Interview with the founder of Inspirelle :
Nancy Ing Duclos first came to France in 1988 to learn French in the hopes of obtaining a foreign post for her budding TV news career. When fate intervened, she quickly dropped out of her immersion classes to learn French the best way—from her new Parisian boyfriend. She then stunned her Canadian family in Toronto by quitting her job as a reporter/producer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to move to Paris. Today, Nancy lives in the French capital with her dashing photographer husband and son, and works actively as a freelance news producer for major television networks. She continues to be fascinated by French attitudes and lifestyle, and never to turn down a new challenge, is learning new skills in the digital world with the creation of www.INSPIRELLE.com, an online lifestyle magazine for women living in and traveling to France.
When, where and how did you find your first FUSAC?
Who hasn’t heard of FUSAC? I moved permanently to Paris in 1990 to set up house with my new French fiancé. Having given up a full time job in TV news, my family and friends and apartment, I was looking for work, friends, contacts and new furniture. FUSAC popped out on a newsstand at the entrance of W.H. Smith bookstore in Paris.
What was your first job in France?
My first freelance gig was working with the press department of the Canadian Embassy at the Le Bourget Air Show with all the Canadian vendors. I was so worried that I would be useless to them because I could not understand the strong Quebecois accents spoken even though I am a Canadian! Fortunately for me, the Paris delegates asked that the meetings be conducted in English because they also had a hard time understanding the dialect.
What languages do you speak ?
English, French and a Chinese dialect that very few people speak.
What is the most satisfying thing about being a writer?
I write daily for television news and I now also write and edit for the new website INSPIRELLE on subjects that will enhance women’s lives in Paris and France. Two very different kinds of writing that in many ways reflect my personality and lifestyle. I see and absorb events seriously but I take time to share information, encounters and insight, which interest me. The dynamic women I work with and meet through INSPIRELLE in Paris provide the balance I need to cover the hard hitting, breaking news which these days are very intense and disturbing.
What did/do you parents do ?
My father was the godfather of Windsor, Ontario’s Chinatown and owner of a prosperous Chinese Canadian restaurant. My mother was a highly educated independent woman who became a mail order bride to escape communism.
Sisters or brothers?
Lucky to have three of the best brothers who dote over me.
What is your chief characteristic ?
Your main fault ? or worst habit ?
Switching topics on others in the conversation because my mind has moved on, a bad habit many journalists suffer from.
Your favorite occupation other than work?
Being in the company of people who exude generosity, curiosity, intelligence, courage and have a good sense of humour.
I have never forgotten what my mother once told me, « Nancy, you must seize every opportunity that comes your way because when you reach my age, you will only have the memories of all you have done to keep you going. So yes, I try to keep growing and continue learning at every age. »
I’m having a hard time resisting Les Merveilleux meringue pastry. Did you know that they were, in fact, called « La tête des Nègres » years ago. How appalling! I remember complaining to the pastry shop owner about them.
Favorite comfort food?
Any kind of stew…served with rice.
Water. The source of life. Seconded by Vernor’s Ginger Ale that is impossible to find.
To Kill a Mocking Bird and West Side Story.
Favorite place to eat in Paris?
This is a tough one because I LOVE to eat and am forever seeking out new restaurants to try. Yet, I do go back to my favorite haunts : L’Agrume, Les Papilles, Chez Omar for its Couscous Royale and l’Indonesie for my Asian Fix.
Favorite neighborhood to walk in Paris?
Le Marais on days when there are fewer tourists. I love the feeling of old Paris and I can see and feel its history in the buildings, museums and parks. The shops are different and there is no shortage of restaurants, cafes and falafel stands to try.
What is your favorite building in Paris?
The Louis Vuitton Foundation in the Bois de Boulogne designed by architect Frank Gehry for its beautiful aesthetic shape inside and out.
In which Parisian monument would you like to be locked in for the night ? with whom?
The Louvre Museum with the Chief Curator.
What are you currently reading?
I am riveted by « Forgotten : the Untold Story of D-Day’s Black Heroes, at Home and at War » by journalist Linda Hervieux who is based in Paris. Having covered several major D-DAY commemorations in Normandy, I have a real soft spot for the allied veterans. « Forgotten » opened my eyes to an important chapter in our history that I knew very little about and I was struck by the unbelievable hardships these men experienced before and after going to war for their country. It provided deep insight for understanding the current race relations crisis in America today.
The most significant author you have read ?
Maxine Hong Kingston. Her first book, “The Woman Warrior”, made me so proud of my roots and motivated me to write my own stories.
What music puts you in a good mood?
A good reason to like Americans (or the French or the English if you prefer)
I like Americans for their professionalism; I like French for their passion and I like British for their traditions.
What are you most proud of ?
What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
The most recent hardest thing I have ever done is create a start-up business in France with my talented partner, Grace Wong-Folliet. Creating the online magazine INSPIRELLE has been an absolutely joyful and satisfying challenge. Now, as my partners and I enter our second year of operation our goal is to turn it into a sustainable business venture. Our plan is to generate revenue through advertising, sponsorships and events. We hope the Paris expat community will support us and our team of 60 contributing writers by simply subscribing to our free weekly newsletter and following us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).
What do you bring back from vacation?
How do you stay abreast of news?
I live and breathe the news in my job as a TV news producer and as the chief editor of INSPIRELLE. Every morning, as soon as I wake up, I sweep all the French news websites as well as key international news sites. I receive alerts to all breaking news and I constantly research subjects that interest me and seek out people to enlighten me.
An introduction that changed your life
I got my first break in television when I was a third year film student. My teacher passed my script about my father’s life as a boy in Canada during the prohibition years to a director of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Terry Macartney-Filgate hired me to be his researcher for his 90-minute docu-drama of the History of the Chinese in Canada at a time when multiculturalism was just being defined. Still in university, I was sent across the country to interview old timers in every Chinatown to piece together the history. Terry opened my eyes to my own ancestry, trained me with the best research skills and taught me the power and responsibility of good reporting.
A discovery you would like to make
How to live in a peaceful world.
A historic place that stops you in your tracks
Every time I step out of the metro station at Charles de Gaulle, I stop in my tracks at the sight of the Arc de Triomphe Monument before me.
What is your next project?
My next project is to turn INSPIRELLE.com into a dynamic business in France so that we can continue to write for women and their families seeking information on how to enjoy the best life possible in the most beautiful city in the world.
Listen to an interview with the other co-founder of Inspirelle on France 24