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Big Move for Quebec Actor, 10.02.00 ...

Yanic Truesdale has the grin of one cool cat that's just swallowed a canary. With good reason. Four years ago, the 30-year-old Quebec actor lost his job when Radio-Canada canceled the acclaimed French-language television series Majeurs et Vaccines. In frustration, Truesdale decided to prove himself in the U.S.

The gamble paid off. Truesdale makes his English-language TV debut in Gilmore Girls, the one-hour American-made drama series that premieres Friday. It stars Lauren Graham as the headstrong manager of a rustic inn in Connecticut and Alexis Bledel as her willful teenage daughter.

Truesdale is cast as Pierre, the concierge at the inn. "My character is very arrogant, very pretentious, and extremely intolerant."

He could scarcely contain his delight during an interview over coffee in Montreal last week. "The writing for the show is so good. The script is cutting edge, totally, totally really on the edge. It's not a cute show; it's sarcastic."

An only child, Truesdale was born in Montreal and raised by his mother and grandmother in Outremont. He didn't start to learn English until he was 16, but "a part of me grew up watching American movies.

"Since I was a kid I always dreamed of leaving for L.A. or New York. My dad's from New York, so I have dual citizenship."

Truesdale began his career when he was 18 as an arts reporter for Radio-Canada and then moved on to roles on Watatatow, Jamais Deux Sans Toi, Graffiti, and Majeurs et Vaccines. When the latter was canceled in 1996 after one season, Truesdale vowed to move on.

"Very limited for a black actor"

"The cancellation was so absurd. So tedious. So Canadian. The show won awards for best series, best script, and I got a Gemeaux nomination as best actor, and Radio-Canada canceled it. Being without a job opened a window of opportunity for me. It made me take stock of my situation and made me realize what I was in for if I stayed here.

"I learned a lot, and worked with a lot of talented people, but let's face it - I'm black. Quebec is very limited for a black actor."

So, Truesdale moved to New York and studied for one year at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. He lost the last vestiges of his French-Canadian accent, then took off for Los Angeles.

For a year he struggled to find an agent. He also fought to be noticed. "L.A. is a very strange city, with lots of strange people that are career-minded, a lot of people are there for the wrong reasons," he said. "It's a tough town to get to know people.

His experience in Quebec didn't impress anyone. "As far as they were concerned, I was a nobody. Any of the shows I did for Radio-Canada, they didn't know. I never realized that moving to California would mean starting from scratch."

He auditioned for the Gilmore part and was called back five times. "The stress was incredible. When I learned I got the part I cried. I called my mom in the Laurentians, and I cried."

Truesdale is under no illusions that he's hit the big time. Only five episodes of The Gilmore Girls have been shot. And even if the show is successful, it is threatened by an American entertainment-industry strike in the spring that might bring series production to a grinding halt.

But Truesdale says his future is now in the United States. "After all the effort and energy I put into making it in L.A., there's no point in coming back to Montreal," he said. "To be a skilled regular in L.A. is a big deal. With The Gilmore Girls, I am now in a category that at least allows me to have a chance at bigger jobs."

He paused, took a sip of his coffee, then added, "When you are an actor, you never know what the next job is going to be, or if there'll be a next job unless of course you are Robert De Niro."
Credit: Montreal Gazette

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