Actress Sandra Leclercq Interviews with Riveting Riffs Magazine and Joe Montague
Riveting Riffs Logo One French Actress Sandra Leclercq
Sandra Leclercq Interview Photo One

Sandra Leclercq is an actress, playwright and screenwriter from France, with a green card for the United States and she had a puppet flirt with her recently, she designed a support chair to enable a young man with disabilities to compete in an Iron Man competition and she has travelled back in time from a women’s dominated society, 1,000 years into the future. Just to round things out she also used to be a tennis coach. Recently, Sandra Leclercq was our guest at Riveting Riffs Magazine, and we have become big fans of this delightful and fun lady.

We asked her how it felt to have a puppet flirt with her, “It felt really good!” she says laughing. Sandra Leclercq Photo Two

We were of course talking about her voiceover work for a French advertisement for Spotify and Sandra Leclercq was the voice for the female puppet.

I really love it (voiceover). It is really interesting. Even when I audition for animated movies or things like that, I like to have the picture of the character and to see what the animated version looks like. If it is an animal what kind of animal is it? Even when you are just using your voice, you are still acting. I think if it is TV, theater or voiceover in my opinion it is still the same, it is acting.

I did an audition before, but this was the first time that I recorded something that I booked.

I looked at the puppet and I loved it. It was very technical to have my mouth in rhythm and moving at the same time as the puppet.”

Two years ago, Sandra Leclercq starred in the short film Miss You Dad, which was shot in the United States. It was a result of her very first audition in America.

“When I was first contacted for the audition I was in France and I told the casting director, sorry I can’t be there. I can’t go back to New York, because I had just returned from ten days of vacation there. (Some time passed) and I sent an email saying I hope you found your cast and if not, I am back to New York. She contacted me and said I would like to see you in an audition. That was a really good audition, and I booked the part.

We started doing some rehearsals with Byron Chlohessy (the father) and Annee Agnello who was playing the child. The reviews were good and interesting. The shooting was done in Connecticut. All of us stayed in the same house for four days. It was a really good (thing) with us being together all of the time, except Annee who was with her grandma in a hotel. All day long there was Byron, me and Anne. We were laughing a lot and making jokes. We were building intimacy within the family (that would be portrayed on screen).

The way the director Neera Zaveri worked with Annee was really smart, because she never said to her what was going on in the movie (sensitive material), so she really kept the innocence of the child in the movie. Annee didn’t know what it was about. It was really well done, and you can really feel that in the movie.”

Editor’s note: The film deals with a child’s painful memories being triggered when her father dies, about how both her parents destroyed her innocence.

Continuing to talk about the film, Sandra Leclercq says, “My character, the mother was a really complex character. I enjoyed working on the film. One day I talked to Neera Zaveri, before shooting a scene and I said to her why did you decide to talk about this topic? Where does it come from? She said, I have encountered this a lot in rich families where this kind of situation exists. Nobody says anything, because you have to preserve the reputation of the family. You can’t talk, because if you do you will ruin the image of the family.

When she said that to me, I received a new level of understanding. The moment my character decided not to call the police, as a witness to what was going on in my house, I wanted her to be a tragic character. Wow! What are you doing with this choice you are making? It is so tragic. She was a really interesting character.”

Two young actresses played the part of Ava. The younger Ava was played by Annee Agnello and the older Ava was played by actress Kathryn Anne-Marie.  

“Neera Zaveri (the director) cast the child first, so that was Annee Agnello. Once she found her then she cast the parents to make it into a real family. After that was when she cast the older version of Ava.

We got great feedback about this movie. We were at the Female Eye Film Festival Toronto 2020,” she says.  

One can never accuse Sandra Leclercq of portraying boring characters and perhaps one of her more intriguing projects was Dona Juane, which happened early in her career. It was play that involved a role reversal of sorts and drew its inspiration from Molière’s story about Don Juan.

“This play was the last theatrical creation that we did with my (theater) company. It was a beautiful play, and it was the final (result) of all the research that we did and the experimentation. We took the Don Juan of Molière and we changed the sex in the play to talk about the condition of women. Instead of having Don Juan we had Dona Juane. It was called Dona Juane – Le Match.

It was about how to be a woman. She experimented (several) times in her life. She did not believe in God and she had all of the drama of Don Juan.

We brought it into a match, and we divided the audience in two. One part of the audience was supporting the views of Dona Juane, which meant to just experiment with what life brought to you or you could decide to go with the other team, and they supported all of the other characters in the play.

It was interesting to take this play (directed by Cyril Boccara) from the 17th century and keeping the text of Molière, but we brought it into a contemporary context. During the match the audience could talk and ask questions. There was a battle of views between the two teams,” Sandra Leclercq explains. Sandra Leclercq Photo Three

Dona Juane – Let Match was also a France National Tour production.

Before we talk about some of your other acting endeavors let us take a step back and find out where and when this all began.

“My closest family are my parents and two brothers. There were no creative people like artists or actors who influenced me. Some of my cousins were really good at sports at the national or international levels, but nobody was in the arts. I am really athletic. I was a tennis coach. I used to play tennis five days per week.

