What is the ACTRA Toronto DEIB Puppetry Workshop?

The ACTRA Toronto DEIB Puppetry Workshop is a puppetry workshop/masterclass for diverse members with a minor background in puppeteering who are ready to raise their skills to the next level.

Who is the ACTRA Toronto DEIB Puppetry Workshop for?

This workshop is part of a continuing series of ACTRA Toronto Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging initiatives designed to provide members who self-identify as diverse (including but not limited to: disability status, sexual orientation, gender or racial identity, membership in a historically marginalized group, etc.) with an opportunity to improve skills in a safe, welcoming and respectful environment.

It is recognized that such self-identification can feel like a risky and uncomfortable process. All information shared by applicants in the application form and process will be treated in the strictest confidence and will not be stored or used for any other purpose than the adjudication of workshop applications.

Who is teaching…

Kanja Chen is a creative producer, writer and puppeteer, who has worked on numerous high profile television productions. He’s been formally trained by The Jim Henson Company, Sesame Street Workshop and has taught at the Second City Training Centre in Toronto. Kanja is multi-racial (Black/Asian father and white mother), and is heavily influenced by his Jamaican heritage, being co-raised by his Jamaican grandmother and family.

Kanja’s most recent achievement as a puppeteer was performing on the highly anticipated reboot of the Fraggle Rock franchise, airing on AppleTV+. Other recent works include Kanja as a writer and educational consultant on The Fabulous Show with Fay & Fluffy, a pre-school show for Family Channel Jr. and recently being hired as a writer for the preschool series “Lil’ Stompers for Peacock. He’s worked as a puppeteer and puppet builder on Odd Squad (PBS), and was the head of the Puppet and Creature Department for “Oh Yuck!, a Canadian-Australian co-production currently airing on Amazon Prime.

Kanja was honoured to have recently been chosen as a Netflix – Banff Diversity of Voices Fellow for both 2022 and 2023. In his first ever pitch contest (the Ottawa International Animation Festival) in 2021, Kanja was a semi-finalist. He then placed top two, several months later at his second ever pitch contest (the Toronto Animation Artist Festival International), pitching another original show idea. In 2022, Kanja was selected one of the 25 participants in the BIPOC TV and Film “Writing for Kids TV” Intensive. He has currently accepted a producer and story editor position with a new preschool series heading into production for the CBC. Kanja currently resides in Burlington Ontario, with his wife, his three awesome kids and a room filled with puppets and 80’s toy collectables.

How to apply…

To participate, ACTRA Toronto members in good standing should complete and submit the application form below, including a link to a brief video introduction and description of why they want to take part.

Nine participants will be selected from among the applicants and contacted about next steps.

Applications are now closed