Ishika pays close attention to the work of her peers, and is an active, thoughtful participant in discussion. She was always a pleasure to have in the room, and I very much look forward to observing her continued growth. [In Measure for Measure], she and her partner created a wonderfully nuanced filmed version of their scene from Measure for Measure. They made inventive use of their separation in real life, incorporating eye line angles and reaction shots to sell the fiction of togetherness. The editing overall had a natural syntax, peppered with intelligent cinematic choices highlighting the characters’ perspective. She found intensity in stillness and restraint in the first section of the scene, allowing her to expand more fully and surprisingly at climactic later moments — such as her “brother is forfeit” line. Her final monologue as Angelo was the high point of her semester: spontaneous, dynamic, emotionally transparent AND full of physical detail.
Lars America Jan, Studio Teacher at CalArts
"Ishika did very good work this semester and her dedication, sensitivity, and hard work were a great asset to the ensemble. In addition to a great work ethic, she is able to take direction and, over time, apply it to her work and continue building those skills in her future work. Her comments after exercises and scenes were observant and supportive and, as the semester progressed, she challenged an instinct to support others before standing for herown work. Ishika is able to take her curiosity for the work and translate it into discoveries and play with joy."
Daniel Passer, Studio Teacher at CalArts
Ishika is incredibly hard working, creative, and takes her training seriously. She is an intelligent, motivated, and supportive member of an ensemble. I was so impressed by the level of passion she has for acting and how she backs that up with dedication and hard work. As a result she demonstrated significant growth in her work and in her ability to take on a range of complex, emotionally challenging roles. Ishika has the talent to play a wide range of character types, i.e. dramatic, heightened, comedic, naturalistic/contemporary.
One of the reasons Ishika showed so much growth this semester is because she intentionally took advantage of opportunities to stretch her range and try different characters. [In her sonnet], Ishika did an excellent job of physical and vocal transformation, giving her character a heavy and nervous energy. It was a powerful performance... [In Angels in America], Ishika dove right in and bravely confronted the emotional intensity of the scene. … as challenging as that scene was, she was excited to have the opportunity to play the role and she brought passion and sincerity to it. Her emotional commitment was excellent … final performance had a much stronger activation of their emotional history and current stakes. I really enjoyed their strange and fascinating take on Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights using 2-D video game concepts. Weird and brilliant! Their commitment to the highly stylized and absurdist mode of performance was very strong performance work, and Ishika created this incredible half-body MIHA costume. Ishika also revealed her interests and talents in sound design and music production.
Chi-Wang Yang, Acting Teacher at CalArts
Ishika is a powerhouse of intellect and talent, and a generous ensemble member. As she finds greater confidence in herself, that power is gradually finding outlet in her work, and I’m excited to see more in the years to come! Mature, disciplined and intellectually curious about the work, she was a reliably hard-working presence in class, always prepared and ready to work, very professional in demeanor. Her Poem Project was well done and deeply personal, allowing a fiery connection to her material that is a less-showcased side of Ishika. Her Anna Deavere Smith Project was also strong work, great commitment rounded out the three-dimensional characterization. Her final demonstrated a near perfect understanding of our skills/techniques, with minimal adjustments to make.
Adam J. Smith, Voice Teacher at CalArts (Barrantes System)
Ishika is a delight to have in class. I appreciated her enthusiasm and seriousness for the work and her craft. She was always prepared and committed to the work. She brought in a dance that was beautiful, entertaining and seducing. She has great skill and work ethic… She took a big risk to play someone very different from her-Sofia Vergara. Character sketches demonstrated a strength for observation and variety of character. She really played with a variety of dynamics to create characters that saw the world differently. Congrats!
Estela Garcia, Movement/Masks Teacher at CalArts
It is with great pleasure that I acknowledge and honor Ishika Muchal for successfully addressing and incorporating her perfectionist tendencies in beautiful, powerful and effective ways. Her final, and the approach to it, showed a significant expansion in creative prospective and technical application. Her precision with the language was easy and unlabored. And, when left to her own devices, became largely instinctive. Her final presentation of Constance was well-grounded and deeply connected. There is a size and scope in her interpretation of the material that I haven’t seen or felt before. Ishika’s transcription work continues to be topmost of notches! She’s using the technical aspects of transcribing sounds into her speech to inform her creativity and involvement.
Christopher Fairbanks, Speech Teacher at CalArts (Skinner's Good Speech/Standard American)
You are more than an actor. You are an artist and creator. I see you think about theater and your work like a live painting. I'm excited to see where this work takes you. You were brave and I saw the work.
