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Cathedral graduate returns home to Natchez for reign

NATCHEZ — Jean-Luc Curry Charboneau works hard, plays hard and goes to college, so when he was asked to serve as king of the Pilgrimage Garden Club, he wondered if he would have time.

Between attending classes at the University of New Orleans where Charboneau majors in film, working at a restaurant, producing short films and spending time with friends, Charboneau has a lot going on.

“Why not?” he finally said to the opportunity of representing the club and Natchez.

Charboneau said he always had a blast participating in the Historic Natchez Tableaux since his days in the picnic and polka scenes. He also appeared in the flag raising tableau and was groom with this year’s queen, Natalie Phillips, in the wedding tableau.

“The best part was always hanging out with everyone,” Charboneau said. “Going to brunch, cocktail parties and goofing off backstage, but we were serious when we had to be; it’s like a spring break that lasts for weeks.”

Charboneau graduated from Cathedral High School in 2008. He was involved in Key Club and also shined on the green lettering in golf his junior year. He played soccer and basketball as well.

He is the son of Douglas and Regina Charboneau and brother of Martin Charboneau and Catherine Cardneaux. His maternal grandparents are the late J.P. Trosclair and the late Frances Sanguinetti Trosclair of Natchez. His paternal grandparents are the late Jean-Arthur Charboneau and Rosemary Charboneau.

Charboneau wears a reproduction Confederate brigadier general’s uniform borrowed from Richard Edgin, who was pageant king in 2001. The uniform tunic coat is cadet gray, double-breasted with eagle-encrested brass buttons and yellow collar and cuffs. The regulation general’s insignia of three stars with a gold wreath are embroidered on the collar, and extending from the cuffs, the sleeves bear the general’s four rows of gold braid. A black leather sword belt surrounds the gold waist sash.

“The sword is my favorite part,” Charboneau said. “It’s an authentic Confederate general’s sword, still intact, with skin inlay on the handle. My parents gave it to me for Christmas.”

While growing up in Natchez, Charboneau worked at the Carriage House bussing tables and working wedding receptions. He also worked at the Malt Shop and Natchez Coffee Company.

Charboneau said his parents taught him how to be a hard worker, and they encouraged him to socialize.

“Once I had my first job, I really liked having the extra money in my pocket,” Charboneau said.

After college graduation, Charboneau said he would like to get into film direction. Besides his short films, Charboneau said he has had experience working on a professional movie set for the ABC Family film “Revenge of the Bridesmaids.”

He started as a paid stand-in, and then showed up for free because he wanted proximity to movie-making to learn as much as possible. Producers noted his sincerity and hired Charboneau as a production assistant for 10 days.

Because Charboneau has worked since he’s been legally allowed, he understands that it takes tenacity to build a career, not just talent.

“You really have to work every job on a movie set before you have a chance to be assistant director, then you do that for so long until you get a shot at directing,” Charboneau said.

As much as Charboneau loves psychological thrillers, horror and action movies, he said sometimes it drives him a little crazy.

“I can’t help but critique films I watch,” Charboneau said. “I get aggravated sometimes because there’s always something that could be better.”

Charboneau added that as much as he adores horror movies, he’s not into gore.

“It’s like in the movie ‘Jaws,’” he said. “You don’t know what will happen, and you’re not supposed to see the killer until the end.”

At the University of New Orleans, Charboneau is affiliated with the Filmmakers Club, which he says is semi-independent from the school, but takes on major film projects.

Charboneau said as much as he loves New Orleans, he misses the people and closeness of Natchez.

“Natchez is more of a small town environment,” he said. “Everyone knew me, and it allowed me to find the jobs I had in high school. I lived within walking distance to friends and could ride my bike to the golf course.”

Charboneau participates in a weekly pool tournament in New Orleans. To relax, he spends time at a college hangout on the river with his friends where they listen to music and cookout. He also likes to hit karaoke some nights and go to clubs to see friends’ bands.

Charboneau said 15 friends came to Saturday’s performance.

“They’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “I told them that the Tableaux will tell the history of Natchez, recreating old scenes of our past.”

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