Where did you grow up?
I grew up in between two cities. Like my zip code, it says Marietta Georgia. But I really grew up closer to this town called Roswell, Georgia. It’s a suburb, you know. You know just a lot of five four-door houses just like very southern very hospitable people really big family place and I really like top in academics so that’s what my parents wanted. Um, yeah. It was sweet. It was little. A bunch of people, so many so many people, and I went to public school growing up my entire life until my sophomore year when I went to a performing arts magnet high school, and then I started booking films constantly so I started doing homeschooling and I was working all my junior year of high school and then I decided like semester of my senior year I wanted to take a school break and get everything done so I finished about a year and 1/2 worth of work in one semester. So yeah it was stressful but I’m glad I got it done. Education is very important.
What would you consider your first big break?
I had just filmed The Boss with Melissa Mccarthy and I’d done a couple lines here and there, a couple of guest stars but nothing really big. I’m now in a film that went to Sundance called Wilson. I got the call from the director and he was like, ‘Hey we want you be Claire in this movie.’ And I just had this huge overwhelming, feeling of joy and just pure happiness and excitement.
You were in the film Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life. The premise that it’s about kids breaking school rules and finding their own identity. How do you feel about kids having to follow strict rules and where do you think they can draw the line and adventure a bit?
You know I think rules are there for a reason. I am 18 now and if you’d been asking me this question at 13 or 14 in middle school I would probably say I don’t like rules. Rules are bad. I think that there are too many. But I do think a majority of them are really good and I think there’s a good reason to have them for the most times it’s for safety which is very important. And, also to guide minors because Lord knows we haven’t had time experiencing the world to really understand a lot about why these rules are set in place.
The issue of education is a hot topic at the moment since Betsy DeVos has been nominated and now has been confirmed as Secretary of Education. What do you think about what’s going on and the impact that she’ll have?
I try to stay very neutral on who I like and what I feel [politics]and it’s a general rule with my family: we don’t talk about money, religion or politics. But in regards to who they pick, there’s a reason that Donald Trump was elected and whether or not I am a fan of him or not I do believe that we should give some trust and a bit more time to our government as a whole. I’m not the biggest fan of the fact that she’s not that familiar with the public school system. But I can’t really say what’s gonna happen. I can’t predict the future but I hope it’s positive and I hope she goes and spends some time in a public school whether it’s visiting one or whatnot just to see the environment and to get some sort of exposure.
Millennials have been fervently engaged with this year’s election. Bernie Sanders was clearly the favorite for this generation, are you a Bernie fan at all? What do you think he represents for people in your age group?
You know, again, I was very neutral towards this election—there’s no one hundred percent dead answer to me. I know growing up I would hear what everyone in my house had to say and what everyone at school had to say and I would watch the news. Everyone has such a closed-minded view of what’s going on. Because you only hear what you want to hear and what the people around you are saying. Because you surround yourself with the people you want to be around. So I don’t think Bernie Sanders was a bad option, I really don’t. I think he had a good stance on a lot of things. You’re not goning to one hundred percent agree with everything someone’s saying unless you’re extremely left or extremely right.
The Womens March was widely visible, there were three times as many people that showed up in D.C. than in the Presidential Inauguration. Did you participate in the March? What do you think will be the impact of the women’s march for the future?
I did not. But Laura Dern plays my mom in Wilson and she was a very strong advocate and especially throughout other interviews. She was one person that severely stood out so I’ve been paying a lot of attention. [During the March] I was on the plane on the way there. I would’ve been able to be a part of it but my plane was delayed two hours. I was in Atlanta. We had a thunderstorm so I couldn’t but I would’ve definitely been a part of it. I was having a conversation today when we were shooting and I think that abortion and women’s rights are not anyone’s decision except for the woman herself. You know I think that it’s very crucial that a woman makes her own decision whether it be abortion or anything else. I don’t think it should be up to one person or a group of people to make a decision for us as a whole.
I don’t think you’re alone in that sentiment.
