Updated: Jun 18
On the 5th May 2021, Laura Harris interviewed Monique Fontaine; Actress, Director and CEO of Fontaine Films Production, where they discussed her career in the entertainment business.
LH: Today, we're going to be speaking with Monique Fontaine, actress, director and CEO of Fontane Film Productions. Monique is also the creative behind the Black Father's Documentary. How did you get into the film and entertainment industry?
MF: I think the seed was planted in my head from when I was a little girl, like when I was in nursery. When they call the register with my name, at nursery, primary school and secondary school, I've always had this. All the teachers said, Oh, you've got an exotic name, you sound like a movie star.
The thing is, I only enjoyed drama when I got older. At the age of like, let's say 14, I really wanted to go to Sylvia Young, but my mom was like, you know, do your GCSE’s first. So, I said, you know, when I get older, I'm going to do it myself. So, I went to Kingdom School of Arts. And that’s where I got my first audition. And then that audition happened to be the first job that I got. So, I was quite lucky. And then I got something online, on YouTube called Ones and Twos. There's quite a few well-known people in there. And then my second audition, I didn't get the part but the character was created for me because they really liked my energy. So, they created the character for me and that was for another web series online called Dear Jesus. That's just what it's called. It's got nothing to Christianity.
MF: I had a friend who wanted to get into music and she asked me to direct that video. And then I said, you know what, I want to create my own content. So, what's inspiring me right now? Well, I really appreciate my dad and decided to do a documentary. Literally, the idea was to do like a reality show type of thing. But I thought it was a bit cheesy for the kind of stuff that I want to do. Because I wanted it to be a positive thing. So, I said, I'll do a documentary and interview some black fathers, because there is a negative stigma around, you know, just not being around in the family and stuff. So, because I don't have that in my family, I want to show that this is not all black fathers.
So let me create a platform where black fathers can blow their trumpet and say, look, I'm a great dad, you know, when you're a single Dad, married, if you're a dad and you’re hands on, I want to interview you, let's talk. I would interview them, go to their house, film them in the park or do my homework, doing kids’ activities that they're doing.
I haven’t completed it. There's still room to add more content to it. But the only problem is that I lost my dad in December. His heart basically stopped. So, I just remember my dad saying that he wanted to be the star of the show.
LH: December just gone? Monique, I'm so sorry.
MF: Thank you. I'm getting used to it. It motivates me to continue doing the platforms that I mentioned. But I've got that voice in my head said, I want to be the star of the show. So, I just remember the footage that we did the very first filming was off my dad. So, I know I have to do it. So, I'm getting over the situation with my dad is going to be a long, long time, because I'm still not over it. But I'm kind of like creating other content at the moment. Such as YouTube.
LH: Yes, we all have to spend all day every day on social media now!
MF: I don’t have too many social media accounts. I use Instagram because I think it's an amazing platform to sell products and also promote yourself.
LH: I feel like Club House could just sort of run out of battery once lock down has finished. I just feel like it's a bit gimmicky. And there's a lot of issues with it. Apparently, like I've never done it, but I've heard like read a few things about it.
MF: And so a lot of people who want to blow their trumpet they look at as a platform to say, I'm this big guy in this corporation. I do this. And I'm just like, okay.
LH: Obviously, documentaries in any kind of film production takes a long time, doesn't it? It's almost sounds a little bit like it's like writing a book. It's not liked a sort of something that from beginning to end takes a couple of months. It can actually go on for quite a long time?
MF: I think writing a book is probably easier! During COVID I didn't do any filming whatsoever. So, look what came with the post today (a drawing that LH had sent MF).
LH: Oh my god. I’m so excited that you got it.
MF: I love it surprised me on time. It looks so nice on my shelf. Literally, it's so nice.
LH: No, I really appreciate you taking time to do the live. And there is something about you though. It's like you have this aura. And I haven't even met you in real life yet! You do have star quality.
MF: Thank you. I appreciate that.
LH: So, we've talked about what you're working on at the moment. But would you be able to tell me like a highlight from your career up until this point? It sounds like you've worked on quite a lot of projects already. If we're only really talking a fun story that you can share with us all.
MF: Well, I had to film a music video in Dominican Republic. So that's how we really connected. And even though everything was all great and nice, and I've actually got a friend who lives there, and I've got some links there. And it wasn't a great ending, because that myself and the artists just happened to go separate ways. The good thing is obviously my friend lives there. So, you know, she was like, do you want to go swim with dolphins? And I'm like, hell yeah. So, he was on a yacht, we had a really good time. What I have learned from a situation like that is that people might ask you to do them favours. And it's probably best to just do business where money is exchanged and sort of doing favours for friends. And sometimes it doesn't work out. So, my price has gone up people.
I think with me, when it comes to work, I'm actually professional. I'm actually not like this when I'm on set. If you asked Michael (Kasirivu), if he saw different sides of me, I don't think he knew how to deal with me being so serious. I think maybe my ego came out. I don't know. If you meet me in person, I'm actually a really fun, bubbly, jerky, approachable person but obviously when I'm at work, doing something that I'm passionate about, I'm different.
LH: You have to behave a certain way at work. And actually, I think women in particular act and behave more sensibly. Otherwise, you're just not taken seriously. How do you find your new projects?
MF: Well, you know what, because I know a lot of people in the industry, fortunately for me, I'm actually lucky to just always get someone saying to me, I'm doing this project, can you help me out or Mon, I need actors. Not only am I an actress, a presenter, a director, producer, I'm also a casting director. I've got I've got a group chat. I've got loads of potential actors, but also actual actors and well-known actors in the group. And so, if any projects come, even if it's my own, or I'm working with someone, I'll put it in the group or just like, share it on my phone, team films production Instagram account.
And it's easy to get work because I know people. So, like, for example, on Tuesday, I've actually got a film, my friend has actually asked me to be a part of her project. So, I've got a script to learn. It's been a while. But there's a few projects that's actually meant to come out. Like there's one called Genie, that's meant to come out or was meant to come out last year, but obviously COVID affected everyone's life. So hopefully, it will come out this year, it's actually on IMDB. I've seen the trailer up like 10 seconds of it.
I think the best advice I can give anyone when it comes to finding an acting job is to go onto the professional websites like Casting Call, or Spotlight. But if you know someone, the best thing to do is keep in touch with them. Because you never know what projects that they're going to be working on. And they might have a role somewhere for you. And they might say, you know what, actually, look, this person has dropped out and do you want to do this for me?
A lot of people are a bit skeptical, in a sense that they feel like, oh, if I do that, they might think I'm begging, and it's not about begging friends, it’s called networking. You've got to keep in contact with people you know, in the industry so that you are not forgotten and seen as keen.
LH: And it's just underestimated how important it is. Just following up with people is very important. Sending a thank you card, or whether it's just sending someone a message online.
MF: I think for some people, it's a confidence thing. They don't want to come across as needy or desperate. My Mom always said to me, if you don't ask, you don't get! So, Hi, my name is Monique Fontane I'm a potential actor, or an aspiring actor or whatever you want to say, have you got a project? Or do you know anyone that's got a project going on that needs help, or I don't mind even just being on set, whether it is being in front of the camera or behind the camera, the fact that you're on set, you never know when you're going to be needed. And the fact that you're getting it? Make a conversation. Build up that courage!
LH: Absolutely. Monique, thank you so much for joining me. What is your Instagram?
MF: My Instagram is at Monique Queen Diva. Alright Laura take care. Thank you for having me.