This article originally appeared in the Spring 2024 Life Without Limits issue of Showstopper Magazine.

Ana Ochoa

Growing up in the vibrant theater community of California’s San Francisco Bay Area, Isabella Esler was introduced to the arts at a young age. At just 6, her parents put her in a theater production, and it was there she discovered the passion that led to her playing Lydia Deetz in Broadway’s Beetlejuice.

Being exposed to the arts so young, Isabella has developed a profound appreciation for all that goes into making a show. “I was really able to learn about community and working with others at a young age,” she shared. “That’s a very important part of the arts, in my opinion, being able to collaborate. I think doing it for so long really made me appreciate the entire process.” It’s this love of the process and appreciation for collaboration that made her shine in her Broadway role.

Finding Acceptance

Landing the role of Lydia was a full-circle moment for Isabella, a culmination of her admiration for the musical and a chance to contribute to a story she’s “loved for so long.” But the path from local theater productions to securing a leading role in a national tour wasn’t without its challenges. Isabella acknowledges the common struggle actors face—the temptation to be overly self-critical. “I think it’s easy to be hard on yourself,” she shared. “It’s really easy to get discouraged when something doesn’t go the way you hope it does, whether that’s not being able to hit a note right away or not being able to get a scene right away. But I have definitely learned over time that we’re all just learning and getting better.”

Connecting and Collaborating

Portraying Lydia has been a unique journey for Isabella, rooted in collaboration and shared experiences. At 16, she discovered the show and felt a connection with Lydia, finding echoes of her own teenage experiences in the character’s story. So when she got the role, she knew she could put that energy into the show. “I can bring myself into her character because I honestly don’t feel that different from her,” Isabella shared. She also drew upon her scene partners for emotional cues and inspiration. “I think I take a lot of my emotions from a reflection of my scene partners,” Isabella explained. “I [take] in my surroundings and what other people are saying, and I’m able to react in a more authentic way.”

The role wasn’t without its challenges, though, and the tone shifts throughout were something Isabella had to get used to. “It’s definitely something that takes time to feel ‘natural’ for me,” she said, “especially when the show can go from chaotic and goofy to being a little more somber.” She embraced it wholeheartedly though, and just as the tone fluctuates throughout the show, Isabella’s favorite scene changes every week. At the time of our interview, she said, “I think my favorite right now is in ‘Say My Name’ where Beetlejuice is trying to convince Lydia to say his name three times,” she told us. “The entire time Lydia is just teasing and tricking Beetlejuice, and it is really fun to play around in this scene.”

Photography: Ana Ochoa, Design: Holly Childs


On top of tackling the nuances of the role itself, adjusting to the demanding schedule of eight shows a week in a different city every week with a different attitude, temperature, etc. will always affect your voice and energy,” she shared. “It took some time to learn how to adjust to the unique characteristics of each city.”

What helped her the most during the tour was listening to the valuable advice she received from others while on tour. “Listen to your body,” she said. “I heard this so many times until I actually started to do it. It’s really easy to push yourself when you know your body is not up for it which can lead to burnout. Once I started to take more time to listen when my body and mind needed a break, I think it got a little easier for me.”

Changing Her Path

A role on Broadway was life-changing for Isabella, but it actually wasn’t part of her “plan” (until she got the part, that is!). “I was sure I was going to college,” she shared. While she didn’t follow the typical trajectory of a college-bound teenager, Isabella believes there is no “wrong” path, especially when it comes to the arts. “Everyone that I have met have all had different experiences on how they get into the industry,” she revealed. Hers just happened to be in the form of a Broadway role! While she believes college can be the best path for some, Isabella said she “wouldn’t change [her decision] for anything.”

After having her plans shift so quickly, Isabella has embraced the unknown when it comes to her career. She believes the right step “depends on each person and what they want.” She attributes her success so far to keeping an open mind. “Don’t stress too much about one path and be open to anything!”

We can’t help but be inspired by Isabella’s flexibility to what life throws her way, and we can’t wait to see what she does next. While you can no longer catch one of her shows live, you can always check ou the highlights on YouTube. Just type in Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejui…

On Her Dream Role of Eurydice in Hadestown

On How Her Fashion Sense Reflected How She Lives Her Life

On How She Adjusted During a Difficult Time

Previous articleWhich of Taylor Swift’s “The Tortured Poets Department” Files are You?
Next article3 Ways to Have Your Best Summer Yet
Holly is the Editor-in-Chief of Showstopper Magazine! A designer, writer, and photographer, keeping up with Holly is easier said than done as she regularly travels to new places. As the mastermind behind the magazine, Holly has a knack for finding great stories and getting them on the page. She and her furry assistant Cornelius are always up to something fabulous! You can follow Holly's travels and breathtaking experiences (and even magazine updates) on Instagram (@hollyachilds)!