When I was about twelve years old, I went to acting classes once each week and (the focus) was on theater. We worked on improv. The teacher asked me to present myself, while I was playing tennis. He didn’t know that I played tennis. I remember exactly when and what I did. Something really strange happened. I was there in front of him, but as soon as I started it was like there was a 3D sphere around me. It was like I was in my tennis court, doing my stuff and I knew exactly what I was doing with my backhand and my forehand, while I was presenting myself. It was really like something magical.

When I was fifteen, I was in school and it was difficult for me at that time. During lunchtime there was an acting theater class, and I went there, and I remembered that was the only time during my week that I enjoyed. When I was on stage those were the only moments that I felt free. I felt safe.

I know that sounds funny, because for me it is really natural. It is the only space where I know I can start, and I can do everything. I am not afraid of being judged. It is like I unlock something within myself,” she says.

Continuing Sandra Leclercq says, “After I received my diploma for high school I went to this full acting school. The first year I did my first audition, and I was only seventeen years old. The teacher said you have to audition and it’s important. I auditioned, I came home, and my mom said I just heard on the radio that they are looking for teenagers for a new TV show. I thought maybe I can do it. I just had got my new headshot; I made my resume and then I did the audition. It was a really long audition, because it was four or five rounds, and it was a national audition for Belgium too. I got the job. It was my first experience as a professional. That was for a TV show.

It was a really good experience. It was a docudrama in France. Everyday we were using improv to act. They based the story on what we did during the day. Before we shot the scenes, we were coached by the director. We had an interview with him, and he would tell us the goal of the scene. Then we would go and do the improvisation. Sandra Leclercq Photo Four

After that it was pretty complicated for me, because at that time and I hope it is not still like this in France, but the (thinking was) if you do TV, you only do TV. If you do cinema you only do cinema. TV is in the shadow of the cinema. If you did TV, you didn’t do theater. With theater you either did private or public theater. Everything was super divided like this.

When I came back to my school after two and one-half months of shooting my teacher was really hard on me. He said to me, okay you are doing TV, good for you. It was like, no you made your choice. For me at 18 years old it was very difficult.

I continued in school for two more years and at the end of school I started to audition for theater. I worked with one company and from this work I created my own company with a director. I only did theater, while I was in France.”

As for the France National Tour of Temps De Femmes, which was also directed by Cyril Boccara, she says, “This is a one-woman play, and it takes place 1,000 years from now. It is a women’s world, and she wants to improve the conditions for men. She travels into the past through plays and through various centuries and authors. They see that (in the past) the men were doing things to women and it was not good for them. They were asking what should we do, should we free the men or not? We did a draft and then we put it on stage, and we experimented with it. This is the way we built all of our projects.”

In 2013 Sandra Leclercq appeared in the film The Finishers a movie about a young man who wants to compete in an Iron Man competition.

“I remember the audition very well and it was also really good with the casting director. I did several different characters, and I booked the job. The shooting took place in the south of France, because it was about the Iron Man that happened in Nice. This film is beautiful, and I like the work of Nils Tavernier (director). I like the opening of the movie with the mountains and with all the swimmers in the ocean.

The character that I played, Lucy, is an occupational therapist and she is the person who made the supporting chair, so he (the character with the disability) could do the Iron Man,” she says.  

The future is now for Sandra Leclercq and with her green card for the United States in hand, she appears ready to embrace new opportunities in America and the American film industry seems poised to embrace her as well. Although, she was approved for her green card in 2017, it took until the end of 2019, before she actually received the green card.

“I am so happy to have it. I got my green card, because it was my desire to go to the United States and to work there. I was feeling limited in France. I did a lot of research and I found online the testimony of a girl who had experience as an actress in New York, London and Paris and when she described New York, I thought oh my god this is the culture of actors. I thought I really need to go there.

I got some representation, and I booked my first audition with my manager and it was a commercial. I booked independent short films and student films and I am really happy about how things are going,” she says.

As for the future, “I want to learn new ways of acting that are different in the United States than they are in Europe. In the United States, if you book a commercial or TV or movies, you are working. They never say oh you did a commercial, this is bad, you will never do a feature film. This is what is really good in America. In America they say yes, it is good to work and it is good to be ambitious.

I am also writing, because the current time (pandemic) gives you this opportunity. I am writing two projects that I would like to do next year in America. Also, with Neera we are writing a new project that we would like to shoot next year too. (These are film projects)

It feels weird to say where I am based. I feel like I can jump onto a flight and go anywhere to work, and this is what I want to do,” says Sandra Leclercq.

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This interview by Joe Montague  published December 22nd 2020 is protected by copyright © and is the property of Riveting Riffs Magazine All Rights Reserved.  All photos are the the property of Sandra Leclercq unless otherwise noted and all  are protected by copyright © All Rights Reserved. This interview may not be reproduced in print or on the internet or through any other means without the written permission of Riveting Riffs Magazine.