Isabela Merced
Merced in 2022
Born
Isabela Yolanda Moner

(2001-07-10) July 10, 2001 (age 22)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Citizenship
  • American
  • Peruvian[1]
Occupations
  • Actress
  • singer
Years active2013–present
Musical career
GenresPop
Instrument(s)Vocals
Labels

Isabela Yolanda Moner[3][4] (born July 10, 2001[5]), known professionally as Isabela Merced since 2019, is an American actress and singer. She played the lead role of CJ Martin on the Nickelodeon television series 100 Things to Do Before High School (2014–2016) and voiced Kate in Nickelodeon's animated spinoff series Dora and Friends: Into the City! (2014–2017). In film, she has played Izabella in Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), Lizzy in Instant Family (2018), Isabel in Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018), the titular character in Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019), and Rachel Cooper in the Netflix film Sweet Girl (2021).

Early life and education

Merced was born in Cleveland, Ohio.[5][6] She is the daughter of Katherine, who was born in Lima, Peru, and Patrick Moner, who was born in Louisiana.[5][7] Merced has stated that Spanish was her first language, and she struggled with English when she first started grade school,[7] adding that she considers herself more Peruvian than American.[8] At age 15, she was accepted into college.[9]

Merced began acting after her family's Cleveland home was destroyed by a fire. Merced was a Judy Garland fan, so her parents, wanting to distract her from the loss, asked her if she wanted to audition for a local production of The Wizard of Oz. She agreed and was cast as a Munchkin. A local theatre director urged the family to relocate to New York City, which they did, to help her pursue a career on Broadway.[10]

Career

Merced has said that she wanted to be an actress from a very young age, inspired by movies featuring Shirley Temple and Judy Garland and starting in local community theatre at age six.[11] Merced made her Broadway debut at age ten in a production of Evita,[12] in which she sang in Spanish with Ricky Martin.[7] She released an album produced by Broadway Records in September 2015, entitled Stopping Time.[13]

Merced's first starring performance was as CJ Martin, the lead role on the Nickelodeon television series 100 Things to Do Before High School,[7][12][14] from 2014 to 2016. That same year, she began providing the voice of Kate, one of the main characters in the Dora the Explorer spinoff, Dora and Friends: Into the City!, a role she performed from 2014 to 2017.[15] In 2015, she appeared as Lori Collins in the Nickelodeon Original Movie Splitting Adam,[16] and was cast as Sadie, one of the leading roles, in the 2016 Nickelodeon Original Movie Legends of the Hidden Temple.[17][18] In May 2016, Merced was cast in the film Transformers: The Last Knight, which was released in June 2017.[19][20] She voiced Heather in the animated film The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, which was theatrically released on August 11, 2017.[21]

Merced in 2018

In 2018, Merced had a "major" role in Sicario: Day of the Soldado, playing the daughter of a drug cartel head,[22][23] in a performance lauded by critics. The New Yorker's Anthony Lane wrote "Moner is terrific, and her character’s fortunes can be read in her eyes—blazing to begin with, as she scraps with another girl in a schoolyard, but dark and blank by the end, their youthful fire doused by the violence that she has seen."[24]

In the same year, she played the adopted daughter of the characters played by Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne in the comedy film Instant Family,[25] for which she also wrote and sang the song "I'll Stay".[26][27] In 2019, Merced starred as the title character in Dora and the Lost City of Gold, a live action film adaptation of the animated series,[28][29] and was cast in the Christmas romantic comedy ensemble film Let It Snow.[30] The same year, she was cast opposite Jason Momoa in the film Sweet Girl for Netflix.[31]

On October 14, 2019, Merced announced to her fans via a post on her Instagram account that she had decided to change her stage name to Isabela Merced,[32] in memory of her late grandmother whom she never met.[33] Merced later explained that she had not legally changed her name and said that it was "just a stage name but it's got a deeper meaning".[34] Her first single, "Papi", was released on October 25, 2019, followed by her first music video released on November 6, 2019.[35] On May 22, 2020, Merced released her debut EP, The Better Half of Me;[36] and was named one of Billboard's top 15 new Peruvian artists to listen to in July 2020.[37]

