Meet Emeraude Toubia, Mexican-Lebanese actress best known for her role as Isabelle Lightwood on Freeform’s Shadowhunters, a fantasy TV series based on The Mortal Instruments series of novels written by Cassandra Clare.
Having gotten her start in Spanish television at the age of ten, from beauty pageants and hosting gigs to regular roles in numerous telenovelas, Emeraude’s starring role in Shadowhunters has won her celeb status. Rising from near obscurity to international star with over 2 million followers on Instagram, Emeraude is settling into her newfound fame with grace, becoming an active member in the Shadowhunters fanbase, and engaging with her audience unflinchingly. Given the opportunity to flex her performing versatility, Emeraude won the hearts of millions of fans worldwide with the help of Netflix’s global licensing deal, making each Shadowhunters episode available on Netflix globally (with the exception of the US) one day after each episode’s live Freeform release. With Shadowhunters on its third and finale season (airing Mondays on Freeform at 8/7c), Emeraude prepares to embark on the journey that is the last 12 episodes of the series, taking viewers on an emotional rollercoaster along with her.
I chatted with Emeraude about everything from her Canadian roots, to life in the limelight, and the juicy romances we can expect in the final episodes of Shadowhunters.
THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN EDITED AND CONDENSED FOR BREVITY AND CLARITY.
I read that you're from Montreal! Did you grow up here?
“I was born in Montreal, my dad is Lebanese and my mom is Mexican, and they actually met in Texas, but all of my dad’s side of the family lived in Montreal. They moved there and I was born and lived there for only about a year or two before we moved back to Texas.”
And so you grew up in texas?
“Yes, I grew up in Texas. I was raised in Texas and then I moved to Miami for a bit and I was hosting a video countdown show there, and then I moved to LA when I booked Shadowhunters and we were shooting [the show] in Toronto.
What was the casting like for Shadowhunters?
“It’s a long process. The nice thing about the casting for this show is that they were looking for all ethnicities, and I’m Latina playing a non-Latina role. I think it just shows how far Hollywood has come, and there’s still a long way to go and for them to learn about different ethnic groups and how one size doesn’t fit all. It was nice to book one of the lead [roles] of the show where I’m not just playing a stereotypical Latina.
PRIOR TO YOUR ROLE IN SHADOWHUNTERS, YOU WERE PLAYING MOSTLY SPANISH ROLES AND NOW YOU’RE MAKING A NAME FOR YOURSELF IN AMERICAN TELEVISION… HOW IS THAT DIFFERENT?
“When you work in Spanish television and you’re doing novelas, soap operas, you do about 40 scenes a day and you use this little ear piece that [crew members use to] feed you your lines because it’s at a very fast pace. Novelas air every night, Monday through Friday for about 4-6 months. TV series air once a week for about 4 months, every season is about 10 episodes, some do 20, so it’s at a much slower pace. When I was shooting Shadowhunters, I was doing maybe 4 scenes a day, you really focus on those [scenes] before moving on. That was the biggest difference.”
AND DO YOU HAVE MORE REHEARSAL TIME FOR SHADOWHUNTERS?
“In that aspect, it’s kind of the same because when you get to a novela set, you get stage direction and then you do your thing. When something happens in Shadowhunters, you get in, the director sets your feet and where you’re gonna move, and then it’s just doing the scenes over again because you’re only using 2 cameras, and you need to get the wide shots, the medium shots, the close ups, etc. for every character.”
AND NOW YOU HAVE A WHOLE NEW AUDIENCE THAT’S WATCHING AND KNOW YOU KNOW… WHAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST CHANGE SINCE LANDING YOUR ROLE ON SHADOWNHUNTERS?
“I think that with having the show on Netflix, it’s worldwide. The fanbase is ginormous, it’s out of this world, and I’ve gotten to do conventions in Milan and Paris, this year I’m going to Brussels. It’s a worldwide fanbase, thanks to Netflix.”
HAVE YOU NOTICED A BIG life change, SUDDENLY HAVING ALL OF THOSE EYS ON YOU?
“I absolutely think that you have a lot more responsibility because you have a platform to speak about trying to be a better version of yourself. You have all of these young girls looking at you, and to me, that’s the most important thing.”
What advice do you have for young women looking to break into the entertainment industry?
“Prepare yourself. I think that the moment you are educated, the moment you come prepared, people look at you and people respect you. I think that’s the key to being successful. I think that when you’re passionate enough and you want it so badly, all of the “no”s that you’re gonna get (there will be a lot of them), are just going to make you stronger to keep fighting.”
What are you most excited for the audience to see on Season 3 of Shadowhunters?
“I’m really excited for them to see #Sizzy, which is the ship between Isabelle and Simon. I think that the audience has been waiting for that ship, because it’s the only one left that hasn’t officially become a ship. That’s what I’m waiting for the audience to see that because it’s gonna be so beautiful and so earned.”