Toronto, November 5, 2021 – Beans writer-director Tracey Deer and comedy troupe TallBoyz II Men will be celebrated on Friday, November 12, 2021, at 8 p.m. on www.sandirossawards.com as they accept their 2021 Sandi Ross Awards. Tracey Deer and Tallboyz Vance Banzo, Guled Abdi, Franco Nguyen and Tim Blair accept their honours and engage in a roundtable discussion about creativity and advocating for inclusion. The awards are presented by ACTRA Toronto Diversity & Inclusion Co-Chairs Chattrisse Dolabaille and Janet Rose Nguyen.
The Sandi Ross Awards celebrate one individual and one company/organization each year whose work demonstrates a commitment to inclusion on screen. Remembering the late ACTRAvist Sandi Ross, President David Gale says, “Sandi blazed a trail for the underrepresented; she would have been so proud to see her legacy live on.”
Tracey Deer is a Mohawk writer, director, and showrunner whose two decades of experience spans documentary, television, and film. Beans, her debut feature, premiered at TIFF 2020 to critical acclaim, garnering Tracey the prestigious TIFF Emerging Talent Award, two Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Picture, and earning her a spot on Variety’s 10 Screenwriters to Watch. In television, she helmed the hit dramedy Mohawk Girls as co-creator, co-showrunner and director. That success propelled Tracey to co-executive producer on the third season of Netflix/CBC series Anne with an E, working alongside Emmy winner Moira Walley-Beckett. Tracey proudly serves as vice-president at the Directors Guild of Canada and is on the board of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. Beans, produced by EMA Films, is available now on VOD.
Accepting, Tracey Deer says, “What we see on our screens is so important in indicating to society who matters and who has a voice….We all deserve space.”
TallBoyz II Men is a multi-award-winning sketch troupe made up of ACTRA members Tim Blair (NBC Break Out Comedy Fest, JFL42, The Sketchersons), Vance Banzo (TIFF, OFF-JFL), Franco Nguyen (NBC Break Out Comedy, Second City Tour Co.) and Guled Abdi (Tallest member of TallBoyz II Men). Formed in 2016 from the depths of the Toronto stand-up comedy scene, they have since gone on to win Outstanding Comedy Short at Toronto Sketchfest 2018, Best of Montreal Sketchfest 2018 and The Best Comedy award at Toronto Fringe 2018. You can catch their half-hour sketch show TallBoyz on CBC Gem. TallBoyz is produced by Accent Entertainment Corporation.
“We want to see more diversity in front and behind the camera…” say the Tallboyz. “We want diversity in post and pre-production, in hair and make-up, in your cereal box as a prize…”
In closing, Co-Chair Janet Rose Nguyen says, “I know Sandi Ross would be incredibly proud of the momentum and progress we are making.”
Past recipients of the Sandi Ross Awards include Sinking Ship Entertainment and director Dawn Wilkinson (2016), creator Nathalie Younglai and Hungry Eyes Media (2017), Tonya Williams and Shaftesbury’s Frankie Drake Mysteries (2018), Thunderbird Entertainment and writer/producer Floyd Kane (2019), and Winnifred Jong and Working the Scene in Colour founders Jessica Meya and Louis Taylor (2020).
The awards were conceived by the ACTRA Toronto Diversity Committee under past Co-Chairs Sedina Fiati and Farah Merani as the #SharetheScreen Awards and were renamed in honour of ACTRA Toronto past president Sandi Ross who passed away just before their first presentation in 2016. Sandi Ross was the first woman and person of colour to be president of ACTRA Toronto and was the founder of ACTRA Toronto’s first diverse talent directory, Into the Mainstream. In its current online form, Diversity.ACTRAonline.ca, the directory continues to be a useful tool for producers and casting directors looking to cast the world in Canada.
ACTRA Toronto’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee advocates on behalf of ACTRA Toronto’s self-identified physically and culturally diverse performers and calls for a more inclusive media industry.
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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