Wednesday, September 11th, 2019
Toronto, ON – Diggstown writer-producer Floyd Kane and Kim’s Convenience production company Thunderbird Entertainment were honoured at the fourth Sandi Ross Awards during TIFF yesterday evening. The recipients were fêted at an invitation-only cocktail party at Orchid Nightclub hosted by ACTRA Toronto’s Diversity Committee Co-Chairs Lisa Michelle Cornelius and Samora Smallwood.
The Sandi Ross awards celebrate one individual and one company each year whose work demonstrates a commitment to inclusion on screen.
Floyd Kane is creator, executive producer and showrunner on CBC’s Diggstown, set in Halifax. The procedural is led by a black female lawyer played by ACTRA member Vinessa Antoine and is going into its second season. Mr. Kane began his career in media as a production executive and lawyer with Salter Street Films, Halifax Film and DHX. He was a producer on the award-winning That’s So Weird!, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Shake Hands with the Devil and Bowling for Columbine. In 2010, Mr. Kane launched his production company Freddie Films Inc. Other notably inclusive projects Mr. Kane has brought to audiences include Angelique’s Isle, Brown Girl Begins and his award-winning debut film Across the Line, a film about the destructive nature of racism, directed by Director X.
“When I first heard about this I thought, wow, they’re giving out an award for just doing what’s right!” said Mr. Kane, accepting the award.
Thunderbird Entertainment, founded in 2003, has garnered international interest and acclaim for its Korean-Toronto comedy Kim’s Convenience. The show was first commissioned by CBC and has been picked up by Netflix, Amazon VOD and Korean cable TV. Former CBC and CTV network exec Ivan Fecan is an executive producer on the series along with co-creators Ins Choi and Kevin White. Mr. Fecan accepted the award. Also in attendance were Ins Choi and many of the cast.
“We all work for the audience,” said Mr. Fecan, “and our audience is diverse and if we don’t tell those stories and if we don’t show what it looks like, how can we do good business? That’s why it’s so hard to understand why more of it hasn’t happened sooner.”
In her introductory remarks, Diversity Co-Chair Samora Smallwood said, “We honour those walking the talk and who make us feel included in the industry. We are a part of the light spilling out of a door that is opening to inclusion, diversity, and real representation on screen. The hope and motivation you give to our members and ourselves is immeasurable.”
“We’ve done a big census at ACTRA Toronto and Ontario and 50 per cent of our diverse performers have joined since 2011. They actually feel a space for themselves in our creative world,” said ACTRA Toronto President Theresa Tova. “We are growing in huge numbers. You can see that in the stories we’re creating and the stories we are exporting around the world.“
Jean Yoon, who plays Umma on Kim’s Convenience, knew the late Sandi Ross and spoke of her legacy. ”We all as actors of colour in this industry across Canada owe Sandi Ross and all of her colleagues and peers who fought so hard. I’m really proud of Sandi and her legacy and everyone who carries it forward. Diversity is our strength.”
Past recipients of the Sandi Ross Award include Sinking Ship Entertainment and director Dawn Wilkinson (2016), creator Nathalie Younglai and Hungry Eyes Media (2017), and Tonya Williams and Shaftesbury’s Frankie Drake Mysteries (2018). The awards are named after the late actor Sandi Ross, the first woman and person of colour to be president of ACTRA Toronto and the founder of ACTRA Toronto’s first diverse talent directory, Into the Mainstream. In its current online form at 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 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 25,000 professional performers working in recorded media in Canada. As 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, ACTRA Toronto
Cell: (416) 937-1437; firstname.lastname@example.org
Hashtags: #ACTRADiversity; #SandiRoss2019