For Immediate Release
July 29, 2020


For Immediate Release: Toronto, July 29, 2020 – outACTRAto, the LGBTQ+ committee of ACTRA Toronto, is proud to introduce the Working with Queer Performers guideline.

The guideline was written by Merlin Simard, Kiley May, and Joanne Vannicola and aims to encourage a change in the way screenwriters, agents, casting directors, directors, producers and productions treat queer performers and to break down existing barriers for queer performers in the industry. The guideline follows up on the launch of the committee’s PSA, Queer Your Stories, last year.

It includes ally suggestions and responsibilities for agents, casting directors, writers, directors, producers and studio executives.

As well, it provides concrete suggestions to expand the way queer performers are portrayed, managed, auditioned, cast and directed. And it contains a useful glossary.

“You can’t be what you can’t see,” says ACTRA Toronto V.P. David Gale, who helped establish outACTRAto. “Until our industry casts queer performers in queer parts, young queer performers will stay in the closet and audiences will not see queer characters authentically depicted in our work.”

“While LGBTQ+ stories are on the rise, there is a still long way to go to authentically reflect queer people in film and TV shows,” says Joanne Vannicola, co-author of the guideline and the founder and chair of outACTRAto. “One of our goals is to create guidelines and projects that educate and challenge people in positions of power in our industry to write more LGBTQ+ stories and expand their ideas of what queer performers can play.”

“Respectful and inclusive representation matters,” says ACTRA Toronto President Theresa Tova. “This guideline helps lead the way to a screen world that reflects the real world.”

Link to guideline:
Link to Queer Your Stories PSA:

About outACTRAto:
outACTRAto is ACTRA Toronto’s queer committee, advocating for gender and sexually diverse performers. Established in 2018, outACTRAto’s initiatives to date include the Working with Queer Performers guideline, a PSA called Queer Your Stories, a short film competition and partnership with the Inside Out Film Festival Toronto, and community outreach in the form of industry mixers.

About ACTRA Toronto:
ACTRA Toronto is the largest organization within ACTRA, representing more than 15,000 of Canada’s 27,000 professional performers working in recorded media in Canada. An advocate for Canadian culture since 1943, ACTRA is a member-driven union that continues to secure rights and respect for the work of professional performers.

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Karen Woolridge, Public Relations Officer, Mobile: (416) 937-1437, email:
outACTRAto contact: