by Emily Roth
Shouting fills the crammed house. Each person has something to say and needs to be heard. This noisy gathering is a typical family reunion for senior Isabel Nelson.
“Our family are big story-tellers,” Nelson said. “At family reunions, we have to shout because everyone is telling stories all the time. It’s kind of like the artistic world. You have to shout to be heard.”
Nelson knows plenty of the artistic world as a double major in English writing and Theatre acting with an additional minor in dance.
“There are stories in our family where they’ve been told so many times I know them by heart and I feel like they are mine,” Nelson said. “I feel like they happened to me. That’s also where the writing came from. It’s a natural extension.”
Growing up in a creative family easily fostered Nelson’s interest in arts. As a child, she put on plays with her sisters and created imaginary games. Her mom recorded storybooks she and her sisters invented. And she danced ballet starting at 4 years old.
“My family is incredibly creative, so it always seemed normal,” Nelson said. “It wasn’t art to us. It was never art. It was just fun and games.”
Until five years ago, Nelson wouldn’t have described herself as a creative person.
“I didn’t actually start seriously pursuing a career in acting until my junior year of high school,” Nelson said. “That’s when I moved to the States.”
While Nelson’s family now lives in Santa Barbara, Calif., she still considers Leeds, England more like home. She went to school there several years while her father taught philosophy at the University of Leeds. While her school had a theatre program, it emphasized acting as a recreation rather than a career choice.
“My school was a really rough high school, and I think that was another reason I never wanted to do acting in English high school,” Nelson said. “You make yourself stand out and you get beat up. So there’s no real reason to excel in anything except for rugby.”
Nelson views writing as another creative expression both her English and American high schools did not focus on enough.
“We think everyone should know our opinion all the time. Why do you think Twitter exists? I think we assume that people should be interested in our lives anyway but we don’t do enough examining of the way the world around us is shaping us,” Nelson said. “This is a weird time for growing up, so I think writing is more important than ever for explaining it. That’s why I write, so I can explain myself to myself so I can explain myself to others.”
Nelson has not decided where she’ll go in the future but hopes to go into acting after leaving Whitworth. She also wants to earn a Master of Fine Arts before eventually becoming a professor of either theatre or writing.
“Something I’ve been trying to understand recently is where I fit into the world as an artist,” Nelson said. “I think as long as I’m contributing to something bigger than myself, I’m stoked on that.”