Donna Duplantier is a proud New Orleans native. The gifted actress has appeared in countless television episodes, plays, and commercials in New York and Los Angeles. However, some of her most notable performances have been in New Orleans productions, including the Paramount Pictures film “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and the HBO Series "Treme."
Two months ago, as I was preparing to make my mother-in-law’s gumbo recipe for the first time, I posted a photo of the ingredients on social media. I tagged my New Orleanian friends- including Donna- inviting them to offer any helpful words of advice. The response was swift. Within a half hour I had over 30 responses from nearly as many people. I learned that everyone loves gumbo and people take their recipes and techniques very personally. For New Orleanians, food is a matter of civic pride, much like sports.
Donna and I met in the 90’s as members of Absolute Theatre Company in New York. In more recent years, she’s been based in New Orleans, and I’ve enjoyed her social media posts and photos of her traditional Creole cooking. With Mardi Gras approaching, I thought this would be a great time to catch up with Donna about her Creole heritage and its influence on her artistry and her cooking.
Donna's encyclopedic knowledge of New Orleans history and culture, combined with her fun and generous personality, make her the perfect person to share her stories of Mardi Gras celebrations past and present. Donna recounts the lively Mardi Gras parties and parades from her childhood through last year. She also explains how the pandemic, combined with the creative energy of her city, has created "Yardi Gras," a way for neighbors to celebrate the season by decorating their homes as they once decorated elaborate parade floats.
She's such a compelling storyteller, that her turned our interview into a two part feature. She also inspired me to make a simmering pot of jambalaya to celebrate the day.
Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Interview with Donna Duplantier, Part 1
Interview with Donna Duplantier, Part 2