By Jerry Del Priore
Isaiah Kristian has been making the rounds for the critically acclaimed independent movie We the Animals, a coming-of-age story of three brothers who live a turbulent existence with their parents in Upstate, New York, loosely based on Justin Torres’ novel of the same name, in which he plays Manny.
While Kristen’s said he’s enjoying the notoriety that comes along with a stellar acting performance for a buzz-worthy film, he’s looking forward to his student-athlete days at New Visions Charter High School for Advanced Math and Science IV at August Martin High School in South Jamaica, Queens.
“I’m very excited for it, but also nervous at the same time because I’m only going to be a freshman and I’m going straight to varsity,” said Kristian, 14, who will be manning the receiver position for his dad, Kyle Allen, the new football head coach at August Martin High School. “But I believe in myself, and I know I can do it.”
Kristen’s acting career began innocently enough. His mother, Elina Vainio-Allen took him to his first ever audition, which took place in Park Slope, Brooklyn. At first, he said he was just going through the motions. Then, Kristen, 11 or 12 at the time, said as the process neared the finished line, he truly wanted the role.
Kristian’s nonchalant approach seemed to have help him land the part, along with other factors — his look, acting ability, and wiliness to learn.
“I really didn’t think anything of it,” the New York native explained of getting the role during the first few auditions. “I was able to relax and just do it. Sometimes, when you overthink things and you get too nervous and stuff, that you’re not able to perform as well as you can. But if you’re calm, and you’re able to do it, you’ll be fine.”
As for playing football, Kristian has been around and played the sport since his childhood, and just naturally fell in love with the game.
“When he was young I never tried to get him into football,” Allen said. “I wanted that to happen naturally so that he wouldn’t feel pressure to like it because he was expected to. When he first started playing, he did it because he wanted to. He would come to work with me and watch the players on my team and he wanted to just like them. Now, he has the opportunity to do that.”
For the Brooklyn-born Allen, he will be coaching the game for which has been a part of his life over 30 years, while providing guidance and tutelage for one of his favorite people in the world.
“I am very excited that I have a chance to do something I love while spending time with someone that I love,” said Allen, who has been a high school head coach going on seven years. “I never have to worry about missing one of his games because I have my own, now they’re one in the same.”
While Kristian loves football, his dad said he’s developed a fervent desire for the thespian arts.
“As for acting, it is something that he also fell in love with,” Allen explained. “He never acted before, so it was a new experience all together. We try not to pressure him. We do tell him to make it every bit of a priority now. ‘They auditioned over 1000 kids and they chose you, so be grateful, be thankful, and be humble.’ He loves acting now and we cannot wait to see where this takes him.”
We the Animals’ theatrical, wide-release is in early September, but can be seen in select New York City and Los Angeles theaters right now. It stars Raul Castillo (HBO’s Looking) as Paps, Shelia Vand (Fargo, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot) as Ma, Evan Rosado as Jonah and Josiah Gabriel as Joel.
Kristian and the Falcons start the football season on Saturday, September 15 at noon, versus Info Tech at Campus Magnet High School.