We had the good fortune of connecting with Isabella Gómez Girón and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Isabella, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk-taking leads to the strengthening of the self and one’s skills. Risk-taking opens doors leading you to opportunities that you might have thought impossible before. Yes it is scary, but many times it’s the only way for me to find out that I am capable of something, or that I do love someone, or a specific discipline, career etc.
Risks have played a big part in my life, and I still strive to continue to be more courageous each day taking bigger and bigger risks confronting my fears: which is no easy task.
Since I was very young I have always pushed myself to live this way. It’s how I found out that I did want to study acting professionally, it’s how I ended up winning a scholarship for a soccer tournament in the U.S, and recently it’s how I ended up leading one of the most important shows in the Carnaval season of the Carnaval de Barranquilla in Colombia.
I was born and raised in Barranquilla, and I loved the arts, sports and also academics. I constantly challenged myself in all these areas to become better, to feel more confident. When I was around 12, as a soccer lover, I wanted to enroll in this summer intensive (8hrs/day) with some coaches from Milan, Italy. When I went to find out more information it happened to be that out of around 60 participants, 3 were girls. We were going to be divided into teams and I would probably be the only girl in one of the teams. I was very nervous, because I knew the competition would be tough, and also at that age I didn’t feel extremely comfortable hanging out with boys. I ended up taking the risk to enroll, and even on the first day I was terrified and regretting it, but I pushed through and worked through my fear. I ended up having a lot of fun, improving my soccer skills, my sense of self and winning a scholarship to play in a tournament in Ohio the following year. One risk led to the next. Now I had to play with girls who had a much more intense training than I, and in a language that was not my first; but once again, I wanted to become better, and not only that, but I wanted to experience life to the fullest. What do I mean by this? To me, risk taking is also about riding the rollercoaster of life with all its ups and downs, it’s about letting myself be surprised by what can come when I am not in my comfort zone, and in this way have more thrilling experiences that make days and years feel unique and intense.
Years later, deciding to get a BFA in acting from NYU, was also a risk. “A career in the arts? But you’re a straight A student, what about medicine? How are you gonna sustain yourself in the future? But there’s too much competition! NYU is super competitive; you haven’t been trained enough.” They would say all these things, and yes, I thought about them too sometimes. But I loved telling stories through acting, dancing, singing that would spread empathy and inspire change and reflection; and I knew that I would never forgive myself if I didn’t at least try. That’s also risk-taking for me: trying something that I want but am afraid of failing in, or of it leading to a negative experience. Sometimes we also fear: wasting our time! But was is time? As long as it is well spent and you learn something by the end; even if that means: I don’t want to do this ever again, you still came out stronger, with a new experience, perspective, and lesson. I feel that after every risk I take I have a stronger emotional and mental shield to go through life.
Risks will always be present in the pursuit of one’s dreams. My desires to achieve my dreams are too strong to let the fear weigh me down; that doesn’t mean that I don’t doubt myself, and have breakdowns, but I get back up.
The most recent risk I took led me to an experience I will never forget. Since I was about 7 years old I dreamed of being the protagonist and leader of a comparsa, specifically the Barranquilla Country Club comparsa. The most well-known club in Barranquilla puts on a type of musical but all told through dance where as the protagonist you get to be a part of all the dances, you lead all the participants in some parades, you help design the story, the costumes, and the music. It is basically your show. I never applied because I felt like my dance skills weren’t strong enough compared to other girls my age, and I feared being bullied if I was ever chosen and did a bad job. So I never applied to be the kids’ protagonist, nor the youth, nor adolescents. But this year when applications opened and I fit the adults category I decided to apply and I got it! Aside from excitement and joy, fear, stress and anxiety also overwhelmed me when I was chosen because you become a type of ambassador for the club and the city. It’s a huge responsibility with lots of eyes on you. Everything from getting people to join me in the show, to writing the script, adding more theatre to the spectacle, the dance training, organizing rehearsal schedules, handling financial tasks, was all a big risk. I performed on March 26th and today I am not only more confident in my dance skills (which improved in the whole process), but I feel stronger as an artist and woman. I learned how to take care of my body in different ways, became even more perseverant, I made new beautiful friends and colleagues, and I proved to myself that I was capable of something I had wanted since I was 7. I showed myself that with passion, discipline, and love many things are possible.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Something that sets me apart is my desire to learn and my level of discipline, determination, and curiosity. In my work as an artist I am always asking questions, seeking new paths, and alternative perspectives. My curiosity for life and the human experience enriches the characters I create and interpret. Moreover, I never stop searching for opportunities to learn and improve my work; my discipline with my craft is extremely high from the warm ups and research, to the performances themselves. Lastly, my determination to do the best that can be done, even on the most banal tasks, or on jobs that I don’t fully enjoy, sets me apart because I end up leaving a positive impression and a pleasant experience.
I am proud of my readjustment process back in Colombia after living 5 years in NYC and leaving all my network there. Discovering the industry in my home country, one which struggles to get funds for the arts, has not been easy, but I am proud that I have found and created opportunities for myself, and also turned my anxiety and self-doubt into more love and confidence through taking more care of my body and mind.
I can’t say it was easy to get to where I am today professionally, but if it was, I don’t think I would be the woman and artist I am today; nor all the gratifying moments would have been as special. Competition is high, there is so much talent, and finding your unique voice is difficult sometimes, and something I work on every day. Just going to class and putting up scenes in front of such distinguished directors and faculty was nerve racking, and after graduating the industry is even tougher and the pool of people aspiring to work is immense. Moreover, as an international artist, I have had challenges with finding opportunities that are open to my accent and my heritage. I continue to go through the challenges of this career daily, and the ones I have overcome have been due to my determination, to reminding myself why I love to do what I do, to taking time for family, for myself, nature, writing, yoga, and everything that helps me be in the present, and keep my faith and desires strong. Also, finding little ways to express my creativity each week keeps my spirits high and ready to keep knocking on new doors.
I continue to learn how important perseverance and finding the fun in the process and journey, without constantly worrying about the destination, is. I have also learned that I can’t constantly search for assurance from others, and need to find it within.
I would want the world to know that I want to diversify what the Latina womxn experience looks like in the media.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take them to Miami Beach, bike around La Española, take them to go see the murals and then for drinks and partying in Wynwood, and have a trip to Disney World which is so easy to go to from Miami.
I would also try to book a boat ride, and watch a concert in the American Airlines Arena.
We would have a varied food experience from latinamerican, to italian, chinese, and american.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My family. Without their love and support I would not be achieving half of the things I do. They have given me all the materials to build my wings so I can fly.
I also have some amazing friends that no matter where they are in the world, they are always present through texts and calls reassuring me and making me feel stronger (Marianna Moron, Hanan Amastha, Catalina Garcia, Raina Silver).
Lately also Rosanna Lignarolo: the artistic director of the comparsa, Maribel Abello, my co-actress and director in the play that led me to perform in a prestigious festival in Bogota, and our producer for the play Carolina Ethel.
Instagram: isabellagomezg – https://www.instagram.com/isabellagomezg/?hl=en
Natalia Ochoa, Joe Loper, Harold Lozada and Jose Rudas.