In March 2022, it was announced Merced would star in Turtles All the Way Down, a film adaptation of the 2017 novel by John Green, which began filming in April 2022.[38][39] In March 2023, Merced joined the cast of Fede Álvarez's Alien: Romulus.[40] In July 2023, Merced was cast as Hawkgirl in the DC Universe (DCU) film Superman: Legacy (2025).[41] In January 2024, Merced was cast as Dina in season 2 of The Last of Us.[42]

Filmography

Film roles
Year Title Role Notes
2013 The House That Jack Built Young Nadia
2016 Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life Jeanne Galleta
2017 Transformers: The Last Knight Izabella
The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature Heather (voice)
2018 Sicario: Day of the Soldado Isabel Reyes
Instant Family Lizzy
2019 Dora and the Lost City of Gold Dora last time credited as Isabela Moner[30]
Let It Snow Julie first time credited as Isabela Merced[30]
2021 Spirit Untamed Lucky Prescott (voice)
Sweet Girl Rachel Cooper
2022 Father of the Bride Cora Herrera
Rosaline Juliet
2023 Migration Kim (voice)
2024 Madame Web Anya Corazón / Araña
Turtles All the Way Down Aza Holmes Post-production[38][39]
Alien: Romulus TBA Post-production[43]
Key
Denotes films that have not yet been released
Television roles
Year Title Role Notes
2014 Growing Up Fisher Jenny Recurring role, 7 episodes
2014–2017 Dora and Friends: Into the City! Kate Main voice role
2014–2016 100 Things to Do Before High School CJ Martin Lead role
2015 Splitting Adam Lori Collins Television film
2016 Legends of the Hidden Temple Sadie Television film
2019 The Amazing Race Canada Herself Episode: "Clamageddon Continues"[44]
2020 #KidsTogether: The Nickelodeon Town Hall Herself Television special
2021 Maya and the Three Widow Queen Miniseries; voice role
2025 The Last of Us Dina Recurring role
Video game roles
Year Title Role Notes
2017 Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover Ava Short film; voice role[45]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
2015 Imagen Awards Best Young Actress – Television 100 Things to Do Before High School Nominated [46]
2016 Imagen Awards Best Young Actor – Television 100 Things to Do Before High School Won [47]
2017 Teen Choice Award Choice Summer Movie Actress Transformers: The Last Knight Nominated [48]
2017 CinemaCon Award Rising Star of the Year Herself Won [49]
Young Entertainers Award Best Young Ensemble Cast – Feature Film Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life Nominated [50]
2019 Young Entertainers Award Best Leading Young Actress Instant Family Won [51]
Imagen Awards Best Actress – Feature Film Instant Family Won [52]
2020 Imagen Awards Best Actress - Feature Film Dora and the Lost City of Gold Won [53]

References

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  2. ^ merced, isabela (February 9, 2019). "Republic Records' Class of 2019 Billboard's The Power 100 Issue : @joepug Congrats Monte and Avery pic.twitter.com/lEExjlgQVb". Archived from the original on October 16, 2019. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
  3. ^ "Isabela Moner ya tiene DNI y lo celebra en Instagram". MSN. October 16, 2019. Archived from the original on October 16, 2019. Retrieved January 5, 2022.
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  5. ^ a b c Dawidziak, Mark (August 14, 2014). "Isabela Moner is a Cleveland native with two Nickelodeon shows". Cleveland Plain Dealer. Plain Dealer Publishing Co. and Northeast Ohio Media Group. Archived from the original on December 4, 2018. Retrieved June 30, 2015. Her parents, Patrick and Katherine Moner, ... She turned 13 on July 10.
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External links