Not many actresses making their film debut at age 95 also win awards for their performance, but that’s what Bonnie Jourdan did. Earlier this year, the longtime mainstay at the Little Theatre of Alexandria won Best Supporting Actress in a Short Film at the 2021 Northern Virginia International Film Festival for her role as Flora, a tack-sharp 95-year-old who develops a moving relationship with a depressed 17-year-old (Julie Kashmanian, also making her debut) in The Legacy Sessions.
“What a wonderful surprise—it was so marvelous,” Jourdan, now 97, says of winning the trophy. She has since settled into a new home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she lives with her daughter Catherine. She didn’t get to walk any red carpets, but that was OK. “We found out on Facebook,” she says. “The grandchildren and great-grandchildren have called to congratulate me.”
The 35-minute drama was written and directed by freelance filmmaker David Ashton and produced by his Arlington-based Sequoia Pictures. Ashton says Jourdan was professional, polished, and prepared, and nailed her lines in very few takes. “There are a lot of younger actors who are a lot less prepared,” he says.
Jourdan’s acting journey began when she was a young girl, but was put on hiatus for decades as she sold real estate and raised a family in Northern Virginia. But at age 64, she took it up again at local theater troupes. Stage and screen acting are very different, she learned. “David had to hold me down some,” she admits.
The recognition is nice, Jourdan says. “Well, it was a wonderful opportunity to go out with a bang.”
“I think you’ve got more work to do, Bonnie,” Ashton interjects. “I think there’s more to be done.”