– Kalean Ung, Voice Teacher at CalArts (Barrantes System)
Ishika was a pleasure to have in class, such great energy and effort in her day to day participation. She has a natural enthusiasm that is infectious and inviting; because she is having fun, her development was organic and considerable! In addition, she has good musical skill and picked up the Conga and Pandeiro quickly.
– Sean Anthony Moran and Jessica Moran, Capoeira Instructors at CalArts
“Ishika, you have an especially expressive, beautiful face! We can see how much you love your craft and performing. The moments in which you tap into authentic feelings are so riveting! You’re doing such a great job of staying grounded and not pushing too hard. You really stay in each moment and live there, which is lovely. You have an excellent connection to the storytelling and you understand your character. It was a delight to watch and hear you!”
– Spotlight Review, Music Center
“Imagination should be her middle name. Ishika has tons of ideas! She had helped develop much of our show and is a crucial part of the class. Ishika helped in creating a lot of the dance and she even created the songs in the play. In movement class, Ishika is never afraid of expression. She helps all the time with brainstorming ideas. She is so focused in class. She works well with viewpoints and took directions quickly. Ishika continues to be a strong leader. I continue to enjoy what she contributes to the camps play process. She is not just smart but very giving, willing to even share her lunch with a hungry classmate.”
– Aries Sanders (acting camp teacher)
“Ishika’s Neil Simon monologue had good focus and understanding of the material; really great interaction with imaginary other and wonderful character arc; nice commitment to passion of character and situation, and nice connection with other characters. Hope you can do the play! Gogol monologue was charming and funny with great dramatic stakes and physical illustration; good interpretation of a flighty character; cute and appealing, well-defined character; well-staged and entertaining.”
– DTASC (drama competiton) judges: Natalie Brice, Robert Artz, Hannah Tamkin, and Steve Hovendahl
While most students seem shy to try unfamiliar ways of expressions, I notice Ishika not only being ready to experiment and soaking up the details of what’s taught in “class, but also coming to subsequent classes with her personal inputs to develop the particular character we explore in the padam. To me, this demonstrates her ability to sustain and pursue the rigors involved in deep study of a particular query. However, what I admire most in Ishika is that she has consciously worked to break down her own perceived barriers of language and expression. In the summer of 2017, Ishika worked on creating a dance piece that explores specific sociopolitical issues of stereotyping. She…leaned into what she seemed to fear and this allowed her to open up a unique space of learning where discipline, creativity, and free-thinking merge to enable deeper understanding... Ishika materialized for herself a distinctly radical approach—the ability to intertwine text, rhythm, gesture, movement, footwork, expression, and props while drawing from her classical training in Bharatanatyam. Ishika is alert to learnable moments, allowing herself to recognize new pathways that lead to different world views…Ishika chooses to actively realize her aspiration, flourishing into a thorough young artist with a unique voice of her own. [She is] a young woman of exceptional talent and creativity with a commitment to shaping more just communities-- It’s truly a rare and powerful combination. I believe Ishika has gone above and beyond in her efforts to understand the world around her and artistically respond to it.”
– Dr. Elizabeth Kurien (teacher, Bharatanatyam - Indian classical dance)
“Ishika is amazing! Over the course of nearly thirty years of teaching, there is only one Ishika. She has earned straight A’s throughout her four years of high school, taking some of our most rigorous AP courses and thriving. She has been a vital part of the high school drama program since she arrived on campus and included the performing arts each academic year. I have had the excellent fortune of having Ishika in AP United States History as an 11th grader (she earned a 5 on the exam) and as a 12th grader currently in AP Art History. I make my tests tougher because she is one of the students earning over 100% on every test.
In addition to class, Ishika is a leader on campus. She has participated in our Interact Club sponsored by Monrovia Rotary all four years at school. As a junior, she was our club President. In truth, she has been my best President in six years of advising this club. Ishika worked to build membership, followed through as a leader for every event, and set a tone of commitment and hard work throughout the year. For her 16th birthday, Ishika asked for donations to Stop Hunger Now, a project Rotary and Interact work together on. Each year our community packs 20,000+ Stop Hunger Now meals to be sent to schools in Latin America. The donation from her birthday money helped set a new record of meals that could be purchased and packaged. Ishika traveled as Rotary’s representative to France last summer and she has been honored by our community as a leader and stellar representative of what Monrovia is most proud of as a community.
Ishika has the respect of every teacher who has ever had her in class – teachers consistently seek me out to say, ‘Do you know about Ishika? She is awesome!’”
– Mrs. Annie Van Dyke (teacher, Interact advisor)
“We talk a lot about the potential of our students at MHS, and in [Ishika's] case, the world ‘limitless’ comes to mind.”
