Everything You Need to Know About Isabela Merced From Netflix's Sweet Girl
You might remember Isabela Moner from Nickelodeon's 100 Things to Do Before High School or 2019's cute Christmas Netflix hit Let It Snow. Now, the Peruvian American actor goes by Isabela Merced, a name change that represents a new chapter in her life and her career and that also honors her late abuela. "Isabela Merced represents the values that were passed on from my grandmother. She was a force of nature, unafraid of anything, always ready to take on every challenge and person that said she couldn't," she told Refinery29 in 2019.
Before she starts filming the Latinx remake of Father of the Bride — yes, it's happening, with Andy Garcia playing the dad and no other than Gloria Estefan in the role of the mom — catch her this weekend in Netflix's just-released action-drama Sweet Girl, costarring Jason Momoa.
Keep scrolling to learn everything you need to know from this bilingual triple threat, from debuting on Broadway while costarring Ricky Martin to her obsession with her sweet three-legged dog and her love for Selena!
Sweet Girl No More
This is not the first action-packed movie for Merced, who also starred in Transformers: The Last Knight and Sicario: Day of the Soldado. But you'll be rooting for her character as Jason Momoa's heartbroken daughter who is more than ready for revenge. And you'll see her boxing!
She Was Dora the Explorer!
For her role as the iconic bilingual cartoon, Merced even learned a little Quechua, the language spoken by the Quechua, Indigenous peoples that descend from the Incas and live in the Andean regions of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. And she was determined to get it right. "Between scenes, I'd call my great aunt in Peru to ask her about certain phrases and how to say them in Quechua," she told Forbes.
She's a Dog Mama
Merced has three dogs. The last one she introduced to her family is a three-legged dog she fostered and then adopted, and we can tell she is obsessed. "This is Pluto! The newest member of my family," she wrote in an Instagram post in 2018. "He is the goodest of boys. I fostered to adopt him from the @awlqld . He's got 3 legs, but he doesn't let that define him cuz he's got a good soul ya know. My page will now be bombarded by photos of this handsome boi. Gotta say I'm looking forward to being a single mom with a full time job."
She's a Singer, Too
She released her first album, Stopping Time, in 2015, though it wasn't until she stepped into reggaeton that she got major recognition. Check out "Don't Go," her 2020 collab with Danna Paola, a Mexican pop star and actor who you might have seen in Elite on Netflix. The song was was a big hit last year, with nine million views on YouTube!
She Is a Selena Fan, Too!
Born and raised in Cleveland way before Selena became a superstar, Merced shared that the Texana singer has always been a part of her life and a major inspiration. "I remember hearing her during holiday parties when my family would teach me how to dance Cumbia or Salsa," she wrote in an Instagram post in 2018. "Someone whose heart shines through her music and makes me smile. An inspiration who loved her culture and family through and through."
From Peru, With Love
Before and beyond her role as Dora, Merced has always been very much in touch with her Peruvian roots. And Peruvian food! On Instagram, she admits that it gets harder to leave every time she goes back there to visit family. From her abuelo's hugs to that mouthwatering multicolor ceviche, we get it.
Celebrating Her Mom Every Day
Merced is a family girl through and through. In interviews and on social media, she constantly mentions her family in the US and Peru. In the past year, she's opened up about her mother's battle with breast cancer.
"I don't know why these things happen. So much love has come from this that there's no way it could be anything other than a blessing," she wrote on Instagram. "We'll get through this together. Go out and celebrate the fact that you have another day with your loved ones."
She's a Broadway Star!
Not many actors and singers can say they got their start at age 10 on Broadway singing with Ricky Martin in the 2012 Evita remake. Although she did her first play at 6 years old, this was her big break, and she got the role after just one audition. "I didn't think Broadway was for me. I didn't think I was talented," she told Spanish press back then.