The election in the United State may finally be over and done with, but the race for who will be the next Chief on Mohawk Girls is just getting started. The APTN comedy series, which airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m., will see Zoe’s (Brittany LeBorgne) campaign just starting to heat up. The notorious people pleaser will face some harder competition when a new opponent decides to enter the race, leaving her confidence to take a hit.
Why is winning this election so important to Zoe and what lengths will she go to in order to win? The TV Junkies got the answers to these questions and more during a recent chat with LeBorgne. The Montreal born actress was nominated last year for a Canadian Screen Award for her Mohawk Girls role and hails from the same Kahnawake community as Girls’ co-creator Tracey Deer. She also discussed with us why she’s so proud to be a part of a show like Mohawk Girls and what it’s really like filming all those fetish scenes that Zoe finds herself in.
The TV Junkies: Can you share a little about your background and how you got involved with Mohawk Girls?
Brittany LeBorgne: Tracey and I are both from the same Mohawk community where the show is set and filmed. The cool thing about Kahnawake, very much like any small town, is that really everyone knows everyone. Heather’s [who plays Caitlin] mom is from Kahnawake and so we all grew up knowing each other–Heather, Tracey and I. I always knew who Tracey was, but I only got to know her when she was my counselor at a summer drama camp. She always says she knew one day that she was going to make a show and Heather and I would be stars. I always roll my eyes because it’s just something I never could have dreamed.
Then Mohawk Girls started as a short film 10 years ago. Tracey wanted local talent to audition for it and reached out to some of us who she knew were interested in acting. Since I was 5 or 6 I wanted to be an actor and it was my dream, so I went in and it’s funny because Heather and I both read for Zoe and Caitlin. They brought me in for Caitlin and Heather in for Zoe, but we still read for both and they ended up casting us opposite of what they thought.
TTVJ: As a whole the TV industry is still fighting for gender equality and yet Mohawk Girls is is so unapologetically female. You guys have women featured both in front and behind the camera so what’s it like for you to be a part of a project like that?
BL: I think it’s amazing and women often don’t get enough opportunity or the chances to do this, especially in this line of work. It is a show about women, yes we do have a lot of male fans, but it is a show about women. If you didn’t have women at the helm I don’t know how authentic it would be. Sometimes I’ll read a script or a description of a female character for an audition and before even looking you’re like ‘oh man, a man wrote this.’ I think there’s something to be said about women writing for women. It’s so nice when we get scripts or hear about storylines we’re like ‘oh my I went through something like that!’ Having women creating for women makes it so much more special, authentic and relatable.
TTVJ: We’ve see that this season Zoe has decided to run for Chief. What was her motivation for making that decision?
BL: Zoe is a people pleaser and she gets her validation from other people’s praise and pleasing other people. When that goes wrong and the pressures mount she delves into the world of S&M. She gets into a vicious cycle where she tries to do good, it fails, she goes to her escape and because of that she misses out on something important thing, isn’t there for a friend or lets down her mom. It sends her back into the cycle even harder and inevitably it fails too.
In Season 4 she’s disappointed everyone so much and there’s a line where she says “I’m going to be able to do so much good that they’ll have to forgive me.” She thinks running for Chief will fix everything, make people see her in a better light, make them respect her, but she doesn’t realize you can’t get respect like that. You have to earn it. You have to really mean it and not just be doing it to get people to like you.
TTVJ: She’s now in the thick of her campaign. What are some of the obstacles she’s going to be facing?
BL: She is campaigning and runs into a lot of people who are like ‘nah, I don’t think that’s a goal for you.’ So even in her campaigning she’s not getting the response she expected. So she does do something quite drastic to her appearance in order to try and fit in and appeal to the masses in hopes that they’ll take her a little more seriously.
TTVJ: Mohawk Girls is pretty frank and open about sexual situations and your character is always right at the center of that. What do you think when you get some of those stories about Zoe’s fetishes?
BL: When we did the pilot episode all that you see is Zoe looking on a dating website and finds a guy that’s interested in casual sex. Little did I know when I first read where Zoe was going, so I was definitely scared. This is my first big acting gig so there was a lot of pressure in a sense, but also to have to do something that puts you in an even more vulnerable place. It was daunting and I was definitely scared, but now it doesn’t even surprise me when I get the scripts anymore. [laughs]
The difference now is that I understand what’s happening to Zoe and it’s not just gratuitous, kinky sex. It’s part of her storyline and she’s headed down a road of realizing she suffers from sex addiction. That’s not to say that people in that world must have a problem. When we film in sex clubs the extras are actually people in that world in Montreal. I got to know them and I also came to that realization that they are not weirdos, they are cool and it’s just something they are interested in.
However, in Zoe’s case that’s what it is. She does this because there are other issues she’s not addressing. So now that I understand where they are going with her journey it’s more about telling her story right. It’s not about giggling because I have to wear this silly thing.
TTVJ: Because I’d imagine some of that must be pretty embarrassing to film.
BL: Well actually I kind of got used to it except for one outfit later this season. When we were filming I felt really, really exposed even though it’s not the skimpiest thing, but you’ll see why. So there are some times when you feel really vulnerable, but our crew and everyone is so respectful. I feel very safe so it’s OK.
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Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.