Isabella Camille Briones
January 17, 1999
Isabella Camille Briones, known professionally as Isa Briones (/ /; born January 17, 1999), is an American actor and singer. A veteran of musical theatre, she rose to prominence for her starring role as Soji, android "daughter" of Data, in the CBS All Access (later Paramount+) series Star Trek: Picard.
Briones began her career as a model in New York City at age three; she has acted in feature films and stage productions starting in 2008. She won the Ovation Award for Featured Actress In a Musical for Next to Normal in 2018 in Los Angeles. Afterward, she returned to New York and became the youngest performer in the first touring company of Hamilton, playing multiple roles and earning praise for her "sultry alto" voice.
Briones was cast in Star Trek: Picard in 2019 and made her debut in January 2020. In addition to multiple acting performances, she was asked to sing a new arrangement of an Irving Berlin song for the season one finale.
Isa Briones was born in London, England, to Jon Jon Briones and Megan Briones (née Johnson), and she has a younger brother, Teo. Her family members are all musical theatre actors. She is Filipino on her father's side, and Swedish and Irish on her mother's.
Her parents met in Stuttgart while auditioning for Miss Saigon; her father was closing its West End theatre production when Briones was born. She was ten months old when her family moved from London to New York City, where she began work as a model at age three. In 2006, when Briones was seven, her family moved to Los Angeles.
Film and television
For a television pilot in 2010, Briones played one of three children of a single mother moonlighting as a drug kingpin in Beverly Hills. In 2018, she appeared along with her father in an episode of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.
In 2019, Briones was cast in Star Trek: Picard, playing two sets of synthetic twins: Dahj and Soji, and Jana and Sutra. Briones sent tapes of herself to audition for the web television series while she was playing multiple roles on stage in Hamilton, and learned during the process that she would portray twins in the series. She made her debut as both Dahj and Soji during the season premiere in January 2020.
Briones said she identified most closely with Soji who, after Romulan attacks, learns she is not human but rather an android created from a remnant of Data: "I think that's a very relatable story as a mixed person, deciding that you can be ... both Filipino and white, and you can be both synthetic and human, if that's how you feel inside." Sutra presented a different direction for Briones, who chose a similar look to Data, and the novel challenge of acting opposite herself as Soji.
In his review of the series' debut episode, Entertainment Weekly's Darren Franich called its plot developments "shock tactics" and Dahj "vacant". Scott Collura of IGN wrote that Soji is effectively a plot device, but Briones "gives it her all week after week, reacting best she can to Soji’s changing status quo". Keith DeCandido from Tor.com said her performance improved with each episode; "her confused post-activation Soji is her best work".
Paramount+ confirmed in April 2021 that Briones will return for the series' second season.
In 2018, Briones earned three Ovation Award nominations for Featured Actress In a Musical from the LA STAGE Alliance. She was nominated for her portrayal of Perón's mistress in Evita, and won for her performance in one of two discrete productions of Next to Normal. In his review of Next to Normal in August 2016, Cary Ginell of BroadwayWorld wrote, "Briones gives a disquietingly effective, achingly nuanced portrayal" of her character, Natalie; in October, Ginell called her song in Evita "one of the most quietly exquisite moments in the entire musical." Margaret Gray of the Los Angeles Times called Briones the "breakout star" of Next to Normal in May 2017: "Briones played the role before ... and she has a lock on it." Erin Conley of OnStage Los Angeles praised Briones's "beautiful, crystal clear voice."
Briones joined her father when he moved back to New York in January 2018. She was cast in Hamilton following a seven-month audition process, becoming at age 19 the youngest person to join the first national touring company. Over the course of its one-year run, she played both Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds, and understudied for the role of Eliza Hamilton. Her performances brought praise from Judith Newmark of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: she "effectively plays Peggy Schuyler as a cupcake and Maria Reynolds as a flambé." Cincinnati CityBeat's Rick Pender wrote, "Briones brings a sultry alto to her second role as Maria Reynolds," Hamilton's mistress. She toured with the company until March 2019, and was cast in Star Trek: Picard in April.
After production wrapped in Los Angeles on the series' first season, Briones returned to the stage. She appeared in AJ Rafael's Crazy Talented Asians, and #Hash(tag) America by Anthony Fedorov and Raye Zaragoza. In May 2020, Briones and the cast of Crazy Talented Asians began producing a monthly online performance series.
For the Star Trek: Picard season one finale, "Et In Arcadia Ego, Part 2", Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies" was set to play during Data's final scene as a bookend to his performance in Star Trek: Nemesis. Composer Jeff Russo wrote a new arrangement for the episode, and series co-creator Alex Kurtzman suggested they ask Briones to perform the vocals. Briones said, "it's so right that this is the song" playing at the end of Data's journey. Her rendition was released as a single in 2020.
