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Vincent Schilling
Indian Country Today

The 16-year-old Isaac Arellanes, Hopi Coyote Clan, can hardly believe he was nominated for a daytime Emmy for his role as Ruben Reyna in the Apple TV series “Ghostwriter.” 

He says the nomination has "blown his mind."

Arellanes was at the gym when one of his fellow actors, Justin Sanchez, told him. He says he is still in shock before he walks the red carpet to the Daytime Emmys on Sunday.

“Justin called me, he was like, ‘Yo, what’s good? Have you heard the news?’ And I'm like, ‘What news?’ And he's like, ‘Look at your Instagram, you got nominated for an Emmy!’ I was like, ‘What? At first I thought he was just messing with me, but he wasn't. I was in complete awe because I didn't fully understand,” Arellanes told Indian Country Today.

Ghostwriter — Official Trailer | Apple TV+

With his nomination, the teenager has ventured into a lot of unexplored territory for a young Indigenous actor. He is the first ever acknowledged Native American Daytime Emmy nominated actor in the younger programming category for his character, Ruben Reyna.

Arellanes joins Tyler Christopher in the distinction of Native nominated actors.

In 2016, Tyler Christopher, Choctaw and Seneca descent, won a Daytime Emmy for his role as Nikolas Cassadine on the ABC daytime drama General Hospital. He had been nominated three times before, and his fourth nomination garnered him the win.

Arellanes’ win is one of 29 Daytime Emmys garnered this year for Apple TV+, which also received 25 combined nominations for such productions as “Long Way Up," “Ghostwriter,” “Helpsters,” “Stillwater,” “Helpsters Help You” and “Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth.”

Arellanes is nominated for Outstanding Younger Performer in a Daytime Fiction Program. The Emmy-winning show also has received nine nominations.

Arellanes began his acting career at age nine, booking a guest starring role in NBC’s “The Nightshift.” Other roles include the SY-FY Network’s "Cucuy: The Boogeyman" and then he portrayed the role of Daniel in the HBO series, “Euphoria.” His most recognized role is for two seasons in “Ghostwriter” and his latest is in the Netflix feature, “Blue Miracle” with Dennis Quaid and Jimmy Gonzales.

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Arellanes says the process of getting the part on “Ghostwriter” was a wild one with several reads and different scenarios, and before he knew it, he was whisked off to Canada for nine months to play the part of Ruben. The long days, learning lines, long shoots and more he says wasn’t easy, but he buckled down, stayed focused and got it done.


Arellanes is excited to have been nominated, but he says he wants to stay grounded, and respects the fact that the Emmy nomination will bring notice and opportunity to his career as an actor, but it will also bring responsibility as an influencer in a world of social media interaction.

“Everybody wants to be an influencer, but some of them don't know why. Everybody wants to influence everyone. Everybody wants to be famous. But a lot of people don't even know what and how they're going to influence people. I want to be able to reach out to people that are weeping, that genuinely are hurting. And then the people that don't know what they're going to do with their life … you don't have to be an influencer to feel successful if you're serving people in different ways,” says Arellanes. “It really is just all about perspective. I just want to be able to reach the people that are confused. And first of all, let them know that they're not alone at all.”

Arellanes says success is in anyone’s reach, they just don’t ever need to give up.

But mostly, at least at this point, Arellanes says he is floored to have received a Daytime Emmy nomination, something that he will have the distinction of having for the rest of his life.

“I am so excited to be an Emmy-nominated Indigenous actor. It's literally in the books. The first daytime Emmy nominated Indigenous actor [in the younger category,] Isaac Arellanes, 16-years-old. Boom, drop the mic. I don't even understand it. It still leaves me speechless every time I say it.”

Though Arellanes didn't take home the Daytime Emmy on Sunday, he says he is "excited for more to come" in his early career as an actor. 

“Ghostwriter” is now available on AppleTV+

Check out Isaac Arellanes on IMDb -

Check out Isaac Arellanes on Instagram - IsaacArellanes_Official

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Correction: Isaac Arellanes was listed as the first Native Daytime Emmy nominee. For clarification, Arellanes is the first Native Emmy nominee in the Children's/Younger Performer category.