FEATURE: The Dish on Québec City’s Sweetheart

FEATURE: The Dish on Québec City’s Sweetheart

This article first appeared in the June 2017 issue of Life in Québec Magazine.

Life in Quebec Magazine is a lifestyle publication covering Quebec and is published 4 times per year.

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The Dish on Québec City’s Sweetheart

By Nathalie Peron

A Day in the Life

A soon as she’s up in the morning, Marie-Christine Leblanc, one of the most appreciated television personalities in Québec City, is already fired up and ready to take on the day. She would have to be. As the face of Québec City’s arts and entertainment scene on TVA and LCN, and as the host of Pleins feux sur Québec, her own weekly show, she doesn’t have much room for slowing down.

Leblanc’s regular work as a journalist for both TVA and LCN is already time-consuming, but add to that a whole other TV show to prepare and you have a whirlwind of a day that never resembles the one before. For Leblanc, there’s no such thing as a typical day in the life. “Every day is different; there’s always too much to do!” says the award-winning animatrice. But she does offer to approximate, as best she can, a “typical” day.

She usually gets up around 8 a.m. and begins devouring her morning ration of social media and newspapers. Although her regular beat is arts and entertainment, she’s also interested in politics, which she studied at Université Laval. Then she talks to the network’s news director and the cameraman, maps out the day ahead and heads out to the morning’s first shoot.

In preparing for the piece, she needs to draw up the interview she will lead, figure out what visuals are needed and draft the script she will read on air. If the event is worthy of adding to her weekly show, she prepares an adapted version, conducting a more in-depth interview and adding more visuals. When the piece is shot, she does the pre-editing and sends it out for editing. Overall, a three-and-a-half minute TV broadcast item represents three hours of work for her.

And it doesn’t end there, of course; she could be asked to make a live appearance on LCN during the day, which needs to be prepared, and then there’s her segment on the evening news. While she pieces all this together, she’s constantly thinking ahead to what the next day will hold: news subjects to research, people to contact, interviews to book or press conferences to prepare for. The same goes for her weekly magazine-style television show. Each week, she submits to the news director and the producer her story ideas and a list of upcoming cultural events on Québec City’s calendar. She researches the topics, prepares her interviews, plans the shoots and contacts guests and contributors. Although she is supported by her producer, she carves most of it out on her own.

Pleins feux sur Québec is what gets her creative juices flowing. The show’s mission is to shine a light on people in the region who wouldn’t otherwise get the exposure, not only public figures but ordinary people who make a difference away from the public eye, sometimes in the world of arts and culture, sometimes not. “We want to highlight beautiful life stories … I really like discovering the human side of people … their state of mind and their anecdotes.” She raves about the show, the great liberties she is given and the talented technical team that works with her and follows her along.

And that’s the end of the day. Well, the end of a “normal” day of work, at any rate, because she often heads out to a show, a launch or a 5-à-7. All of that is part of consuming as much of the arts scene as she can and maintaining a wide network: “In the business, you’re known for your address book. The more impressive it is, the easier it is to gain the respect and the trust of the people you work with, producers and agents.”

Climbing the Professional Ladder

Leblanc’s career started straight out of school, at 19, with an internship at FM93, one of Québec City’s radio stations, as a researcher for host Gilles Parent. She describes it as a tremendous learning experience that taught her discipline and gave her the tools to do what she’s doing now.

She recalls how young she was when she started on the radio, how she had a young-sounding voice and had trouble getting taken seriously. On the other hand, her expressive manner and bright smile make it easier for her on television. She says she also feels more creative with television, with the added visual aspect and synchronized music.

Leblanc enjoys putting her growing influence and fame to good use; she acts as patron of Leucan, an organization that supports children with cancer and their families throughout the stages of the disease. Aware that her own field of work tends to focus on the superficial, she says she felt the need to counterbalance that by contributing to a cause she truly believes in. She explains that she often covered Leucan in her broadcasts. As the encounters progressed, her bonds with the families grew and she was increasingly touched by their stories and their courage. When they asked her to become a patron – one of the public faces of the organization – she was more than happy to accept.

Marie-Christine in a nutshell

Leblanc’s life doesn’t create much room for free time or work-life balance. The actual work doesn’t all fit into an eight-hour day; she likes showing up informed and does the necessary research to ensure that. Listening to music, reading books and staying abreast of what is going on in the rest of the world take up a lot of her “personal” time. Can a relationship fit into all this? She and her partner somehow manage it. “I have the luck of having a partner who is open to everything; he’s very curious and often comes along for the shows.”

After 10 years in the media, she explains, one starts questioning one’s future She recently realized she wanted her personal life to have a greater importance in the coming years. The first step in that direction was taking some much-needed vacation time (a whole month!), something she never would have done previously. But she has no doubts about where she belongs.

Leblanc is grateful for the opportunity to do what she loves for a living, in a city she loves – and it loves her right back. She looks forward to spending many more years on the town and in the newsroom, making Québec City’s arts scene shine.

Marie-Christine Leblanc’s coups de coeur

Free time: Enjoying a good novel, especially a romance novel, or taking long walks in the woods and losing track of time.

Drive time: Listening to talk radio or music, especially classic rock; her first hosting job was with a classic rock radio show, so her knowledge of and enthusiasm for the genre run deeper than one might expect for someone her age. She’s also a huge fan of francophone music, and very proud of the success of Québec artists. However; Ed Sheeran is her biggest current coup de coeur, and she can’t wait for his next tour.

Show time: Leblanc enjoys action movies, thrillers and dramas; she also likes theatre. Her onstage coup de coeur at the moment is the playwright and actress Anne-Marie Olivier, director of Québec City’s Théâtre du Trident. She says she was deeply moved by Olivier’s 2014 play Faire L’amour and is looking forward to its 2017 sequel, Venir au monde.

Dinner time:  Leblanc likes eating out and especially enjoys having tartare in restaurants when she gets the chance. Her favourite comfort food is pasta. She loves to cook at home, especially seafood, although she doesn’t follow recipes!

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About Author

Nathalie Peron

Naturalized Quebec City citizen, Nathalie has studied in literature and as a paralegal, the latter stemming a career she has strived in for the past 10 years, notably in workers’ compensation cases. Artistically inclined, she has acted in amateur theatre for 25 years and has lately added singing to her amateur CV. She now stretches her professional wings to writing, both corporate and creative texts, hoping to meld both her artistic and legal personalities.

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