EDITOR’S NOTE: This content updated on April 2 after show results were made public.
Hailing from a home of Hollywood actors and New York City painters, Mollie Isaacs knew she was destined for a career in the arts.
At a young age, Isaacs dreamed of being an actress like her mom Gabrielle Carteris, known for her role as Andrea on Beverly Hills 90210. After dabbling in voice acting, Isaacs realized there was a way for her to set herself apart from her talented family: She could sing.
Isaacs, a 21-year-old junior at CU Boulder, recently competed on season 18 of American Idol, after singing Angel Down by Lady Gaga and Make You Feel My Love by Adele for judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie in Los Angeles last November.
“It is a really daunting but exciting thing,” said Isaacs, who admitted to having “horrible stage fright” and cognitively blacking out during her audition.
The judges compared Isaacs’ voice to that of mega-star Billie Eilish before Katy Perry held up a golden ticket and screamed: “You’re going to Hollywood!”
“I fell to my knees with my hands over my face and all 15 of my friends and family rushed in the room and we all screamed and jumped together,” Isaacs wrote in an email prior to transitioning to remote learning amid the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Initially, Isaacs wasn’t planning to attend college. She hoped to start her music career after high school, but after some convincing from family and friends who thought she should have a backup plan, Isaacs chose CU Boulder.
“It was definitely the best decision I’ve made so far,” she said.
“I decided if I was going to go anywhere it had to be somewhere where I was going to be happy and around people who are passionate,” explained Isaacs, who also said the mountains and access to nature were big factors in her decision to attend CU Boulder.
“I love my school so much, so having school pride on my side is awesome,” said Isaacs, who shared an enthusiastic “Sko Buffs!”
Unfortunately, Isaacs did not make on to the live performances section of the season, which is currently on hold due to COVID-19.
After the results of her Hollywood audition, celebrity judge Lionel Richie encouraged Isaacs to take advantage of her time at home by honing her skills and making necessary changes to her act before returning next season.
And as Isaacs and her fellow Buffs around the nation practice social distancing, that’s definitely top of mind for her.
“It’s times like these that we all need to remember how important it is to be compassionate and understanding toward ourselves and others,” she said. “Do what you can. Stay home, explore the outdoors, and share your resources with those who need it. Things will get worse before they get better, but we will get through this together.”
A champion for women and diversity
Isaacs, a women and gender studies major, has made the most of her time at CU Boulder, including starting a new diversity and inclusion leadership position at her sorority last year.
“We tried to make a real, actually inclusive environment,” Isaacs said about the new position. “It helps to ensure that we don’t just uphold this façade of being diverse and inclusive, but that the person in this position is going to ethnic studies classes and is talking to the underrepresented groups we’re trying to include.”
Since starting this position, other sororities on campus have followed in her footsteps.
A champion of women’s rights, Isaacs also started a campus club called “Let’s Talk About It,” which brings together pre-law students, women and gender studies majors and student government representatives to work with students and campus administrators to fight against sexual assault on campus.
Issacs started the club during her second year at CU, after realizing every female-presenting person she met had her own story about sexual assault.
“It’s so normal to all of us. We go to parties in groups, like warriors preparing for battle—It didn’t feel normal to me,” she said.
In light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, Isaacs put a hold on upcoming club meetings, but hopes to schedule virtual sessions in coming weeks.
Isaacs wanted to create a space for people to talk openly about sexual assault and to discuss potential solutions. Through her activism on campus Isaacs discovered how her passion for singing could give her a voice on issues like sexual assault.
Now she has a bigger floor: National television. And the medium couldn’t be better considering the fact that so many Americans are at home – looking to screens to stay connected and informed.
“There are so many wonderful people who are already fighting for these things,” she said. “But I feel like Idol was a way to help me also do my part in creating that platform.”
Mollie Isaacs was briefly featured on season 18, episode 7, of American Idol, which aired Sunday, March 22, 2020. She performed a duet of The Chain by Fleetwood Mac with fellow contestant Lauren Jean.