Isabela Merced Has a Trick to Keep Herself Off Her Phone

There is busy, and then there is Isabela Merced.

On an afternoon last month in Los Angeles, the actress — who had just returned from Vancouver, where she was learning to ride horses for a role in Season 2 of HBO’s postapocalyptic survival drama “The Last of Us” — was preparing to meet Vice President Kamala Harris that night, while also doing this interview and, as an alarm that went off in the middle of the phone call revealed, laundry.

“It’s a work in progress: I know how to get on the horse and not panic, and that’s about it,” said Merced, 22, who made her Broadway debut in “Evita” when she was 10 and is now known for her roles in “Transformers: The Last Knight” and “Dora and the Lost City of Gold.”

“The Last of Us” is one of half a dozen film and TV projects she has lined up for the next few years, among them “Madame Web,” the newly released Spider-Man spinoff in which she plays Anya Corazon, better known as Spider-Girl in the Marvel Comics.

Also on her film slate: the lead role in the long-awaited adaptation of John Green’s young adult novel “Turtles All the Way Down”; a starring role in “Alien: Romulus” (due out in August); and Hawkgirl in “Superman: Legacy.”

How does she balance it all?

“I’m going to have to practice meditation a little bit more than I have,” she said.

In a conversation from her family’s home, where she lives with her mother and her younger brother, Merced shared how sound baths keep her centered, the secret to her mother’s “unmatched” chicken estofado, and why she always has Legos on hand. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

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