Performers heartened by diversity of nominees for Canadian Screen Awards

While diversity woes plague the Oscars, Canadian performers are touting a much more inclusive slate of nominees for this country’s biggest film and television awards.

TORONTO — While diversity woes plague the Oscars, Canadian performers are touting a much more inclusive slate of nominees for this country’s biggest film and television awards.

Film actors nominated for Canadian Screen Awards include Waris Ahluwalia and Balinder Johal for Beeba Boys, and Irdens Exantus for My Internship in Canada.

On the TV side, acting nominations include Adrian Holmes for 19-2, Al Mukadam for Spun Out, Brittany LeBorgne for Mohawk Girls and Lyriq Bent, Aunjanue Ellis and Shailyn Pierre-Dixon for Book of Negroes.

Helga Stephenson, the head of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television — which administers the awards — says her group’s members are generally younger and include more women than the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences, which runs the Oscars.

The Oscars bash is facing calls for a boycott over its all-white acting nominees. The academy’s president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, has responded by promising “big changes,” including an examination of its membership.

Many observers expected nominations for Idris Elba of Beasts of No Nation and Benicio Del Toro for Sicario. The N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton also failed to earn a best picture nomination, despite some predictions it would.

Holmes says he was rooting for Elba and was disappointed when the celebrated British actor failed to make the cut. But he says it’s a much different story in Canada.

“Here, I think we did a great job. It was very diverse, I thought,” Holmes says of the list of nominees, revealed Tuesday at a downtown press conference.

He was watching the Oscars flap unfold and was keen to see Isaacs’s pledge take root.

“Hopefully we’ll get it right, more consistently,” he says.

“We are definitely making improvements but we’re not 100 per cent there yet and I’m being optimistic that we will get there.”

LeBorgne, whose APTN show Mohawk Girls is also up for best TV comedy, says she was heartened to see a variety of ethnicities among Canadian nominees.

“It’s such a diverse group of people and I think that actually reflects what Canada is, who Canada is. I think that’s amazing,” she says.

But Reign actress Megan Follows says more can always be done to nurture diverse storytelling.

“We are an incredibly diverse country so our stories need to reflect that,” says the veteran star, up for best actress in a TV drama for the period saga.

“It’s critical that we do that.”

Stephenson says the Canadian academy’s 4,000 members are about 40 per cent female and most are between the ages of 35 and 50.

“Are we perfect? No. Is there more to do? Lots. But nonetheless I don’t think we face the same problems as the academy in the States,” she says.

19-2 showrunner Bruce Smith says the Oscars problem can also be traced to casting.

“We ended up with a really wonderfully diverse cast just by casting each part and giving them to the best actor for each role,” says Smith.

“There is something wrong when all the nominees in an entire country are white. What the hell? Either people aren’t getting the roles or their work’s not being recognized. Something’s wrong there.”

Just Posted

Alberta has made a more detailed framework for those looking to acquire an exemption to the mandatory indoor mask bylaw. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
Alberta changes requirements for mask exemptions

Masks wearing has been recommended for almost a year and provincially mandated… Continue reading

Alberta’a chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that there are more than 328,000 vaccine appointments booked over the next seven days. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta surpasses 2 million doses administered of COVID-19 vaccine

Red Deer down to 835 active cases of COVID-19

RCMP file photo (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)
RCMP investigating shooting near Maskwacis

Maskwacis and Wetaskiwin RCMP are seeking public assistance after a shooting has… Continue reading

Rode
Smith among impressive group of RDC soccer Queens recruits

There have been a number of cases where younger girls have developed… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools is projecting a $4-million budget deficit for 2021-22 school year. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools prepares $124-million budget

$1 million COVID recovery plan to assist students

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Vancouver Canucks' Nils Hoglander, right, is checked by Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom during third-period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Thursday, May 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, right, drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch, left, and guard Jalen Harris during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

NFL schedules get off to strong starts with Week 1 twinbills

NFL schedules get off to strong starts with Week 1 twinbills

The Saddledome, home of the Calgary Flames, is shown in Calgary, Thursday, March 12, 2020. The final three games of Canada's Secret Cup women's hockey tournament will be played in Calgary's NHL arena.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Secret Cup women’s tournament final games to be held in Calgary’s Saddledome

Secret Cup women’s tournament final games to be held in Calgary’s Saddledome

FILE - In this Thursday, July 18, 2019 file photo, Ron Francis talks to reporters in Seattle after he was introduced as the first general manager for Seattle's yet-to-be-named NHL hockey expansion team. Four years since George McPhee was a “puppet master” of the NHL leading up to the Vegas expansion draft, general managers approached this trade deadline with Seattle’s upcoming addition to the league in mind. While Kraken GM Ron Francis prepares – and maybe made a handshake deal or two already like McPhee did – Seattle was on his colleagues’ minds.(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Kraken still plan to hire coach before expansion draft

Kraken still plan to hire coach before expansion draft

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney attends a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Simmering internal discontent in his United Conservative caucus has boiled over into an open challenge to his leadership. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Two Alberta UCP members kicked out of caucus after challenging Kenney’s leadership

Two Alberta UCP members kicked out of caucus after challenging Kenney’s leadership

Toronto Blue Jays' Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (13) celebrates in the outfield at the end of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Thursday, May 13, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Bichette, Blue Jays rally again to beat Braves 8-4

Bichette, Blue Jays rally again to beat Braves 8-4

FILE - Jordan Spieth waits his turn to putt during the third round of the Valero Texas Open golf tournament in San Antonio, in this Saturday, April 3, 2021, file photo. Spieth will try to complete the career Grand Slam next week at the PGA Championship. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas, File)
Momentum for McIlroy, few others going into PGA Championship

Momentum for McIlroy, few others going into PGA Championship

Most Read