Briones joined her Star Trek: Picard castmates including Jonathan Frakes, Jeri Ryan and Brent Spiner in a video message of hope to viewers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020. In July, Briones took part in the Star Trek Universe Virtual Panel for Comic-Con@Home, the virtual event that replaced San Diego Comic-Con in 2020.
|2008||Brown Soup Thing||Cousin Isa||Feature film|
|2010||Takers||Sunday Welles||Feature film|
|2013||Lonely Boy||Mia||Feature film|
|2018||The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story||Elena Cunanan||Episode: "Creator/Destroyer"; also starring Jon Jon Briones|
|2020||Star Trek: Picard||Dahj/Soji/Jana/Sutra||CBS All Access/Paramount+ series|
|The Ready Room||Herself||Web television aftershow: "Episode 22"|
|2018||"Rewrite the Stars"||AJ Rafael ft. Isa Briones||Atlantic|
|2020||"Blue Skies"||Isa Briones||Lakeshore|
|2018||Evita||Perón's Mistress||Featured Actress In a Musical||Nominated|
|2018||Next to Normal (East West Players)||Natalie||Featured Actress In a Musical||Won|
|2018||Next to Normal (Triage Productions; Standing Room Only Productions)||Natalie||Featured Actress In a Musical||Nominated|
- Grigware, Don (August 19, 2016). "BWW Interview: Isa Briones Opens Up About Next to Normal". BroadwayWorld. New York City. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
- WATCH: Jude Hosts a Paint-Date With Isa Briones. startrek.com. March 11, 2020. Event occurs at 0:06. Retrieved October 6, 2020. Cites pronunciation.
- Nepales, Ruben V. (January 30, 2020). "Fil-Am Isa Briones went from Hamilton to a female lead role in Picard—and she's just 21". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Makati. p. 1. Retrieved April 6, 2020. Cites birth place and date, American Crime Story.
"Dahj/Soji: Isa Briones". cbs.com. Archived from the original on September 28, 2020. Retrieved March 15, 2021.
Actor and singer Isa Briones ... most recent credits include ... the First National Touring Company of Hamilton, and Next to Normal ... for which she won an L.A. Ovation Award.Cites actor and singer.
Moreland, Alex (January 22, 2020). "Exclusive Interview—Isa Briones and Jonathan Del Arco on Star Trek: Picard, their characters Dahj and Hugh, and more". South Shields: Flickering Myth. Retrieved March 15, 2021.
[Jonathan Del Arco:] She’s also an incredibly confident actor and performer, a great singer as well." "[Moreland:] It’s pretty good going for an actor who only turned 21 the day after our interview.Cites actor and singer.
- Spelling & Stobie 2020, p. 28.
- "Fans and actors will miss Saigon". Evening Standard. London. October 25, 1999. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
- Nepales (January 30, 2020), p. 2. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
- Foorwalker, Mike (January 30, 2020). "Why Dahj/Soji From Star Trek: Picard Looks So Familiar". Looper. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
- Spelling & Stobie 2020, p. 26.
- Terrace 2014, p. 226, entry 2030. Briones and her brother Teo played Lily and Alex Cabrera, respectively. Sarah Wynter played their sister Sophia. Cutthroat was not picked up as a series.
- Porter, Rick (April 17, 2019). "Patrick Stewart's Star Trek Series Adds Newsroom, Penny Dreadful Actors". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 3, 2020.
- Pirrello, Phil (March 19, 2020). "11 Star Trek: Picard Easter Eggs as Season 1 Nears the End". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 10, 2020. Jana is presented in a drawing; she was killed prior to the events of Picard.
- Miller, Liz Shannon (March 26, 2020). "Star Trek: Picard Star Isa Briones on the Finale, Confirms Patrick Stewart Is 'Just the Coolest Dude'". Paste. Retrieved October 5, 2020. "[The producers wanted] a distinct look ... and I was like, 'let's just go for it with this one—she can have the long hair, she can have the eyes.' ... I definitely feel, as a theatre actor, that ... once you’re in costume, and the lights are on, everything is happening, you naturally fall into the character. And I feel like that’s exactly what happened with Sutra". Cites theatre actor, audition process, Sutra.
- Schager, Nick (January 23, 2020). "Star Trek: Picard premiere recap: The past, reborn". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
- Deb, Sopan (March 6, 2020). "Star Trek: Picard Season 1, Episode 7 Recap: Will Riker Makes Pizza". The New York Times. Retrieved April 26, 2020. Cites identified. Picard establishes that a Romulan shadow group intends to destroy all synthetic life. Soji's twin, Dahj, is killed by Romulans in the premiere episode.
Kain, Erik (January 28, 2020). "Star Trek: Picard review: Everything I Didn't Know I Wanted It to Be". Forbes. Retrieved May 23, 2020. Cites Data.
- Star Trek Universe Virtual Panel | Comic-Con@Home 2020. YouTube. Comic-Con International. July 23, 2020. Event occurs at 1:04:47–1:05:19. Retrieved December 16, 2020. "Sutra came later, and I already knew who Soji was … I was losing my mind—a bit—it looked a little crazy, just turning my head and talking to myself … and coming from theatre as well, I think I thought it was going to be more different than it was."
