Heels on Wheels with Lucy DeCoutere
From our NEW issue!
Interview by Tammy Thorne
Photo by Mike Ford
LUCY DECOUTERE plays Lucy on the popular Canadian comedy Trailer Park Boys. When she’s not on set in the trailer park, she loves riding bikes in Halifax and beyond. dandyhorse magazine caught up with the “Surly girl” (she is a product tester for the popular bike brand) for our new "equity" issue and asked her what it feels like to be one of the newsmakers of the year.
Q: I believe it was Maclean’s that gave you the moniker of one of the “newsmakers of the year,” how does that make you feel?
I am not a newsmaker. That title belongs with the swell of people who have, for whatever reason, changed their thinking when they hear a woman report assault. A switch flipped it seems, and it is remarkable to witness. Suddenly, the conversation about emotional and physical violence is cracked open: women are sharing their experiences. Their loved ones are starting to finally come to terms with what has happened, that “allegations” (I have come to think this word is always in air quotes) are real.
You were at the forefront of the movement that resulted in thousands of tweets from women around the world telling their stories about being assaulted (#BeenRapedNeverReported) simply because you were brave enough to put your name to sexual assault allegations against former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi. Have you ever met Antonia Zerbisias?
I have never met Ms. Zerbisias but she's right on the money. This entire thing has been humbling, though I feel somewhat disassociated from it. I have been watching this thing unfold, like everyone else. The conversation’s changing, people are starting to talk more freely. That’s what matters
Statistics Canada figures show there are more than half a million sexual assaults a year in Canada. Over 80 per cent of the victims are women and most of them know their attacker. A great majority of women do not report their attackers because they fear humiliation or re-victimization in the legal process. Why do you think so many women stay silent?
When asking why a woman refuses to speak out, we need to remember that these woman owe us NOTHING. They own their story and can do with it what they want, when they want. Check out whenyoureready.org if you want to know more.
Why was it so important for you to speak out? In a Toronto Star video, you said your story wasn’t “as traumatizing” as others — what do you mean?
It was important for me to speak out because I knew, based on my direct encounter, that these women were not lying.
I had no idea if anyone would believe me but I didn't care because I was telling the truth and had nothing to gain by doing so.
It never occurred to me that there would be such a large ripple effect. I now know that in sharing my story, women completely removed from me have shared secrets they have carried in some cases for decades about being raped or assaulted. Every week I'll hear a new story that will gut me, not from its violence, but because I can feel the release as she finally takes that monkey off her back.
This issue of dandyhorse magazine is themed around equity. Do you think women have equality in society?
Is Canada better than other countries? Sure it is! I wasn't forced into an arranged marriage when I was in junior high. I have a masters degree and own property. I can have an abortion or be a single mother if I choose to. But I would not say Canada is leading the charge when it comes to equality for women. In the film industry, there are still more male directors, more male producers. Any meeting I go to in my “straight” job with the Canadian Forces I think, “Man, there are a LOT of dudes here.” There is a huge disparity and it's not going to shift overnight. I don't let sexist language or misogynistic jokes float. I work in two male dominated industries and in both, I do my best to excel. I know the character I play on TPB is problematic from a “gender equality” perspective, but I am working at it. When I talk to young kids, especially girls, I try to ingrain how much their voices matter and that they should focus on their brains rather than their outfits.
Do you ever ride bikes on the set of Trailer Park Boys?
The TPB set is large since we shoot on location in real parks. We'll usually have the actual set a couple of streets away from where the wardrobe, art department and hair and makeup trailers are, and there is a lot of back and forth. The crew rides around set on bikes to pick up things from their trailers and props. It’s faster and, lets face it, more fun.
What are you working on right now?
Literally? Today, after I answer these questions, I am finishing my work with TAC helicopters while getting spooled up on the work I’ll be doing with the Navy team. [DeCoutere is a ranking officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force.]
Oh and of course, as mentioned, I’m shooting TPB. Over the last 15 years, this crew has become my family. The TPB gang has grown up together and being in that world for a few weeks a summer has become one of my favourite things. There is a lot of love on that set, for each other and for the project. We’re shooting season 10 now.
Where do you bike in Halifax?
I use my bike to commute in Halifax. There is a delicious ride about 70 kilometres outside of the city: A loop on the Aspotogan Peninsula. It goes along a couple of gorgeous beaches and passes through Southwest Cove and features classic maritime scenery. I love to ride out to Herring Cove. It is a lot like Peggy's Cove, but less travelled and closer. It’s a good ride if you don't have time for a super long jaunt. I also have a carbon road bike, which I can ride now that the snow has finally melted away. I need to get some miles on that hustler.
Have you ever worn heels or formal attire while riding?
I have ridden to a couple screenings at the Atlantic Film Festival in fancy outfits for sure! Parking is for chumps. I'd beat my friends to the movie and get to the parties while some folks were still leaving the theatre. Sometimes riding a bike at night to get to and from an event makes me feel physically safer. I’ve felt creeped out while walking home late at night. On my bike, I feel untouchable.
Related on the dandyBLOG:
VISION ZERO: A road safety plan for Toronto (from our new issue)