Actress Dorly Jean-Louis stops by on Close-Up Culture to chat about her exciting upcoming projects.
Hello Dorly, welcome to Close-Up Culture. I hear you are currently working on a drama-thriller. Can you reveal anything about the project and your role in it?
Thank you so much for having me. Yes, in fact I’m booked on a couple of projects at the moment. I’m co-starring in a new film produced by Reel One Entertainment. I’m playing the role of an editor for a prestigious magazine covering royal news and events. Filming for this romantic film is set to begin later in November.
As you mentioned, I’m also cast on a new controversial drama-thriller series. However, I can’t divulge any details about the project just yet, or my role, because I recently signed an NDA. Of course I will be happy to share more about it once the show premieres on major platforms.
You also recently wrapped a supporting role on the romantic film Wedding Wars, which will be released next year. How was your experience working on that project?
Well, I was so excited to get the call that I had booked a supporting role. In this film I play Julia, the owner of a beautiful wedding venue who gets entangled between two frenemies scheming for the same wedding reservations while desperately trying to save her business from bankruptcy. By the way, I recently found out that the name of the film has officially been changed from Wedding Wars to May The Best Wedding Win. Trust me, the switch is a surprise to me as well.
This was the first time that I worked with film director John Bradshaw. He had a great sense of humor and was very open to my suggestions. I’m a perfectionist so he indulged me when I requested to do another take. I was actually sad when I got picture wrapped! The long days on set really didn’t feel like work at all. I wanted to continue hanging out with my fellow talented co-stars: Alys Crocker who plays Tiffany, Cody Ray Thompson who plays Nick, Julie Nolke who plays Amber and David William Pinard who plays Daniel. Overall this was one of my favorite productions to work on this year.
You are trilingual and I saw you recently got to work on a French production, called ZIK. Can you tell us about that exciting opportunity?
The French television series ZIK is a show that explores the world of music, its history and culture, with humorous and entertaining skits. For me it’s been a joy and a pleasure to work with a creative team in my mother tongue. Majority of the film and television projects I work on are in English. I had originally auditioned for a lead role for this series. I was ecstatic when the producer and director offered me a recurring role where I got to play a variety of different fun characters, from a psychic to channeling Beyonce Knowles making an appearance at a celebrity game show.
The first season of ZIK wrapped last Fall but in January of this year I received another surprise. I was asked to narrate scripts for 8 episodes of the show. Of course I said yes! Pre-production of Season 2 is officially underway and I’m already looking forward to bringing new characters to life for your viewing pleasure.
I understand your interest in acting started at a young age. What is the first movie you remember falling in love with?
Like a lot of kids I was obsessed with the classic 1950’s Disney cartoon Cinderella. I was mesmerized by the gowns, the magic and of course the glass slippers. I used to pretend I was a little princess and a fairy godmother would visit me before I go to bed and transform my little closet with beautiful gowns, clothes, a tiara and beautiful jewels.
You started out interning at CTV News as an editorial assistant. What are your memories of that time and how has that grounding helped you in the entertainment industry?
Still in College at the time, I was so thrilled to create for such a big media outlet. I was quite naive though. I remember going to the cafeteria on my first day and the sweetest lady, who reminded me of my mom, gave me a hug and the warmest greeting after I explained I had a placement to work in the newsroom. The entire staff at the counter also greeted me with big smiles, the warmest welcome I’d received by a group of strangers in a long time.
Before I left she said something I would never forget: “remember this”, holding her arm out and pointing to it. I didn’t get what she meant at first. It took me a few seconds. I looked back at the staff, some of them still smiling at me and then I understood. The entire kitchen help was black. Everyone else seated, being served, was white. The same visual I had seen over and over again in old Hollywood movies. Yet here I was standing in the middle of that double standard. Her pointing at the color of her skin was a caution for me to recognize the system of hierarchy. No matter how good I am, how well I do or where I’m placed in this company the color of my skin would always be a precedent. I thanked her for her advice and the reality check.
As an editorial assistant my job was to tell the story. To research who, when, what, where and how. These were the questions our viewers needed answered at the 6 o’clock breaking news. The producer at the assignment desk was Ron de Roo. Overtime he trusted my skills as a writer and initiated for me to cover stories in person with a cameraman. Just like that, I filled the shoes of a reporter. This actually raised a few eyebrows but he didn’t seem to care. So I learned early on that it only takes one person behind you to trust in your abilities and talent to help you grow and advance. I can’t tell you how satisfying it was to hear the news anchors read the slugs I wrote word for word to the point where I was reciting it along with them as they read it live on-air. This was my gratifying confirmation of a job well done.
As an actor, if I’m not familiar with a show I obviously need to find out the type of project I’ll be working on. Is it a sitcom, comedy, thriller or drama? I also examine the tone and pace of storytelling by researching the production team involved. I review the trailers or familiarize myself with a few episodes of the show or film prequel. This homework helps accumulate basic information I can use in preparation for the role. When I receive a script I also go beyond the words on the pages. I look for the mini story, the nuances and non-verbal cues, all of which help me bring a believable character to life.
What type of roles and projects would you love to take on in the future?
I’m open to a variety of work opportunities. I’m not limiting myself because I know sometimes it only takes one project to help propel your career further. I often audition for roles that are professional in nature: business owner, CEO, doctor, news anchor, lawyer and the like. I would love to lead in a drama series, a romantic film or even a sitcom.
Lately I’ve also been inspired by Jennifer Hudson who has her own talk show on Fox 11. I could totally see myself having a ball interviewing guests on my own daytime show. There’s no limit. Ask, manifest and I shall receive.
What are your plans and ambitions for the future?
I’m in it for the long haul. I’m open to work opportunities not just here in Canada but internationally as well. My long-term goal is to be an accomplished actress.
Connect With Dorly:
Photo Credits: Deejay Lowe Photography and David Chang Photography