living your authentic life. an interview with darcy turenne.

I first learned of Darcy Turenne at a workshop on Creating Alternative Assignments. Royal Roads Instructor, Phillip Vannini shared with fellow Instructional Designer BJ Eib, a video thesis that was created, produced and directed by Dary Turenne. This is the exact video I posted a couple of weeks ago, you can find that post here.  After watching Darcy’s thesis I was blown away and inspired. I loved that she chose an unconventional and creative way to submit her MA thesis. Also, I found the video to be quite similar to the authentic lives series. Darcy was and IS living her authentic life through film making and her documentary profiles four Indonesian women who, despite cultural and societal norms, are living THEIR authentic lives. Thanks again Darcy for contributing!

Photo credit: Nicolas Teichrob

Can you share a bit about yourself?

My name is Darcy Turenne, I’m 27-years-old, I make a living as a pro mountain biker, I am a fledgling filmmaker, and I’m answering these questions in an airplane.

How do you define authenticity?

Everyone is concerned, whether they admit it or not, with how the rest of the world perceives them. I would define authenticity as being able to lower the facade of how you want people to see yourself, and instead, following a path and act towards others in a way that makes you truly happy…regardless of how you think you are seen.

Can you describe the path you took to get to the place where you are today? As in, how did you find your calling?

The path to filmmaking was a pretty roundabout one, that’s for sure! In high school I was only concerned about sports…skiing, volleyball, basketball, cycling–it didn’t matter what sport I played, I wanted to be a pro athlete. I went to UVic for my undergrad in Geography and Environmental Studies on an academic scholarship (and mostly because my parents made me), and at the same time I began racing on the national downhill mountain bike circuit. I had just returned from racing in the World Championships when a local TV station interviewed me about my race. The host of the show suggested that I should host a segment of my own because I presented myself naturally on camera. I have always seen cameras as human like, well, Cyclops like I suppose…talking to a camera is like talking to a really good listener with one giant eye…and a mute Cyclops is not that intimidating.

Anyways, I didn’t think much of it until a few months later when a producer called and said they had created a small series of promo pieces about biking and they wanted me to host them. After that I sent my reel (thinking I was an expert!) to the travel ski/bike TV show “Ride Guide”. I started hosting for them part time and it soon turned into a full-time gig and I began travelling non-stop; shooting with the show and biking full time with a great roster of sponsors to support me.

After a few seasons with the show, and a few weird and wonderful side jobs including driving a bicycle rickshaw and directing the news division at an online action sports network, my freeride mountain bike career took off and I focused my energy exclusively on being an athlete. One day after suffering a really bad ankle injury I was sitting on the beach, sulking about my injury, and I met a man with his family who were in Victoria to celebrate his convocation at Royal Roads University. He had just finished an MA in Professional Communications and suggested I look into it. Being injured and suddenly realizing that athletic careers are short-term, I applied the next day and was accepted a few weeks after.

Rewind a few years. After attending the Banff Film Festival for the first time in 2008, I knew that I wanted to be a filmmaker. During my stint as a tv host and producer, I soaked in everything I could about camera work and production. That’s why the first day of class at Royal Roads I checked to see if I could present my final thesis project as a film. Being in school was the perfect excuse to finally make a documentary! Phillip Vannini (the program head) was encouraging of the idea, and if he hadn’t been, I probably would have withdrawn from the program. Over the next few weeks I researched cameras and ended up buying a Canon 7D. I taught myself how to shoot and edit, and have made a lot of mistakes in the process. It’s been great. From the first time I pressed “record”, I was passionately in love with having the ability to tell stories through my lens. I’m not sure if I have found my calling…but I’d like to hope so! Basically, I just always do what I love and even when I’m faced with a particular job or task that I don’t love, I try and make it better me somehow.

How does your current career and soulful journey reflect your authentic self?

I guess it demonstrates that I haven’t been afraid to follow a path that others told me would lead to a dead end. I wasn’t afraid of failing because I knew/know what makes me happy, and in order to succeed in what can be a very self-involved field of work relying on the support of the public domain, I have to put myself out to the world and face the judgement of others. I’ve come to learn though that the things we put out to the world, our fears, hopes, favourite colours, past dating history, etc. is just stuff. We all have it. It’s very insignificant. The “stuff” flavours our stories but it doesn’t compose a person’s true nature.

Who inspires and motivates you to continue your path to being your authentic self?

I’ve found that I am always the most insecure at the things I am best at, and that feeling of vulnerability is a challenge that I love overcoming. I’m not sure if that answers the question…but that’s what motivates me.

How do you ensure that you maintain your own authenticity, when often it can be a struggle?

It can definitely be a struggle, especially when travelling so much and always trying to adapt to different scenery–culturally, physically, and mentally. Connecting with others on a “human” level is how I stay grounded and rooted in my self. Also, I spend a lot of time alone in nature and make time for one-to-one conversations with myself! It’s easy to let your guard down in the presence of trees and waves :)

For people struggling to find their own authenticity, what advice can you offer?

Surround yourself with people you love and practice letting your guard down. Your loved ones won’t judge you, and even if they do, they’ll still love you! Then, take that forthrightness to the rest of the world and you’ll find that most of the hurdles that were in your way, were set by you from the start. Failure and judgement are not to be feared. Oh, and also remember that you deserve to be happy. Everybody does.

If you had to use one word to sum up your year, what word would that be and why?

Hectic. 10 out of 12 months living out of a suitcase and juggling a MA, several large projects, and a full time career at once. To be honest, most of the past year has been a blur and I don’t remember much of it! I’m taking action to slow things down next year :)

Lastly, where can we find you in the web-o-sphere?

My personal website is: and the Eighth Parallel website is:

Photo Credit: Walid Azami

If YOU would like to take part in the interview series or know someone who you believe truly lives an authentic life, please send me an email: amanda[dot]coolidge[at]gmail[dot]com.


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