– Mr. Paul Dols (Renaissance coordinator, Renaissance Hall of Fame)
“You are a very unique girl. You have creativity, talent, brains, etc. People like you will run this world, and I know with someone like you running the world, the world will be a beautiful place.”
– Mr. Richard Montenegro (teacher)
“Ishika is an extraordinary young person who began thinking about, caring about and supporting others at the tender young age of 4 when she began volunteering for various nonprofits throughout our community. As the former Mayor of Monrovia, it has been a pleasure to watch Ishika grow in her love of volunteering and her scholastic achievements. A talented actress and singer, Ishika excels theatrically and was recently a lead character in MHS’s production of Tarzan.”
– Mary Ann Lutz (former Mayor of Monrovia)
“You are great, but you know that. You are talented, but you know that. Make sure the world knows! You were a silver lining in a sky of grey clouds. Keep working as hard as you do and whatever you want to do will be your reality.”
– Mr. Anthony Flucker (teacher and director, film and video production)
“You are such an amazing person and you have one of the most beautiful souls. Thank you for being someone I can count on for anything and always having a smile on your face! You are going to be big one day and when I look at everything you have become, I will feel blessed to have been able to work with you.”
– Samantha Avalos (student and stage manager)
“Excellent focus and great self-awareness. Good attention for hand to hand work. Great attitude overall.”
– Jeremy Jackson and Dominic Catrambone (professional actors, stage combat and acting teachers)
“You are one of the most incredible young ladies I have ever met. I am so honored to have been your teacher and experienced your thoughtful intelligence and wonderful performances.”
– Ms. Swava Stengel (teacher)
“You’re so passionate about what you do that I honestly can’t help but feel motivated to do my best. You’re nothing but a kind, beautiful, and hardworking human being.”
– Valeria Munoz (student and cast-mate)
“I can’t wait to see you perform at the Pantages! Thank you for always giving your all and making AP European History an absolute joy to teach.”
– Ms. Natalie Harrison (teacher)
“I am so happy to have had you as a student and to have watched you perform over the years. You have made MHS a better place and now are going to make the world a better place.”
– Mr. Mark Lovers (teacher)
“Your drive to be the best you can be is so inspiring. You are gorgeous both inside and outside.”
– Danielle Duran (student and cast-mate)
“What a creative and fascinating child! It’s rare to meet a naturally creative child. I look forward to meeting her again.”
– Richard Stubbs (songwriter, musician, teacher)
“In recognition of your many and wonderful contributions to the Monrovia High School community, you are hereby commended and honored. You have helped make our world a better place and we appreciate and thank you. Wherever your life adventure takes you in the future, may you always remember your high school days as fondly as you will be remembered by all who had the pleasure of knowing you and benefitting from your unique talents.”
– MHS PTSA
“Ishika, you are so amazing and I am so glad you got those awards. You are so talented and kind and there’s no one more deserving of them than you!”
– Alexa Romero (student and cast-mate, regarding Best Lead Actor and Legacy Award)
“You are such an angel and a star. You are talented and so hardworking. Your passion is so contagious. Beyond grateful that I got the opportunity to work alongside you in so many productions.”
– Alexis Callanta (student and cast-mate)
“You’re such a super star. You brighten up my life with the light you radiate.”
– Thomas Jaime (student and cast-mate)
“You have been one of the best performing and well-rounded students I have encountered in the past 13 years of my teaching career. You have served as a motivation to keep me on top of my game. Your potential is unlimited.”
– Mr. Robert Montes (teacher)
“Very well done, especially your part. I’ve seen the Disney movie before and…the entire drama department did exceptional. I hope every single one of you is offered a job in Hollywood.”
– Ryan Wiles (student, regarding Tarzan)
“You are extremely kind, talented, and beautiful and I can't wait to see where life takes you. It was an honor to be a part of all your hard work [in Rabbit Hole].”
– Mariah Helm (student and cast-mate)
“Having known Ishika for more than ten years, I have observed her grow into a poised and accomplished young woman. She is talented, caring, dedicated and focused in her endeavors. Ishika has superior interpersonal skills and works well independently or in a group setting. She has shown good leadership skills when involved in group projects. She is well liked and respected by her peers and adults.”
– Jenny Pappano (Interact and ACS advisor)
“You are truly one of the most wonderfully weird individuals that I have ever known…Never lose your smile nor your kind spirit…Know your limits – infinity.”
– Mr. Carlos Cuellar (teacher)
“On behalf of the American Cancer Society, we would like to extend our sincere gratitude for your efforts to further our mission statement of Research, Education, Advocacy, and Service. Because of you and millions of other Relay for Life supporters, the American Cancer Society is creating a world with less cancer and more birthdays.”
– American Cancer Society Team