TORONTO, ON (February 16, 2023) – Award-winning writer, producer and television/radio host Amanda Parris and Toronto-based entertainment agency Jesse Griffiths Casting Inc. will be celebrated Friday, February 17, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. ET at www.sandirossawards.com as they accept their 2022 Sandi Ross Awards. During the presentation, Parris and Jesse Griffiths will accept their honours and discuss their own experiences as well as how others can advocate for increased diversity and inclusion. The awards will be presented by ACTRA Toronto Diversity & Inclusion Committee 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.
Amanda Parris is a creatively gifted member of our Canadian storytelling community who uses her platform to fight for racial equity and uplift Canadian artists and Black voices. “Amanda provides a unique perspective that encourages each of us to do our part in examining the world we live in, with all its complexities and contradictions. The need to see true reflections onscreen of this complex world we live in is one that most everyone is aware of, but not everyone demonstrates the same commitment to that need that Amanda does,” says Chattrisse.
“I feel so privileged to get up every day and tell stories – stories that to me are very vital, are important and, hopefully, are pushing conversations forward so we’re not always talking about the same things over and over again,” says Parris. “I know I’ve only able to do this kind of work and be in this place in my life because of folks who paved the road for me like Philip Akin, Karen King, Jennifer Hodge De Silva, M. NourbeSe Philip and, of course, Sandi Ross.”
Jesse Griffiths Casting has been an active community member in the push for diversity and inclusion. Jesse and his team are consistently generous with their time, ideas, expertise and giving back to the community. Says Janet Rose: “Since the events of the Black Lives Matter movement and awakening in 2020, the group has really ‘walked the walk’ in creating a safe and inclusive casting community and pushing for diversity on our screens.”
“Casting with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion not only allows us to tell stories that authentically reflect and represent our communities, but it gives casting directors the opportunity to meet and work with artists with different lived experiences,” says Jesse Griffiths. “This can only enhance the creative process and our industry as a whole.”
“We are thrilled to acknowledge and celebrate Amanda Parris and Jesse Griffiths Casting, who, like Sandi, continue to actively demonstrate their long-standing commitments to diversity,” says ACTRA Toronto President David Gale.
Past recipients of the Sandi Ross Awards include Thunderbird Entertainment and writer/producer Floyd Kane (2019), Winnifred Jong and Working the Scene in Colour founders Jessica Meya and Louis Taylor (2020), and Tracey Deer and TallBoyz II Men (2021). Please visit actratoronto.com/sandi-ross-awards/ for the full list of past recipients.
The awards originally were conceived as the #SharetheScreen Awards by past ACTRA Toronto Diversity & Inclusion Committee co-chairs Sedina Fiati and Farah Merani, but were renamed in honour of ACTRA Toronto past president Sandi Ross who passed away just before the inaugural 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 for better representation when casting 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 screen-based media industry.
ACTRA Toronto is the largest organization within ACTRA, representing over 15,000 of Canada’s 28,000 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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