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.
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,
You can visit my author site:
It was important to create avenues for other LGBTQ+ performers in the hopes of raising awareness around authentic visibility for LGBTQ+ people. A couple of years ago with the encouragement of ACTRA, I spearheaded the LGBTQ+ committee, outACTAto. We are fast at work organizing a number of initiatives, including a short film competition. The winning film will debut at the 30th anniversary of the Inside Out Film Festival in Toronto, 2020. We partnered with Inside Out Film Festival, and hope to make the LGBTQ+ film competition an annual event.
You can also watch the PSA our committee shot and produced by clicking this link: Queer Your Stories.
in 2004 I founded the non-profit, Youth Out Loud. We held annual walks in downtown Toronto, with full day stage events at Dundas Square. The goal was to raise awareness about child abuse and sexual violence. While the non-profit is not actively organizing events at this stage, you can visit the website to learn about the history and browse the art and poetry by youth. There are also some resources listed if anyone should need assistance.
Please visit the site to learn more: Youth Out Loud.
Thank you for visiting.
“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