Devery Jacobs on representation in fashion and her favourite Indigenous designers
The actor discusses sharing her platform, whom she chooses to wear and why
Mohawk actor Devery Jacobs reflects her pride in her Indigenous and queer identity by highlighting BIPOC, local and queer designers in her public appearances and social media.
Originally from Kahnawake, Que., Jacobs's star has been rising since she appeared in Mi'kmaw director Jeff Barnaby's Rhymes for Young Ghouls in 2013. She can be seen in a recurring role on the comedy series Rutherford Falls on Peacock and Showcase, and her latest show, the FX series Reservation Dogs, premieres in August.
While at home in Toronto, she's more likely to be in spandex shorts and a T-shirt she got free on set, but in public appearances, she leans into the dress-up element of the red carpet.
"I've been fortunate enough to have public events where I just, like, get to experiment with different looks and … self-expressive art pieces," she said.
Having that platform — being photographed on red carpets and with 168,000 followers on Instagram — allows Jacobs to use clothing and accessories as more than an extension of her identity.
"I'm always looking to support BIPOC, local and queer designers — I think that's important," she said. "I also have a big focus on sustainability. I'm not someone who believes in only, like, wearing [an] outfit once."
However, she isn't going to wear a designer's work just because they're BIPOC. The pieces she wears have to resonate with her, she said. She lists B.Yellowtail, Toronto's Lesley Hampton, Jamie Okuma and queer Michif designer Evan Ducharme, based in Vancouver, among the Indigenous designers she's a fan of.
"There's definitely a whole movement of Indigenous designers," she said.
For earrings, she loves Warren Steven Scott, Indi City and Running Fox Beads, and she comes across a lot of Indigenous makers on Instagram. Her sister Kakwitè:ne Jacobs also happens to be a beadworker, and Jacobs gave her pieces as gifts to some of the production team of Reservation Dogs.
She credits the wardrobe of her character Aila from her breakout film, Rhymes for Young Ghouls, with helping her shape her personal style, rooted in comfort and masculinity.
"A huge part of me coming out as queer and, like, finding clothes that felt right for me actually came through acting and trying on different pieces of wardrobe," said Jacobs. "In Rhymes for Young Ghouls, I had worn a lot of I guess, like, more masculine-presenting pieces … [and] I remember feeling really comfortable in it and feeling like I found a direction personally in my own style."
"I stopped wearing body-con dresses, I stopped wearing push-up bras, I stopped wearing high heels for many events because those were things that I thought that I should wear," Jacobs said. "I received a lot of positive reinforcement when wearing really femme-presenting clothes … [whereas now] my main focus when dressing for events is that I want what I'm wearing and what I'm expressing to be reflective of what's coming from within me."
The evolution of her style has brought her to more traditionally masculine shapes, but she's still all about colour, prints and fun. A perfect example is the the bright citron-yellow-hued shirt and trousers from Toronto designer Andrew Coimbra's genderless collection Jacobs recently posted to her Instagram account. She paired it with beaded hoop earrings from Indi City, co-founded by a two-spirit BIPOC couple.
"I like to be a little cheeky," Jacobs said. "I like to have fun with what I'm wearing, but I also like to be cool and comfortable above all else."
On the final day of Canada Reads 2021 — she championed Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead and won — she wore a custom two-piece from Brandon Kee and earrings from Indi City. She calls that two-piece a classic in her closet.
Jacobs collaborated with Toronto-based stylist Rebecca Wengle on that look. "I definitely have a perspective and a voice on what I'd like to wear and what I'd like to present as," she said.
Kelly Boutsalis is a full-time freelance journalist, based in Toronto. She is Mohawk and grew up on the Six Nations reserve. In 2019, she was named the first recipient of The Narwhal's Indigenous Journalism Fellowship. In her work, she aims to highlight accomplishments made by Indigenous people to carve out a positive space for them in media.
- An earlier version of this story identified Evan Ducharme as two-spirit Métis and has since been updated to reflect that the designer identifies as queer Michif.Jul 08, 2021 6:21 PM ET