Cahuilla teen Isabella Madrigal receives 2020 Heart of Inlandia Award

Inlandia Institute honors teen playwright who addresses violence against indigenous women and girls

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Inlandia Institute proudly names Isabella Madrigal recipient of the 2020 Marion Mitchell-Wilson Heart of Inlandia Award for her outstanding literary and cultural contribution to the Inland Empire. She will be formally recognized during a virtual reception on Saturday, September 5, 2020 at 1 pm. RSVP required:

Isabella Madrigal is an enrolled member of the Cahuilla Band of Indians and of Turtle Mountain Chippewa descent. She is the playwright, director, and actress of Ménil and Her Heart. This year she graduated from the Orange County School of the Arts under the Acting Conservatory and will be headed to Harvard this fall.

Madrigal has spoken at the 2019 United Nations’ Girls Speak Out Event discussing violence against Indigenous women. She and her sister, Sophia Madrigal, are co-founders of the Native Storytelling Project, which supports Native storytellers.

“Ménil and Her Heart” has been boldly and artfully raising awareness for the ongoing crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls for the past couple of years, simultaneously paving the way for other Indigenous artists and storytellers.

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Madrigal casts her play with a multitude of Native friends and family members in response to the disproportionate representation of Indigenous faces and stories within mainstream media and arts.

The play itself unfurls in a flurry of color and imagination while immersing audiences in the reality of the injustices Indigenous women and girls have been facing for centuries. 

Madrigal weaves traditional Cahuilla story and song with breathtaking, otherworldly visuals. Dragonflies and Star Girls light up the dark stage, circling in mystical dance, entrancing viewers with mystery, magic, and tragedy.

An activist in her own right, Madrigal is anything but silent, turning to the arts and her cultural heritage to sing the song that perhaps Ménil herself once sang as torchbearer of understanding and how to live.

Tune in Saturday, September 5, 2020 as Isabella Madrigal, 2020 Heart of Inlandia awardee, accepts her award from Inlandia Institute, as part of Inlandia’s virtual members reception and socially distant pandemic picnic.

Visit Madrigal’s website to learn more about her work:

“I’m so honored to have received the Heart of Inlandia Award. Especially for “Ménil and Her Heart” which is a project and a play that is so close to my heart. Within my community I’ve seen a lot of healing done through storytelling and I think that’s what it all comes down to,” Madrigal says upon winning the award.

This event is free and open to all Inlandia members, donors, volunteers, project partners, and friends.

The Heart of Inlandia Award honors individuals of the Inland region whose work adds exceptional value to the local literary and arts community. This award was established in honor of Inlandia founder Marion Mitchell-Wilson, who was the heart of Inlandia.

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