LSTW Meets with Catherine Renaud

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Lez Spread The Word met with Catherine Renaud, actress playing the role of Flavie in Mémoires Vives. Yes, we were really excited to meet her and yes, it was at the height of a gloomy day of stormy weather and the STM network shutdown. Florence, founder of LSTW, is a big fan of all lesbian characters on Quebec television. As for me, I’m a fan of pop culture altogether… Kelly, our photographer from Tou.tv was so cool, an indispensable quality when it’s time to put people at ease for a photo shoot.

We spent over an hour and a half chatting with Catherine. It was such a charming discussion in a relaxed ambiance; we almost began to believe that Catherine was our best friend for life.

We truly discovered an individual who values hard work and who, by playing Flavie, hopes to also charm the lesbian community. Catherine frequently asked us what we thought about the series, looking for ways to perhaps improve her performance.

Still, we reassured her: she is perfect!

Lez Spread The Word met with Catherine Renaud, actress playing the role of Flavie in Mémoires Vives. Yes, we were really excited to meet her and yes, it was at the height of a gloomy day of stormy weather and the STM network shutdown. Florence, founder of LSTW, is a big fan of all lesbian characters on Quebec television. As for me, I’m a fan of pop culture altogether… Kelly, our photographer from Tou.tv was so cool, an indispensable quality when it’s time to put people at ease for a photo shoot.

We spent over an hour and a half chatting with Catherine. It was such a charming discussion in a relaxed ambiance; we almost began to believe that Catherine was our best friend for life.

We truly discovered an individual who values hard work and who, by playing Flavie, hopes to also charm the lesbian community. Catherine frequently asked us what we thought about the series, looking for ways to perhaps improve her performance.

Still, we reassured her: she is perfect!

Personally, I think that what the people from our community love Mémoires Vives is that this is a series that presents a couple comprised of two strong mature women. There’s no question about it: Flavie has always been pretty solid in regards to her sexual identity and from this, stems a very stable relationship with her partner, Julie. It’s a beautiful and refreshing image that steers us away from the clichés of the over-explored “crazy” or “confused” lesbian character.

In fact, Catherine mentions frequently receiving messages from women thanking her for conveying such a healthy image of homosexuality.

Still, no declarations of love from crazed fans yet but rather, messages of gratitude and compliments regarding her work.

An anecdote: when Catherine goes out with a female friend, she sometimes hears people whispering things like “Oh, it must be her girlfriend.” They tend to jump to conclusions very quickly! Not that it aggravates Catherine, though. After all, it’s a good sign when people notice the credibility of her performance. Actually, we feel that she may have a hint of the “imposter syndrome” when she explains that, “if I go the gay pride parade with you, will people think that I am posing for someone I’m not? Posing for Flavie?”

To which we replied that we always need allies. It’s great to see an actress who has a profound understanding of the impact her role has on the public. She adds “with this role, I told myself: we will continue to break down barriers and to show that this is normal.”

Wow, we’ve almost found a spokeswoman!

Actually, how did Catherine become Flavie? As she explains, “I passed an audition, where I had to play somewhat of a psychiatrist and a lesbian.” Catherine has in fact already played a lesbian in Sophie Paquin. Still, with four years in between both series, we cannot therefore presume a cause and effect from the first to her latest role. In the sense that, no, it isn’t because you play a gay role on television once that you are automatically catalogued in the “A + homo” section of the UDA.

We often ask actors who play gay roles how they “prepared” for the role… Catherine explains that, “tons of people around me inspired me and allowed me to play this role authentically.” That’s fairly understandable… in 2014, I think that actors portraying gays have enough examples from within their entourage, at least. Well, ok, Catherine admitted that after obtaining the role of Flavie, she actually spied on a lesbian couple making out in public. WHAT! I prefer to call that simple research.

Also, yes, Catherine has watched The L Word and Féminin/Féminin. “I checked a bunch of stuff, I found myself pretty funny. I had never kissed a girl before Mémoires Vives! I was pretty stressed actually. But you know, I’m all in, when I’m Flavie, I have zero doubt because she is so well-affirmed in regards to her orientation.”

It’s obvious that for Catherine, it was really important to go in 100% in this experience… like a true actress should. Very much in tune with her character’s credibility, she even asked herself if it was too fast for Flavie and Julie to have a baby together. We reassured her that it was quite possible… by explaining the myth of lesbian U-Haul!

In fact, we also “educated” her regarding a few things, like the definition of Gold Star (a lesbian who has never had any experiences with men)… We felt really comfortable with her. As proof, at one point during our conversation, I mentioned that I had pretty much asked all of my questions… Yet, we continued to chat for… 45 minutes!

To conclude, I have no choice but to mention a very cute moment which I found summarized so well the attitude one should have towards actors playing gay roles. Catherine asked us if it bothered us that it’d be “a straight girl playing a lesbian”… She answered her own question by saying: “It all comes down to portraying love, that’s all”… Which we cannot help but agree, with little hearts glowing in our eyes.

By Marie Darsigny

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