Zlín Film Festival Youngstar Devery Jacobs
Devery Jacobs is a film and television actress, born and raised on the Mohawk reservation of Kahnawà:ke, QC. She is known for her leading role as Aila in the award winning feature film Rhymes for Young Ghouls (2013), in which she was nominated for Best Actress at the 2014 Canadian Screen Awards. Devery is recognizable as the recurring role of Lollipop in APTN’s Mohawk Girls, and as the voice of Sam in video game The Walking Dead: Michonne (2016). In addition to The Sun At Midnight, her upcoming projects include the supporting roles in feature film, The Land of Rock and Gold, and web series, Cold. Devery is a honour guest of Zlín Film Festival 2017 as a delegation to The Sun at Midnight together with the director Kirsten Carthew.
Interview with Devery Jacobs
How did you get to acting? I can see your first film acting experience was already in 2007 when you were 14. You were a teenager Did you enjoy it at that time? What kind of a teenager were you? Did you identify with Lia from The Sun at Midnight?
I first got into acting by doing a summer theatre program when I was 7 years old on my reservation, called the Turtle Island Theatre Company. I played a munchkin in The Wizard of Oz, and I absolutely fell in love with performing. My mom knew how much I loved to act and submitted me to my acting agency when I was ten, and I begged her to drive me to auditions. My first professional role was when I was 13 (ten years ago). My love for acting and film has always been the one constant in my life. I was a pretty driven teenager. I had my short-lived rebellious moments, but I was nothing like Lia! It was really fun to play that character, who is so different from myself. I do think that having teenage sisters helped me in shaping Lia’s angst-y attitude in the beginning of the film.
You come from the Mohawk reservation of Kahnawà:ke. Your whole name is Kawennahere Devery Jacobs. Can you please tell us more about your nation and about your name?
I was born and raised in Kahnawake, which is a Mohawk reserve in Quebec. It’s a really politically charged environment, and I grew up surrounded by activists and the “Mohawk Warrior Society.” My upbringing in Kahnawake and my community fuelled my passion for Indigenous rights and culture. Though most people call me Devery, my first name (and name that my family and close friends call me) is Kawennáhere. It was given to me by my Tóta (grandmother) and translates to “her word is above,” which basically means that what I have to say is important. It’s a big name to live up to, and hopefully through my acting and filmmaking, I am doing just that.
Devery, you are already known to the Zlín public with your great film Rhymes for Young Ghouls. This was quite a hard drama. How do you remember this film. How important was in your career?
In the fall, it will be five years since we’ve shot Rhymes for Young Ghouls. This was a career-changing project for me. Previously to the castings for it, I had almost given up on acting. There were too few roles and I was finding it extremely difficult and unrealistic to make a career out of acting. It was such a special project, it was my first time in a leading role and I will always be grateful to the director, Jeff Barnaby for casting me as the character Aila. I doubt I would have had the skillset for The Sun at Midnight had it not been for Rhymes.
Did you like working with Duane? What´s he like?
Working with Duane was incredible. The relationship that you see on screen was what it was really like to work with him. Thankfully to our director, Kirsten, we filmed almost everything chronologically, so as the relationship between Duane and myself developed, so did Lia and Alfred’s. Working in those northern conditions was difficult, but it really assisted in bringing us really close together as actors and friends.
Do you remember any scene that was really difficult for you?
The final scene of the movie was INCREDIBLY cold, and we were fighting against a setting sun. We had to appear serene and happy at the end of the whole journey, when actually we were FREEZING and had to force ourselves to stop shivering! Luckily, you can’t even tell in the final product.
What are your plans? Do you have any dream on film or a theatre?
I have recently explored the other side of the camera as a writer and director, and have completed my second short film. I love making movies, in front and behind the camera, and it is my dream to constantly and consistently work as an actor and filmmaker for the rest of my life, telling stories that I’m passionate about.