquent.
MAY/JUNE • 2022
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