Montreal native, Ayisha Issa has an impressive resume in the world of entertainment but her new role in NBC’s medical drama, Transplant is something we had to have a conversation about. We caught up with Issa to discuss her role in the hit series, what it’s like being a two-time IBJJF World Champion, her beauty must-haves for the fall season, and more in our exclusive interview.

How did you first get into entertainment?

To be blunt about it. I was working in the hotel industry. I was trying really hard but it really just was not for me. I ended up getting myself fired (laughs). I was told by a friend that realized that could tell I wasn’t happy, ‘Take unemployment and figure out what you want to do.’ I tried that and I couldn’t figure anything out. I was doing a lot of art at the time. I got a random call from someone one day that was trying to place me in a modeling agency. At that point, I really didn’t want to model anymore. I was trying to move away from that and began training jujitsu and it really helped with my body and shape. I checked my message and he asked if I wanted to go to an audition for a big American movie that was coming out. I thought it was some kind of scam (laughs). It just didn’t make sense because I wasn’t an actress. My sister convinced me to go. On my way to the gym, I ended up going to the audition. I really didn’t take it too seriously, but I got the call that I booked the part. From there, I just kept going (laughs).

You are also a two-time IBJJF World Champion. How did you enter into that realm?

Like I said, I did the modeling thing for a while and it really wasn’t working out for me. I met a professional mixed martial arts fighter, who explained the different things that go into mixed martial arts and jujitsu so I thought, maybe its sports that I could get into. I liked that it was more engaging than going to the gym. I went and started kickboxing and the coach encouraged to try a more intensive class and from there, I just kind of watched the guys in there do jujitsu. Again, the coach encouraged me to try this realm. I did and the rest is kind of history.

Do you mind giving us insight into, Transplant?

I play Dr. June Curtis and she is a surgeon in the ER. She is just the kind of person that has spent the time and energy into her career. Being so focused on that, she’s kind of neglected the focus on other areas of her life that are equally important. Throughout the season, you get to understand more about the issues that she faces whether personal or professional. One of the great things about the show is that all the characters all have things to work on as great as they are at their jobs.

Photo by Yan Turcotte/Sphere Media/CTV/NBC

SHEEN Magazine is the Ultimate Beauty Guide for the Modern Day Woman, do you mind sharing your beauty must-have?

My mother owns an aesthetic center in Montreal and I also went to aesthetic school in my 20s. A couple years ago, I certified in lash extensions and micro blading, launching a small business at the time. I had to stop because the gym and my acting career took off. When I think of going back into business, I think something in beauty or fashion would be the way to go. I do my own hair and makeup for my Instagram.

When it comes to hair, I love bentonite clay masks and I make a mix for a deep conditioner using shea butter, apple cider vinegar and molasses under a heat cap. I do that as often as possible and have seen my natural hair grow really fast and stay manageable. 

I also like bentonite and apple cider vinegar as an exfoliant for my skin

For makeup, I try to keep it light and use a small amount of foundation to even my skin tone.  Brow pencil, mascara and a liquid eye liner. Sephora also has these awesome foundation sticks that I use to accentuate my eyelid crease and cheekbones then a good gloss and I’m out the door in about 5 minutes. 

What products have you been loving for the fall season?

Cerave makes great skin care products and I’ll be relying on them a lot for fall because my skin just gets so dry. 

For makeup, I’ll add a bit of blush to my lids to warm up my look and probably braid up my hair.  

Fall for me is all about fashion though 

What are you currently working on and what can we expect to see from you in the future?

I’m currently working on Transplant. Aside from that, in my personal time, I want to get back into training. I’ve been getting back into art and I’m just enjoying my life. I’m grateful for all that I have.

Photo by Yan Turcotte/Sphere Media/CTV/NBC

Tune into Transplant on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

For more on Ayisha Issa, click here.

Stay connected with her by following her on Instagram & Twitter.

All images by Fabiola Bouchereau