Cardinal’s Devery Jacobs On What Turns Sam From a Naive Girl to a Strong Woman

Bell Media
Bell Media

Detective John Cardinal (Billy Campbell) may think that Season 3 of CTV’s Cardinal got off to a rough start for him, but he’s not the only one having a difficult go of things. While Cardinal is still reeling from the apparent suicide of his wife, Catherine, viewers were also introduced to aspiring artist, Sam Duchene (Devery Jacobs). While sneaking away with married boyfriend Randall (Aaron Ashmore) one night, Sam witnessed a double murder and barely made her escape. Now having second thoughts about keeping quiet, Sam will have to weigh whether or not she goes to the police or listens to Randall and remains silent.

The role on Cardinal is just one of several major ones this year for Jacobs, a native of the Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory and graduate of the Canadian Film Centre’s Acting Conservatory. In addition to playing Sam on Cardinal, she also stars in the highly anticipated second season of American Gods, as well as the new Netflix original series The Order. Jacobs recently spoke with The TV Junkies about what’s behind some of Sam’s decisions, what it was like joining Cardinal for Season 3 and what may lie ahead for her. She also talks about landing the role of Sam Black Crow in American Gods, and shares more about The Order, which follows a secret society filled with sorcery and monsters where an underground battle between the magical dark arts and werewolves is also taking place.


The TV Junkies: How did the opportunity to be a part of this latest season of Cardinal come about? Had you watched the previous two seasons?

Devery Jacobs: I was a fan before because one of my co-leads in the feature film Rhymes for Young Ghouls, Glen Gould, plays Detective Jerry Commanda. I also watched the first season on CTV and was a fan of the director, Daniel “Podz” Grou. My reservation is just outside of Montreal and that’s where he’s from. He has a really great reputation and so I was just aware of the show before. I had never read the books, and this season is actually a combination of the fourth and fifth books.

TTVJ: You have to be glad your season wasn’t the winter season. The fall colors really look beautiful in the episodes I’ve seen so far.
DJ: Yes! That was one of the few times in my career I’ve not had a freezing set in Canada. The seasons of the weather totally influence the storylines that we have.

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Bell Media

TTVJ: What can you share about Sam and the situation she finds herself in at the beginning of Season 3?
DJ: Sam Duchene is an art student who lives on the Nipissing First Nation Rez with her mom. She’s working at a greasy diner in order to pay her bills and doesn’t live an incredibly exciting life. She’s also the illustrator of this graphic novel character, an indigenous superhero named Loreena Moon, who she wishes reflected her life.

She ends up in a situation where she’s having an affair with a married real estate agent named Randall. They are meeting up in these empty houses and she ends up witnessing a break in and double homicide. After running away, she encounters the murderer who ends up forming a really serious infatuation with her, essentially stalking her throughout the season. While she wants to turn to the police, Randall encourages her not to because his wife is a political figure.

TTVJ: Being involved with Randall doesn’t seem like the best idea. What’s the appeal for Sam there and what was it like working with Aaron Ashmore?
DJ: Aaron was great. He was so supportive and respectful on set. The first time we worked together was actually our sex scene, but he was great. As for Sam, because she’s raised on the Rez, because her family is low-income and she’s struggling to support herself through college, there is an appeal of being with an older, married man. There’s a thrill there of having a bit of a secret life, but also the fact that it’s a beautiful lake house that she’s never been a part of before. I also do think Sam is genuinely a good person and not thinking of hurting his wife or anyone. She is a bit naive and throughout the season we see her go from a naive girl to a strong woman.

TTVJ: What was it like working with Billy Campbell and Karine Vanasse?
DJ: They are the best leads you can imagine. Working in North Bay, there’s really not a lot to do as it’s a small town in Northern Ontario. But every Thursday, Billy would come out and sometimes Karine, and we’d all go out and do karaoke. It was such a tight knit family — our director, producers, DPs, grips and actors — it was almost like shooting at a summer camp. Billy and Karine were at the heart of all that, and you should’ve seen the party they threw for our wrap party. They really take care of their crew. It was really nice to see.

TTVJ: In watching the first few episodes of Cardinal, there’s quite a physical nature to Sam and there’s a few action sequences. Did you know that it was going to be such a physical role, and was that something you enjoyed getting to do with this character?
DJ: I had an idea, but I didn’t realize how physical it was going to be. I enjoy that and love fight scenes. I’ve done a lot of my own stunts in my career, but I am glad I wasn’t the one falling out the window, down the roof and onto the ground. [laughs]

Bell Media
Bell Media

TTVJ: You’re also going to be on the upcoming season of American Gods, a role which a lot of fans asked for you specifically to be cast in. What was that experience like and can you tell us anything about your role there?
DJ: I had been a fan of the book by Neil Gaiman for years. Sam Black Crow is a really feisty, smart, sarcastic college-aged two-spirit, half-Cherokee woman. Two-spirit is an umbrella indigenous term for queer or gender queer, but in this case it’s queer. As a Mohawk queer actor, it was a character I hugely identified with. I had been a fan for years, and the first time I sat down with my agent and knew they were greenlit, I said ‘you need to get me on this.’

When the time finally came, I landed the role but was working on another production, and it conflicted down to one day. The other production wouldn’t let me go and so American Gods said they were moving on to their second choice. They said there was nothing they could do because the production wouldn’t budge. I was heartbroken. It is a fan favorite character, and I was one of those fans.

I had written a letter to the production of American Gods explaining how much I love this character, how much I identify with this character in my own life, and that I’m gutted that this other production won’t let me go. I said I’d still be a fan of Sam Black Crow, of American Gods and of Neil Gaiman. It circulated across the production office and even Neil Gaiman himself read it. They called me back and said that I was their Sam. It was such an emotional rollercoaster. I thought I was singing my swan song by writing that letter. That was the hardest I ever fought for a role and I’m really excited.

In Season 2 we just get the introduction to Sam, and hopefully if Season 3 comes along, I’m slated to be a series regular as Sam Black Crow. It sounds like it’s something made up for PR, but I swear it’s not. Neil Gaiman even tweeted about it. I was geeking out.

TTVJ: You’re also starring in the upcoming Netflix series The Order. Who are you playing on that show?
DJ: The show is about Jack Morton who is going to this school and is inducted into a secret society that practices magic. I’m introduced in Episode 3 as Lilith Bathory, one of the knights of St. Christopher. She’s a werewolf fighting bad magic. It was the first time I’ve worked on something supernatural like that with werewolves and magic. It was a lot of fun.


What do you think of Season 3 of Cardinal so far? Share your thoughts below.

Cardinal airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.