Meet Isabel May, who plays the stubborn daughter of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill

The new Paramount + drama 1883 can present a married couple Tim mcgraw and Hill of Faith in their very first joint venture as James and Margaret Dutton, but the real break with the Yellowstone prequel is Isabel May, the 21-year-old actress who plays the couple’s stubborn daughter, Elsa. Since May doesn’t quite have the same resume as her on-screen parents, EW asked the ingenuous to explain how she ended up riding a horse in Taylor Sheridan’s western neighborhood.


Emerson Miller / Paramount +

May didn’t really audition for the role of Elsa Dutton.

The young actress first met Sheridan while trying Mayor of Kingstown, his other drama for Paramount +. She didn’t get the job, but Sheridan certainly hasn’t forgotten her. “Two weeks later he called and said, ‘I want you to be Elsa. We are going to watch this story unfold through his eyes and his point of view. I did not write anything and you will receive the scripts as you go. ‘This is exactly what happened. It was a bit wild and surreal, but I didn’t think about it too much. I don’t trust anything until I see the result. Eight months later and we’re almost done. It’s just crazy. “

Tim and Faith … who?

No, May didn’t know McGraw and Hill were country superstars until she started filming the series in Texas. “I’ve never listened to any of their songs so I had zero expectations which I’m really happy with because they’re like mum and dad on set. They are amazing people. They aren’t. , you know, music stars, which was really cool. “

This is her first regular role in a drama series.

May’s biggest role to date has been co-starring in the Netflix High School Comedy Alexa and Katie for three seasons. Prior to that, she booked small roles in Young Sheldon and the 2019 film Let’s scare Julie. “I’m as unknown as you can tell,” she jokes.

Born and raised in Southern California, May has never ridden in her life.

Although there are plenty of stables in the Los Angeles area where she grew up, May has never visited any of them. And don’t confuse her with the quintessential Californian girl, either: She didn’t surf or skateboard as a child in Santa Monica, preferring to read books when she wasn’t going to a local French school. (Her high school years were spent in an online school so she could continue playing full time). “If I’m frank enough, I think the Pacific Ocean is a bit disgusting,” she told EW. “I have a vendetta against that, so that’s what really kept me from coming in. That, and I also saw Jaws when I was 7 and since I was terrified of sharks. “Once Sheridan hired her to play Elsa – who is supposed to be her father’s daughter, who is an excellent rider – May immediately booked classes with the wife of the drama’s stunt coordinator. “I’m one of those types of people who don’t really intimidate me when it comes to picking up something. I was lucky to have recovered it very quickly. For some reason, it felt organic and natural. And just by watching the fighters that we have, you pick up little things and then you can pretend you actually know what you’re doing. “

isabelle may

isabelle may

Mindy Small / FilmMagic

Her pioneering training also included accent classes and a bit of dirt on her face.

Since the Duttons are from Tennessee, May worked with dialect trainer Jessica Drake (The walking dead) to perfect his twang. “I really wanted to have the right accent. I tried to figure out how to look like Tim and Faith to a certain extent, but also sound like I’m from Tennessee and as a young girl in 1883. Our version of the Tennessee accent today is not what it would be then. So it’s just a sort of amalgamation of things. And while her good looks are supposed to stop fighters in their tracks, the production hasn’t done everything possible to delight May. “I don’t wear makeup. I wear dirt and sweat. They constantly spray water on our faces. They weren’t focused on trying to make us look good, but they weren’t focused on trying to make us look bad either. I’m just trying to look my age, like a real person. And if I have a pimple on my face, then the pimple will appear. “

Filming for 1883 is as gritty (and hot) as it looks on screen.

“I call it a free sauna. There was sweat running down parts of my body, I didn’t know where the sweat could collect. Sure, it’s a bit difficult, but it’s also the goal. Every once in a while you feel a little weak and you think to yourself, “I think I need electrolytes.” You are a little miserable, but I secretly loved it. really enjoyed everything. I think I could get used to this life of 1883, other than, you know, the freezing and sweltering temperatures. “

1883 now streaming on Paramount +.

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