Reel Women: Actor, writer, producer Sylvie Sadarnac

Sylvie Sadarnac
Sylvie Sadarnac

Editor’s Note: Five years ago we had an idea. Being a woman-owned publication, it made sense to celebrate women who were making a difference in the industries we cover. So, we started a feature for Women’s History Month called “Reel Women.” Over the last four years, we have gotten to know leaders, mentors and visionaries from a variety of creative industries. This is our 5th Annual REEL WOMEN. For the month of March, let us introduce you to some very special women like actor, writer, producer, Sylvie Sadarnac.

Sylvie Sadarnac is an actor, writer, producer who made the jump into TV and film work in her mid-fifties after a career in corporate communications and public relations. Sylvie has appeared in television and film, as well as commercials and industrial videos. She was cast in Steven Conrad’s Amazon series Patriot in the recurring role of detective Lucie Prum-Waltzing, a series available for viewing on Prime. She returned to the theater to create the part of Grainne in Lured: the Curse of Swans for the Right Brain Project. Most recently, Sylvie was Simone Duval in Daniel Nearing’s Sister Carrie, which premiered this past December at the Gene Siskel Center. This month, Sylvie’s short film RIP was part of the line up of films shown at the Patrick Lives On film showcase.

Let’s meet Sylvie.

What’s your origin story?

I grew up in a family where all the arts loomed large — not necessarily as a profession, mind you, but definitely as part of a complete education. Piano and ballet were both critical to my sister’s and my education. My mother was an amateur painter, who retired early from teaching to dedicate herself to painting full-time. I started veering toward theater in high school, and it was like finding my true home, where I belonged. But I took a decades-long break from the performing arts (to go into corporate communications and PR) to earn a “regular” living and raise a family. Something, however, was missing from my life. My first foray back into the creative fields was to enroll in the comedy writing program at Second City: I went through fifteen months of writing, moving through each level steadily, and graduating with a public sketch show that I helped write and produce. I made life-long friends there, and also got invited into a private writing studio, my first one, and one that I still hold dear to my heart. 

How did you get into the TV and film industry?

I had a friend from my PR days who started doing background on Chicago Fire, which had started filming in town. I was intrigued, and jumped at the opportunity to be on set. And I found out that I loved it. I loved the process, how long it took, how fascinating it was to create a scene. I learned the terminology of a set, how to move on set, and it gave me the impetus to go back to school to be a screen actor I took classes, coached privately, and after a while, got booked as Lucie Prum-Waltzing on a new Amazon Series by Steve Conrad called Patriot. It was the most incredible experience of my third chapter life so far, and one that confirmed that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Who were your mentors?

I have gained strength from a variety of people along the way, starting way back when I was 16 with my great-uncle, who told me to follow my gut and my dreams and drown out the naysayers. Most recently, I have looked up to Brittani Ward, who has been not only an incredible teacher but also has encouraged me to go for it, and Jen Bosworth-Ramirez, actor and writer extraordinaire, who is always there to reassure me, push me forward, and overall support me wholeheartedly. And my scripts wouldn’t have the tight structure they have without the coaching of Mary Ruth Clarke, who has become a favorite screenwriting mentor. 

While there will be others, what do you consider your biggest achievement to date?

Writing, producing and acting in my first short film, RIP is definitely up there on the achievement ladder. It took months to write, to develop a budget, to partner with the right creatives, etc. I was fortunate to be able to have Patricia Frontain on board as my director, and most of our crew worked on my short because of her. It was a tremendous experience.

What drives you to create?

An insatiable need to tell stories, and not just acting or writing. I take photos every day to remind myself that there is beauty everywhere, if we take the time to look. And I share those photos on social media to lift people’s spirits.

Award you crave, but haven’t won?

I am more interested in having my storytelling resonate with an audience than specific awards per se. Now, don’t get me wrong, being recognized is wonderful, and also helpful to get the next project off the ground. There are a few awards that I would love to get, but it’s about the work first, for me, and how it affects people. 

What shows/movies/songs are doing the best job of portraying strong women on TV?

Thankfully more and more are doing so. I am very fond of the women of Bosch, for example. They are young and old, smart and multi-layered, and overall exciting to watch. And Frances McDormand in Three Billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri remains a favorite strong woman who fights through her pain for justice.

Is there still a boys club in your industry?

That’s a trick question, right? Yes, of course, there is. But the difference for me now, in my third chapter, is that as I get older I get bolder. And definitely less intimidated by clubs and cliques. 

Coffee, Lunch or Happy Hour. Name a famous woman (living or dead) you would like to attend each function with

Oh, this is difficult, as I would love to have a roundtable of smart women to break bread with, but I will try. I will limit it to women no longer with us: I would love to have:

Coffee: (actually, tea, as I am not a coffee drinker) with Eleanor Roosevelt

Lunch: with Ida B Wells

Happy Hour: with Hedy Lamarr.

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled against Roe v Wade. If you oppose the decision, what can women in your industry do to defend a woman’s rights?

We can continue to tell difficult and real stories, to put women’s narratives at the forefront, and to get involved in the defense of women’s rights, among other rights that are under attack right now. We cannot be complacent. 

What keeps you up at night?

What doesn’t? Between the precarious state of the world and the fears that come with mundane, regular daily life issues, there is plenty to keep me awake. But sleep is crucial to health, so I try to get my 7 1/2 hours every night.

What’s up with Beyonce being nominated for four best albums of the year but never winning?

She is one of the most accomplished women in music, in the arts, really, and I am sure it triggers people. But, as Lizzo said recently, Beyonce is “the artist of our lives,” and that has to count for a lot.

Learn more about Sylvie Sadarnac on her IMDb page



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