I know I’m not. I think everyone should be a feminist but I know there’s a huge range in degree of being a ‘feminist’ and ‘feminism’ and how far you take it, but I personally don’t think that anyone should be making decisions that are so personal like that [abortion] for anyone except for themselves. It’s [the March] definitely going to be in history books. This time period over the past three or for the next five, six years, it’s going to be an interesting one. I fully support equal rights to all races and equal rights for all sexes. But at the same time, why are we having to do this again? Why are we forced to take a stand for blacks to be included with whites? Why are we having to take a stand for women to be included in equal pay? Why are we having to actually do all of this? And why don’t we sit down and we all look at what the actual cause of why everything is happening and we try to approach it in a more thoughtout pattern. Maybe it could be more successful. It’s the point history that we don’t repeat ourselves and that we learn from our mistakes from the past. And, it just seems like that we’re repeating the 1960’s over and over. I think we should be moving forward.
There are a few dark themes with Woody Harrelson’s character, Wilson. At the beginning of the movie, they set up the premise that he’s unhappy with the state of his life, but it seems that he found a new meeting when he found out about your character as his daughter. What sort of takeaway did you have from this story, in terms of how people should approach life? How did this story have an impact on you?
Well I think this story is beautiful in the sense that it shows imperfections in a perfect way. And it shows everyone that you can have your flaws and you can be different. And to really accept that and as long as you are okay with the way that you are, everything’s gonna be okay everything’s gonna be fine. The film also shows that you should love everyone and you should treat everyone with open arms and love and respect. Even if you are a bit off and you are a bit odd. The impact that it had on me was that I had been severely bullied [once while attending a performing arts school]. I had never been bullied in my life and had always made friends really easy. But I realized it was a jealousy thing and no one was nice to me because I did work outside of school. Because I did acting outside of a performance program. So that was really hard on me and in this movie I am bullied and I did have to go through being able to to accept my flaws and that’s what this movie forced me to do as a person. It really helped me keep my perspective open on how I wanted to be and what I didn’t want to be.
Your recent feature films have been mostly comedy, is that something you’d like to pursue further? What kind of roles do you see for yourself in the future?
With my career I see it going wherever it wants to go. I want to do everything; I want to be able to do drama and do comedy, just everything I can because I really enjoy acting. I want to be able to do whatever speaks to me, whether it is a girl that is rock-bottom cocaine addict or whether it’s some awkward high schooler. I want to be able to do whatever really moves me as an actor because I don’t want to be classified as just one thing.
You have an extensive background in singing. Are you currently pursuing musical roles? Is there a future career in music?
I would love to. Honestly just for the fun of it I would absolutely love to do a musical. Like La La Land was phenomenal, the cinematography, the script, the idea, everything. I love singing and I’ve grown up in a music family my entire life and now my dad is a huge influence and my mom, she used to sing in high school. I’ve been growing up on stage my entire life so for me music is a big part of me and who I am so yeah I’d be totally open and I would totally love to do that.
What sort of impact do you want to make with your career?
I’ve been saying this for a long time in my life, but whatever comes in my career comes in my career. You know, getting to a level of extreme fame, it must have its ups and downs and that would be great in some sense and in others, not so great. I just want to get to a point to where I am remembered and that I was able to impact somebody positively. Positively. Definitely. But whether it was emotionally impact them in a movie and make them feel hurt and make them just really feel their emotions that they’re like guarding off and not allowing themselves to feel anyway or I want to make someone feel like it’s okay to be themselves or just make someone happy I want to take those two hours in a movie and I want that person to be able to escape and be able to get away from their life and just really be in the moment and to have something to enjoy.
Do you have and personal or social causes that you’re passionate about?
I’m really for anti-bullying. I was in an anti-bullying club pretty much throughout high school. I remember learning about this group called Rachel’s Challenge when I was in middle school and how she was anti-bullying. Before I’d ever been bullied I remember that my sister had been through a lot of bullying in high school. And that really struck me as a person.
[clothing Isabella’s own]
photography by Alison Dyer
grooming Allison Burns