- Franich, Darren (January 23, 2020). "Can Star Trek: Picard recover from its bafflingly bad premiere?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
- Collura, Scott (March 28, 2020). "Star Trek: Picard Episode 9 Recap / Review – 'Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1'". IGN. San Francisco. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
- DeCandido, Keith R. A. (April 3, 2020). "Regrets, I've Had a Few — Star Trek: Picard First Season Overview". Tor.com. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
- Del Rosario, Alexandra (April 5, 2021). "Star Trek: Picard Season 2 Teaser: Patrick Stewart Ponders The Final Frontier, Hints At A Familiar Character's Return". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
- Nepales, Ruben V. (October 7, 2016). "Jon Jon Briones' daughter also rises". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Makati. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
- Gelt, Jessica (January 30, 2018). "Ovation Awards 2018: Wins for Actors Co-op's 33 Variations, East West Players' Next to Normal". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 10, 2020. Cites award/nominations, commercials.
Ginell, Cary (October 20, 2016). "BWW Interview: Isa Briones of Evita at Cabrillo Music Theatre". BroadwayWorld. New York City. Retrieved April 10, 2020. Cites Evita, move to New York.
- Ginell, Cary (August 24, 2016). "BWW Review: Next To Normal at Pico Playhouse". BroadwayWorld. New York City. Retrieved April 19, 2020.
- Ginell, Cary (October 19, 2016). "Evita Teen Star Isa Briones On The Energy Of Acting". Ventura County Theatre News. Thousand Oaks, California. Retrieved March 28, 2020.
[Briones:] I don’t want to go all method … but on the other hand, I know that I am Natalie, I know what she is going through, although I’m only an actor.
- Gray, Margaret (May 25, 2017). "Review: At East West Players, the gut-wrenching emotion of Next to Normal transcends race". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 6, 2020. Gray called Briones "the lovely, impressive newcomer" in her review the year before.
- Conley, Erin. "Review: Next to Normal at the Pico Playhouse". Onstage Los Angeles. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
- Ang, Walter (April 19, 2018). "Fil-Am Isa Briones is youngest actor in Hamilton nat'l tour". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Makati. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
- Newmark, Judith (April 5, 2018). "Hamilton rises up to the highest reaches at the Fox Theatre". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
- Pender, Rick (February 22, 2019). "The Hamilton Cincinnati Staging is on Par with Broadway's Original". Cincinnati CityBeat. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
- "Isa Briones". About the Artists. Retrieved December 29, 2020. Also cites understudy.
- Bronson, Fred (October 15, 2019). "#Hash(tag) America Brings Together Talent From American Idol, Star Trek: Picard & More". Billboard. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
[Crazy Talented Asians] was one of my first opportunities to interact one-on-one with fans of Star Trek.
- "East West Players Announces Virtual Gala and Weekly Streaming Content Featuring Randall Park & More". BroadwayWorld. New York City. April 30, 2020. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
- Briong, Ian (February 1, 2020). "YouTube star AJ Rafael thanks 'fans since middle school' in open letter ..." Philippine Daily Inquirer. Makati. Retrieved April 3, 2020. Cites Filipino-American.
"AJ Rafael (official channel)". YouTube. Retrieved April 3, 2020. Cites videos.
- "Search: Isa Briones". Apple Music. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
- Star Trek: Picard and The Return of "Blue Skies". startrek.com (television production). Event occurs at 0:58–1:13. Retrieved March 17, 2021.
[Russo: I told Kurtzman it was a great idea to record our own version], 'and we'll find a singer' ... and he was like, 'well, you know, Isa is a singer.'
- Star Trek: Picard and The Return of "Blue Skies". Event occurs at 0:37–0:49 and 3:30–3:47. Retrieved March 17, 2021. "This is obviously a bit of a throwback to ... when Data sang 'Blue Skies', so it's really cool that Data's 'daughter' kind of gets to sing it as well. ... It's so right that this is the song that is playing during this moment ... in Nemesis, it's the beginning of something. As we sing it this time, it's the end of this chapter; it's a good-bye."
- Davenport, Emily (March 29, 2021). "Asian American figures launch video campaign as part of #StopAsianHate National Day of Action and Healing". AM New York Metro. New York City. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
- @startrekcbs (April 8, 2020). "No matter where you are in the galaxy, we're #InThisTogether" (Tweet). Retrieved April 19, 2020 – via Twitter.
- Star Trek Universe Virtual Panel | Comic-Con@Home 2020. YouTube. Comic-Con International. July 23, 2020. Event occurs at 1:00:00–1:17:46. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
- Spelling, Ian (2020). "Star Trek: Picard: Double Trouble". Star Trek: The Official Magazine. Vol. 1 no. 75. Titan Magazines. ISSN 1357-3888.
- Spelling, Ian; Stobie, Jay (2020). Jones, Nick (ed.). Star Trek: Picard – Official Collector's Edition. Titan Magazines. ISBN 9781787732438.
- Terrace, Vincent (2014). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Company. ISBN 9780786486410.
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