IN OUR OWN VOICE
The entertainment industry has attempted to deliver more diverse content to audiences. It is a necessary effort, but most of these projects still have white creators at the helm. They are praised for their representation, winning awards and development and production grants without including or consulting diverse perspectives behind the scenes.
The industry is trying to find more content representing a diversity of voices but these films and TV shows do not always have BIPOC members in their creative teams, perpetuating the problem. This situation often contributes to the scarce representation of diversity on screen and the ongoing misrepresentations and portrayals of Black and Racialized people in films and television.
Has the industry truly understood the importance and need of having Black and Racialized creatives at the forefront of their projects and in decision-making roles to change these outcomes?
Is it fair to say that a non-BIPOC person cannot fully understand the emotional and psychological journey of a BIPOC character and do it justice without the help or insight of BIPOC people? How do we build a more balanced industry where creators have the chance to explore different realities outside of their own racial identities and experiences without alienating its community?
This panel will feature BIPOC Industry leaders and Creatives who will look at these difficult questions and discuss ways to advocate lasting and significant change.
Kadon Douglas - Executive Director, BIPOC TV & Film Kadon Douglas is the Executive Director at BIPOC TV & Film, a Toronto-based social impact organization and grassroots movement with a mission to transform, reimagine and revolutionize the Canadian screen industry. BIPOC TV & Film operates HireBIPOC, an online bilingual talent database of over 7500 above and below the line production crew and creatives.
Annmarie Morais - Creator, The Porter Jamaican-born, Canadian writer Annmarie Morais’ beginnings came in the form of short story and playwriting. She is a graduate of Toronto’s York University Film and Video Production program.
In 1999, The Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship (sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences) made Ms. Morais the first Canadian in the program’s history to receive a fellowship with her dramatic feature script BLEEDING.
Her inaugural feature film HOW SHE MOVE was a 2007 Sundance Film Festival Selection and received worldwide release through US distributor Paramount Vantage. Ms. Morais’ work in television has proved equally noteworthy, writing on the SyFy series KILLJOYS, as well as on such series as COMBAT HOSPITAL, ROGUE and HAVEN.
Ms. Morais is the Co-Showrunner on the CBC/BET historical drama THE PORTER (Sienna), while also developing her original series ARTICLE 41 with Muse Entertainment, and an untitled forthcoming series with Jada Pinkett Smith's company, Overbrook Entertainment.
Charles Officer - Director Charles Officer is a director, writer, and producer at Canesugar Filmworks. His award-winning works include the crime-noir Akilla’s Escape that won five Canadian Screen Awards in 2021 including Best Original Screenplay. Mighty Jerome earned a 2012 Emmy Award for Best Historical documentary. In 2017 Unarmed Verses cemented his cinematic voice with best feature awards at Hot Docs, Vancouver International Film Festival and TIFF Top Ten Festivals. Officer’s directorial work extends to series television such as Coroner, 21 Thunder and the 1920s drama The Porter. From his acclaimed debut feature Nurse.Fighter.Boy, the timely documentary The Skin We’re In to the mono-play series 21 Black Futures. Charles is committed to telling provocative stories from the diaspora that integrate the arts. He is a founding member of the first Black Screen Office in Canada and serves on the board of trustees at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Reel Canada, and Glenbow Museum.
Jesse Wente - Co-Executive Director, Indigenous Screen Office Jesse Wente is a husband and father, as well as a writer, broadcaster, speaker and arts administrator. Born and raised in Toronto, his family comes from Chicago and Genaabaajing Anishinaabek and he is a member of the Serpent River First Nation. Jesse is best known for more than two decades spent as a columnist for CBC Radio’s Metro Morning. In 2018, Jesse was named the founding director of the Indigenous Screen Office and in summer 2020 he was appointed Chair of the Canada Council for the Arts. Jesse received the Arbor Award from the University of Toronto in 2021 for his volunteer contributions. His first book “Unreconciled: Family, Truth and Indigenous Resistance” is a national bestseller and was picked as one of best books of 2021 by Chapters-Indigo, Apple Books and The Globe and Mail. Jesse has also recently been nominated for the Kobo Emerging Writers Prize in Non-Fiction.
Kelly Lynne Ashton - Lead Researcher, Being Seen: Directives for Creating Authentic and Inclusive Content Kelly Lynne Ashton has worked in the Canadian film, television and digital media industries as a business affairs executive in television production companies, as a producer at a children’s web studio, as manager of an online youth research company and in government relations and media policy for a talent union. Kelly Lynne is currently bringing together the different strands of her career in the Canadian cultural industries - legal, business, marketing and research - to providing consulting services to clients. She has authored a number of public and internal research papers covering the film, television, interactive digital media and performing arts sectors both in Canada and in comparison to jurisdictions around the world. As a multi-racial Canadian, diversity and inclusion are a priority in her work and she brings that lens to everything.
Kuukua Eshun - Filmmaker, Director, Poet & Writer Kuukua Eshun is a Ghanaian-American creative who splits her time between Ohio and her home Accra. Inspired by emotions and femininity, she raises awareness about social issues and mental health through her writing and film. She’s a Multi award-winning filmmaker.
Her Film ‘Artist, Act of Love’ won an award at the Worldwide Women’s Films Festival for Best Visual Effect and also screened at the Academy Award- Qualifying Urban World Film festival. Her films have been screened at numerous festivals around the world and she was also selected for the 2020 European Film Festival.
Kuukua just recently directed Made In Lagos Deluxe Short Film by Grammy Award winning Artiste, Wizkid.