Beginnings. And the road traveled.
I began entertaining as a child in the sound recording studio in Montreal for Sesame Street. Tap dancing was my first love, and I spent many years performing in my tap shoes. I transitioning to the stage, television, and film as an actor in my teens.
Social justice and equity issues were important to me in my youth. I joined a theatre troop that created
original content about racism, sexism, homophobia,
and global conditions for youth affected by war and
power. It was in my younger years that I developed a
sense of justice and the desire for equity.
It would take many more years for me to come out and to understand that misogyny and homophobia would impact my career in ways I could not have predicted, but I was filled with hope, believed that feminism and knowledge would influence the film industry, the stage, arts, the world. I was naïve. Thankfully. Hope mattered.
My career blossomed in Canada as a film
and television actor. I won an Emmy
for Maggie’s Secret, directed by Al Waxman
when I was twenty-one. I was nominated
for a Gemini for a continuing role in the CBC
series, 9B. And later, would meet and work
with friend and Oscar winning filmmaker,
Denys Arcand, and work with him in a few of his films
including, Love and Human Remains, and Stardom.
I was nominated for Genie for my work as Jerri in
Love and Human Remains.
It was during those years that my desire for LGBTQ reflection and equity became much more pronounced and part of my work. Being a lesbian and gendered differently would change the way I experienced working in the film industry. At the time I could not move to LA, though it seemed I likely would have excelled in a career in Hollywood, but I understood the deep-seated roots of homophobia and sexism, experienced a type of physical reaction that made me choose Canada. It was the 90s, no one was out as lesbian in Hollywood and the world wasn’t ready for LGBTQ people in film. I suppose it still isn’t, though it’s changing.
I tried to use my activism in casting rooms, with agents, in wardrobe rooms, with writers, producers and directors, trying to get them to expand their thinking and to create roles for women like myself. It didn’t really work, but sometimes, sometimes the pendulum would move ever so slightly, and I would be hired for roles that were written for men, or would win small victories in my battles with people who had much more power than me.
It was later that I was hired to play Dr. Naadiah in, Being Erica, and met Aaron Martin and Jana Sinyor, who supported and celebrated my identity as a lesbian, and eventually shaped the role to reflect that.
Martin also wrote a part for me in his show
Slasher: Guilty Party, as Renee, on Netflix. Season 3, Slasher Solstice airing on Netflix, May 23rd, 2019.
Bruce Smith recently hired me for a
nonbinary character in CBCs, Street Legal, the reboot. Sadly,
it was n't picked up for a second season but it was a pleasure
to work with the cast and crew and to play a non-binary character.
I made a decision early in my career to come out and to express my gender in a way that felt authentic. As someone who does not pass for heterosexual, does not wear skirts or dresses, and does not fit into the confining stereotype of ‘woman’ or heterosexual, it would be a much harder path as an actor. I now identify as nonbinary. It is who I am.
I am older and wiser and dedicated to using my life, career, writing, and activism, to being part of a larger community of artists and thinkers and will work to create content that reflects a more diverse and truthful image of who we are as people.
I have since written a memoir, All We Knew But Couldn’t Say,
being published by Dundurn Press on the 1st of June, 2019,
Book Launch is on June 8th, 2019, at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre,
7- 10 p.m. in Toronto. Hosted by the brilliant, Maggie Cassella, with musical guest,
Lorraine Segato. A small percentage of the sales from the launch is being
donated to the Two Spirit Renewal programme at Shining Mountains Living
Communities Services in Red Deer, Alberta, a project being funded by
We're Funny That Way Foundation. For more info on the foundation and the
organization, please visit: WFTW
For a number of years, friend and colleague, David Gale, at ACTRA kept bugging me to start an LGBTQ+ committee in the union. I finally did get the committee off the ground and am the chair of outACTRAto, the first LGBTQ+ performers committee in our union. Please visit our link to learn about our initiatives, including our presence at PRIDE Toronto, and a forum/workshop at the fall and winter conferences, with the goal of spreading awareness about LGBTQ+ performers lives, and how we can improve conditions for queer performers. We want to encourage producers, directors, and writers, to create more LGBTQ content. Spread the word, and check out our page at ACTRA here!: LGBTQ+ ACTRA Toronto committee.
I also finished writing an LGBTQ pilot currently titled, Fairies and Dykes, co-created with my pal Richard Jutras.
I'm looking to create more and more content through screenplays and books.
I may not be as naïve anymore but I still have hope, and believe the future is bright.
“When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.” -Audre Lorde