Actress Isabel Oliver Marcus talks meeting the cast of This Is Us and how she got cast


Culturess talked to Isabel Oliver Marcus, a teen actress on the rise. She’s taken her career to new heights after recently appearing on NBC’s This Is Us.

When Isabel Oliver Marcus got a role as the Queen of Hearts in her first play, Alice in Wonderland, it immediately clicked that being an actress is what she wanted to do.

After a few short years of auditioning as a professional actress, she landed her biggest role yet: Allison, the girlfriend of young Randall (played as an adult by Sterling K. Brown) in the hit NBC show This Is Us. Culturess spoke to the high school senior to see what it was like to get such a great role and what she has planned for the future.

So, how did you go from performing in your schools’ theater shows to landing a role on This Is Us?

I’ll give you the short version: Basically, I auditioned for some agents. I would come out to California — I was coming out back and forth between Los Angeles and Texas for three years before high school. When it was finally a viable move for me and my mom, we moved out to L.A. Then I actually went back to Texas to visit my family. So [I was] living in L.A., but my baby brother had just been born. So I visited him, and I got the audition while I was in Texas.


Yeah, I know. [They] magically let me send in a tape, a video audition. And then they pinned me the next day. I flew out, and I did a chemistry read, then I booked the job. I got on the set, and it was like within a week, I had gone from being in Texas — and really only short films and student films on my resume — to, “Oh my God, This is Us!”

Isabel Oliver Marcus as Allison on This Is Us appearing in the scene where she consoles Randall. Photo courtesy of October Coast.

How did you feel stepping onto the set that first day?

Nervous. And excited. And like, all the things you would assume one would feel. My first episode was kind of a downer because the kids had just found out that their dad had died. It’s a very emotional time.

But everyone was so welcoming. And what really struck me was how professional everyone was. I have loved basically every set I’ve ever worked on. But all of them are working to make the best product possible and to do the best job possible. It was such a good energy to be around.

Isabel Oliver Marcus as Allison on This Is Us appearing in scene where she first meets Randall. Photo courtesy of October Coast.

Did you ever get to meet the major cast like Sterling K. Brown or Chrissy Metz?

On my first day, I walk into the make up trailer and there’s Chris Sullivan, who plays Toby, Kate’s husband. And I was like, “Oh, I know who you are! I’ve seen episodes of the show; I know what’s going on!” He was just so welcoming.

And then at the end of the trailer is Many freaking Moore. And she introduced herself to me before she left. She was like, “Hey, I’m Mandy.” And I was like “Yeah, uh huh. Me too! I mean, no! I’m Isabel!”

And then, I’m coming out of the makeup trailer and there’s Sterling K. Brown and Susan Kelechi Watson driving away on a golf cart. And Sterling goes, “Hey, are you my new girlfriend?”
And I was like “Yeah, that’s me!” And he was like, “Awesome!” Susan was like, “Oh, I’m jealous.” I’m like, “Hey, I was the OG!”

One time, a couple of episodes in… my mom and I were leaving the set and we almost crashed into Justin Hartley with our car. So I never met him, but I almost had a car accident [with him.]

The crazy thing is, Chrissy Metz is the one I haven’t met or had any interaction with. But my mom’s cousin knows her. So I’ve been aware of her even before she got the role.

That’s cool! So, This Is Us is a completely emotional show. What’s one scene – and I know there are tons of them – that really made you cry?

Well, I tell people: the William episode where William and Randall go on their road trip and stuff. Those kind of killed me a little bit. I was basically sobbing for, like, 2 hours one day because I just watched the episodes back to back.

Besides This Is Us, what are some of your favorite TV shows that you’re into right now?

Okay, real talk. If we’re gonna go nerdy, my favorite show for, like, basically my entire life has been Doctor Who because my dad introduced it to me when the newest set came out. And I’ve been in love with it ever since.

My mom and I binged watched the Mary Tyler Moore Show. We watched all of Friends a couple of years back. And all of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager, which I kind of actually prefer than Next Generation. Even though, no lie, Next Generation is better. And then, obviously, we watched the original series.

And what about movies?

Oh, my mom and I just got this thing called Movie Pass, so we’ve seen a lot of movies. I’ve seen Red Sparrow; I saw Gringo; I saw I, Tonya. I’m just trying to gobble up all the movies that I possibly can. My top three favorite movies are, number 1, Princess Bride, number 2, Rear Window — the Hitchcock — and number 3 is Clueless.

Now that you have some experience as an actress, what advice would you give to anyone who’s considering being an actor?

Just start doing it. I don’t believe there’s a “too late.” I believe that if you stick with anything long enough, and you really work at it, it’ll come together.  I’ve heard a lot of people say, “Well, if I don’t make it in three years,” or “ I believe I can make it,” and this phrase “make it” — I don’t totally understand it. Because I think people need to redefine what they think “make it” means.

I think people need to not box themselves in and not get stuck on one idea of success. Just open up your definitions a little bit and see what comes after that.

That’s great advice!

Oh, and get yourself a dog ‘cause they’re like a perpetual support system!

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Isabel says she’ll take a gap year after she graduates high school to focus on acting before going to college. She’s auditioned for a few more projects that she hopes she’ll land a role on soon. Based on her current project, we’re pretty sure we’ll be seeing much more of Isabel on screen.