After three years at Free Street, Isis Mendoza is a pro at leading warm ups, preparing for a show, and going on stage with confidence. But it wasn’t always this way. “I used to be really shy, ” she says, “and then Free Street helped me find a part of myself I didn’t know existed.”
Isis found Free Street after her brother Abe, a former ensemble member, died suddenly. At the wake, she ran into Gio Gonzalez, who told her about the company and invited her to stop by a rehearsal. She did, but didn’t immediately feel like she fit in. “I was nervous. I was surrounded by people who were pretty loud, and pretty confident in themselves. It was overwhelming at first.” Still, she decided to keep coming. “Something in me pushed me to keep going. And now, I’m one of them, those confident people I saw the first time I came.”
“Isis is very much a leader,” says Free Street artist L’Oreal Jackson. But equally important, she says, is that “she’s intuitive. And always makes space for everybody in the room.” For Isis, this only makes sense. “Free Street has a safe feel to it,” she notes. “Many people say when they’re sad, they go to their happy place in their mind, but for me that’s Free Street. It’s a place where I can go and not be judged, where I’m in control of myself.”
Audiences can catch Isis in Free Street’s next show: Nerds, Sluts, Commies, and Jocks, opening the last weekend in April. And in the meantime, she’ll be going to class at Roosevelt High School and working on his Plan B: a cupcake shop.