Add the award-winning series Cardinal to the impressive list of film and TV credits for Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs, as the 25-year-old from Kahnawake continues to expand her acting resume. (file photo)
Even getting Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs to slow down long enough to answer questions is a challenge. Screenings, a premiere – social and professional life both are constantly astir ahead of the 25-year-old’s big premiere on the small screen, several months after shooting wrapped in a northern Ontario community.
“I honestly could have worked on that show for years,” Jacobs said.
As of January 24, Jacobs is featured in a six-episode arc on the award-winning investigative drama Cardinal.
The show, now in its third season, premiered in 2017. Based on the novels of crime writer Giles Blunt, the series focuses on two detectives – John Cardinal, played by Billy Campbell, and Lise Delorme, played by Karine Vanasse – who investigate wrongdoings in the city of Algonquin Bay.
Spoiler alert: Don’t read on if you’re a fan of the show!
Jacob’s character, Sam Doucette/Duchene, has an important story arc in the third season of the show.
“Sam is an Anishinaabe arts student and aspiring graphic novel illustrator,” Jacobs explained. “She works at a greasy diner to pay her way through college, and is having an affair with the older married real estate agent, Randall.”
An unfortunate happening, however, shifts Sam’s daily narrative from a mundane to murderous one.
During an elicit hook-up at an empty model home, Jacobs said, Sam bears witness to a “terrifying” double homicide. While fleeing, she drops her phone – and it’s quickly recovered by the faceless murderer.
For the rest of the season, Jacob’s character grapples with intimidation and unsolicited affection from the insidious perp.
“We shot season three in the fall when #MeToo arose, and playing Sam was a tremendously vulnerable and cathartic role to play,” she said.
“I felt influenced by my own life, and by the story – learning to set boundaries and keep a bit of a distance between myself and the character’s experience was a tough but important lesson within this season,” she added.
Since its inception and release, Cardinal has been lauded for its production value and “authentic” feel.
Not only does the show shoot in or near the northern communities where it is set – casting other First Nations actors – but even lead actress Karine Vanasse once remarked that it is the only production where she’s been allowed to play an authentically Quebecoise character, not European like on other sets.
At this year’s Canadian Screen Awards, the show garnered 12 nominations and a total of six wins, including Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Photography, Best Editing, Best Music, and Best Casting.
“This was the first television show that also felt like a feature film,” Jacobs said.
Unlike other television productions Jacobs has worked on, all six episodes of this season of Cardinal were directed by the same person – Daniel “Podz” Grou.
“We were given the room to breathe within our performances,” she said.
“Usually on a TV series, there’s a different director every episode, and your lines need to be delivered quickly – the faster the better,” Jacobs said. “Working with Grou, he relishes the moments between the lines. It was unlike any other TV experience I’ve had.”
Jacobs, however, is no spring chicken when it comes to film and television production. At only 25, she has worked on at least 16 sets – including TV roles on American Gods, Mohawk Girls, Assassin’s Creed: Linage, and was spotlighted as a “rising star” at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.
She’s voiced video game characters, appeared in short films, and even music videos – she starred in two A Tribe Called Red videos.
Although the exact fate of Jacobs’ character is yet to be determined, a fourth season of Cardinal is already in the works – green-lighted even before release of the third.
The show is hotly anticipated by viewers tuning in locally, on CTV, internationally, through networks like BBC and Hulu, as well as in Australia, Germany, Israel, and other Scandinavian countries.
Jacobs’ 12,200 Instagram followers are also anxiously tuned in for a glimpse of post-production snapshots ahead of Thursday’s premiere.
“Sam isn’t perfect – she may be ‘the other woman,’ she lies to her mother about it – but she is also talented, hardworking, and a genuinely good person,” Jacobs said.
“I felt I gave honest performances within it. I’m both excited and nervous for people to watch it.”