When casting the role of Caleb for the short film Julia, the casting director knew they needed someone who could convey confidence and charm easily. They needed someone believable in a role that could balance a character as complex as Julia. The search for Caleb was a long one, but no one seemed to fit the role.
Then entered Joel Isaac.
Can you tell me a little about your background? Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Carolina, Puerto Rico. I was born and raised there. I grew up with music and acting, and I’ve been in school plays since I was five years old. At 9, I went to a music school where I took saxophone, dance and piano classes. I went to a performing arts school in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and there I trained in TV, film, radio. After that, I went to college and I studied film and theater production. I always loved studying music.
Was your family always supportive of you and your love of the arts?
Oh yes! My dad is a guitar player and the one who recognized that I had singing ability and he taught me how to sing. My mom also sings, my brother is a musician who plays the bass, drums and guitar. I’m the only actor in the family, but there is a lot of music in the family.
What are some of your most memorable moments in the younger days of your career?
When I was in high school, I did this tour that was sponsored by Sprint. I was the lead singer of a cover band and we toured in Puerto Rico for a few months around different colleges.
I also went to Orlando when I was in college and did a photography internship with Disney.
When did you first become interested in acting?
I went back to Puerto Rico and started acting. I didn’t mean to pursue acting, but there was a big play with the top actors there was happening and I got a call to be part of it, and that’s pretty much how I decided that I was going to pursue acting full-time. I continued training in college. I knew I wanted to come to New York and train there. I just didn’t know when or where I would go to school.
How did you finally make the decision to move?
I remember when I was still in college there was this Q&A with Benicio del Toro and Oliver Stone and someone in the crowd asked Benicio del Torro about his training and he mentioned Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theater. I immediately wrote it down on my phone and that was actually where I went to train when I moved to New York in January 2015. I literally moved and the next day I was at Stella Adler in my classes. I’ve been in New York for five years now and I really like it. The first time I visited, I felt like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone! I was amazed by all of the buildings.
What projects have you worked on since moving to New York that you found most challenging and rewarding?
I did a play last summer. It was Shakespeare and my first time doing one of his plays, and my first time acting in Spanish. I was the lead in that play. It was a Midsummer’s Night Dream. It was for a festival and we were the only Spanish-speaking company. That was really cool and challenging because there were a lot of lines and I was playing two characters. Transforming into two characters and finding their differences and playing them differently was super challenging, but so rewarding.
What are you working on right now? Any exciting projects?
I’m working on a web series called F*CK (Friends Can’t Kiss). I play Henry. We shot the first episode in January and the rest are in pre-production.
What are your aspirations and dreams for the future?
I see myself either doing a tv series or doing a couple of great movies that get my name out there. I probably would also like to direct films. But mostly, I see myself working on projects that prove my acting capabilities on a bigger platform.
What would you tell younger actors that are just starting out?
I would tell them to not entertain fear or self-doubt. There are people who are going to tell you that its going to be difficult. Anything that is great is not going to be easy, so you have to walk your path knowing that its not going to be easy. It’s going to happen over time. Consistency and discipline is super important. Take advantage of every single opportunity because there’s learning and growing from every little job that you think may be just nothing. I started working as an extra and I loved it because I learned the set language and how everything operates. Be confident in your talent, but train. Doesn’t matter how talented you are, you must look at yourself like an athlete and train and work those acting muscles.
To learn more about Joel check him out on Instagram