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She once lamented the lack of roles for Black actors on Quebec screens. Now she's busier than ever


Actor Veronique Pierre says up until a few years ago, there weren't a lot of roles for Black actors on Quebec screens, but something has changed, and she's busier than she's ever been in her long career.

"Before, I would audition one, two, three times a year. I now audition one, two, three times a week," she says, crediting the change to more directors, producers and writers intentionally casting and writing roles that include diversity.

Pierre says she had dreamed of becoming an actor since the age of 16, although it took some convincing for her Haitian father to accept this was a viable career path. She enrolled in Dawson College's drama program to develop her skills and learn English since she says many of the opportunities for black actors were in English-speaking productions.

With a lack of opportunities at home, she went to Toronto and L.A., where she got work and learned the industry.

"So over a period of 13 years, I tried here and there trying to find my place and I never really truly found it," she said. Soon after, she decided to let her dream go.

When she moved back to Quebec, she became a yoga instructor and was happy with her decision. But then the pandemic hit and she was unable to give classes. A friend told her she should try acting again, but she was reluctant

"Seriously, I was expecting like what, one, two, three roles maybe in the year?" she said. "And my first year back here in Quebec as an actress, I was working more than my first 13 years of career."

Pascal L'Heureux was one of the directors that hired her. "I met her in a colour-blind casting because the role could have been anybody, and the best person with the best timing for that role was her, period.

L'Heureux says there was a real shift in the industry in 2016 to focus more on diversity. That only intensified following the repeated images of George Floyd and Joyce Echaquan's deaths, which he said were a wake-up call.

He says there's still a lot of ground to make up regarding "having more diversity, and good diversity on screen."

Meanwhile, Pierre is enjoying her success and is diversifying her skills to include writing and producing. She's encouraged by the changes in the industry.

"It's not just the colour of the skin, it's age," she says. She says that 20 years ago, she would have been considered well past her prime. But now, the industry is open to different ages and body types.

It's given her the confidence to keep going in what can be an industry full of rejection. And she knows if acting doesn't work out, she can always go back to yoga, though it doesn't appear she will be in that position anytime soon. Top Stories

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