The annual Birks Tribute to Women in Film has become one of our most cherished events during the Toronto International Film Festival. It is undoubtedly an evening of celebration, connection, love and just the right amount of glam.

As in years past, we are profiling some of the honourees, and for #TIFF18, we’re kicking things off with Montreal’s Jeanne Leblanc, who has made a name for herself at festivals worldwide. In the short film category, she wowed cinephiles with her first feature film, Isla Blanca, and is currently working on her second full-length feature, Les Notres

We love getting career and life advice from these luminaries, and whether or not you’re working in the entertainment industry, you’re sure to find inspiration, too.

SDTC: When you trace your journey as an artist, what’s one thing that sticks out as an opportunity that led to an unexpected place?

JL: One of my first experiences—in my early twenties—was an artistic residency in Spain (MAP program). I worked in Madrid with Spanish artists for a few months. I had to learn the language, the way to work and the way to live really fast. It really taught me to always stay on my toes, always ask questions and never take things for granted. 

What philosophy is currently steering your life and helping you make choices?

I’m a real searcher. I always need to challenge myself. I never stay in a place where I’m too comfortable. 

If you think back to a point in your life when you felt frustrated, when nothing was working, what would you want to say to your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to be patient with people and to stay open to new opportunities, because you never know where they will lead.

What’s a lesson you recently learned?

Bad things sometimes happen for a good reason, and to follow my inner voice.  

What are you enjoying most these days? 

I’m currently shooting a new feature film. It’s a drama and suspense. I’m really excited—and afraid—for the challenge.

Can you share with us one of your current goals (big or small)?

I’m working on a new script. It’s really far away from my reality—in a whole other country. I love it.