Isabella Pappas

Isabella Pappas is playing lead character Amy/Havoc in the Disney comedy series Villains of Valley View, which started airing earlier this year on Disney Channel in the US and Disney+ in the UK. New episodes of the series are currently releasing weekly since October 2nd, and it has recently been announced that Villains of Valley View has been renewed for a second series. Last year, Isabella made her lead role debut on screen when she played Charlotte in Finding Alice for ITV, alongside her on-screen mother Keeley Hawes and Joanna Lumley as her grandmother, and she will be appearing in the upcoming film Beach Boys with filming yet to take place. Also a stage actor, Isabella most recently played Cassidy in Appropriate at Donmar Warehouse in 2019, which saw her be nominated at the 2020 WhatsOnStage Awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Play. Previous stage roles for Isabella have included Skylar in Bring It On at the Southwark Playhouse and Iris in The Nether, which marked her stage and West End debut and led to her being nominated at the Olivier Awards for Best Supporting Actress. We chatted to Isabella about playing lead character Amy/Havoc in Villains of Valley View on Disney, filming as Charlotte in Finding Alice and her time at Donmar Warehouse in Appropriate.

You play lead character Amy/Havoc in the new Disney series Villains of Valley View, what is she like to play and can you tell us about her and the show?

Villains of Valley View is about a family of supervillains hiding out in a suburban town in Texas because my character Amy/Havoc stands up to the head of the league of villains. Amy is an incredibly fun character to play and in some ways we are opposites but in others we are more similar than I thought. She’s always putting her family first and is fiercely protective over them which I can relate to.

What is it like seeing the viewers’ response to Villains of Valley View and who do you think the series will appeal to?

The response, especially in America, has been amazing. We had ten episodes originally out there with more released starting October 2nd. We were one of the top new shows on Disney+ which was very exciting. Disney is really pushing the boundaries with our show to appeal to families as a sitcom, not just a children’s show.

How is it working on set of a Disney show and do you have any stand-out highlights from being in the cast so far?

Everyone involved with our production is so kind and supportive it makes filming days really fun. We have lots of fun on set and the cast and crew are like one big family. Our writers/producers Chris Peterson and Brian Moore are always there for me especially since I am so far from home when filming in Los Angeles.

It’s been announced Disney have renewed the series, what are you looking forward to most for returning to set and continuing your character’s journey?

I’m so happy we get to return and further explore our characters’ lives! It’s so fun to play a character Amy’s age because that’s when people grow the most. I know some of the most transformative years of my life were from 16 to 18 and that’s the age I’m getting to take Amy through on the show! I can’t wait to see her in new situations and how she grows. I really miss my cast and crew and can’t wait to get back to our usual antics on set!

In the 2021 TV series Finding Alice, you play Charlotte, do you remember how you felt finding out you’d booked the role and how was it working with the rest of the cast, which includes Keeley Hawes as your on-screen mother?

Finding out that I was cast in Finding Alice was a dream come true since this was my first lead role on screen. Getting to work with Joanna Lumley had always been a dream of mine so finding out I got to have her as my grandma was “absolutely fabulous”. I also learned so many things from Keeley Hawes and our amazing director Roger Goldby, who was such an amazing person to work with.

In 2019, you played Cassidy in Appropriate at the Donmar Warehouse, how was your time in the show?

Playing Cassidy in the play Appropriate at the Donmar was honestly one of my favourite acting experiences ever. We did weeks of research and learned so much about American history and mental health. Ola Ince was our director and I learned so much from her – she is a force and an amazing person and creative. I would love to work with her again.

What was it like seeing your portrayal of Cassidy be nominated at the 2020 WhatsOnStage Awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Play?

It was shocking to be nominated for Best Supporting Actress! I had been so focused on being authentic in my portrayal of Cassidy and researching her history that I hadn’t even considered awards at all which made it even more special.

What do you remember most from playing Skylar in Bring It On at the Southwark Playhouse?

Playing Skylar in Bring It On was such a fun experience and one of my first times doing comedy. I think it taught me a lot about timing and letting my inner confidence out – which helped me a lot with my portrayal of Amy in Villains. Lin-Manuel Miranda also came to see our final show, which was surreal as I love him and his work!

You made your stage and West End debut with the play The Nether as Iris, which saw you be nominated at the 2015 Olivier Awards, what was it like to be part of?

Playing Iris in The Nether was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life – getting to create a character and embody them at both the Royal Court and the Duke of York’s Theatre was such a gift at such a young age. I worked with such incredible people on that show – Headlong and Sonia Friedman. Jeremy Herrin was a remarkable director – I feel very lucky that this was my professional debut. The subject matter was very dark and everything with the show was handled with such care to always make sure I felt safe. I remember the night I was performing and the Olivier panel came and watched the show and I was so nervous – so finding out I was nominated for Best Supporting Actress was just insane! (Fun fact: I found out I was nominated for the Olivier Award and cast as Annie in the Annie UK Tour on the same day)

Where does your love of acting come from and what encouraged you to train with Sylvia Young and ArtsEd?

My love of acting comes from my love of storytelling. My Italian Nonna and mom would always read me stories before bed when I was growing up in Italy and I remember acting them out for my family at dinner time the next night! I went to Sylvia Young Theatre School for an Easter course and was offered a place in the full-time school – it all happened so fast that I look back now so grateful to the teachers and Sylvia for taking such good care of me and teaching me so much. I studied English Literature and Drama at ArtsEd and was a member of the Theatre Company – which was an amazing experience which really sparked my interest in writing. I’m now working on my first screenplay!

How do you like to spend your time away from your career and what are some of your favourite films, TV and theatre shows to watch?

In my free time, I love to write and knit to relax. I normally go to the gym at least once every day to keep my mind calm and to keep strong for stunts! I love being with my pug Flora – we go for long walks. My ultimate favourite TV show is Euphoria – that’s the dream show to be on!

It’s been announced you’ll be in the cast of Beach Boys, what are you looking forward to for being involved with the project and what are you hoping the upcoming year brings for your career?

I fell in love with Beach Boys the moment I read the script – I knew I wanted so badly to be a part of this production. I actually found out in the makeup chair for Villains that I had gotten the part! I’m so excited to film it as I know this role will really push myself to the limits acting-wise!

I hope this year brings challenges, fun and lots of snow for Christmas.

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