Everything about Awards, eh?

Corner Gas, Paw Patrol and Bit Playas win during Night 2 of the 2021 Canadian Screen Awards

Corner Gas Animated and star Lorne Cardinal, PAW Patrol, Bit Playas and Canada’s a Drag were among those who captured trophies during Night 2 of 2021 Canadian Screen Awards Virtual Presentations.

Tuesday’s online ceremony celebrated Children’s and Animation Programming, narrated by voice actor Eric Bauza, and the Digital and Immersive categories, narrated by dancer Donté Colley.

Here are the winners in Tuesday’s key categories:

Best Performance, Animation
Lorne Cardinal, Corner Gas Animated

Best Animated Short
Hot Flash

Best Animated Program or Series
Corner Gas Animated

Best Performance, Children’s or Youth
Saara Chaudry, Dino Dana

Best Pre-School Program or Series
PAW Patrol

Best Children’s or Youth Fiction Program or Series
Odd Squad Mobile Unit

Best Children’s or Youth Non-Fiction Program or Series
Our Kids, Their Questions: A Your Morning Coronavirus Special

Best Supporting Performance, Web Program or Series
Tricia Black, Band Ladies

Best Lead Performance, Web Program or Series
Jayne Eastwood, Hey Lady!

Best Host, Web Program or Series
Andrew Phung, The 2019 Canadian Improv Games with Andrew Phung

Best Immersive Experience
The Book of Distance

Best Video Game
We Happy Few: We All Fall Down

Best Web Program or Series, Fiction
Bit Playas

Best Web Program or Series, Non-Fiction
Canada’s a Drag

For the complete list of winners, visit the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television website.

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Banff World Media Festival reveals 2021 Rockie Award gala recipients

From a media release:

The Banff World Media Festival (BANFF) is proud to unveil this year’s exciting lineup of the Rockie Award Gala recipients including Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live, Kenan), Danielle Brooks (Mahalia, Orange is the New Black), Simu Liu (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Kim’s Convenience), Sinking Ship Entertainment and the team from ARRAY (Selma, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open) represented by Ava DuVernay, Tilane Jones, Regina Miller, Tammy Garnes & Dee Tuck.

Hosting the Festival’s flagship awards program is Jasmeet Raina, one of Canada’s most popular comedic talents and YouTube personality. The Rockie Awards ceremony, including both the International Program Competition winners and the Rockies Gala honours will stream live on YouTube at 3pm ET on Tuesday, June 15th

Rockies Gala Awards to be bestowed include:

SIR PETER USTINOV AWARD: Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live, Kenan)

The award recognizes a creative talent who has made an outstanding comedic contribution to the media industry. Past honorees include: Sean Hayes, John Cleese, Tracey Ullman, Bob Newhart, Tantoo Cardinal, John Candy and Bill Hader.

Kenan Thompson is currently in his 18th season on Saturday Night Live as the show’s longest-running cast member. He also stars in and executive produces the new NBC comedy Kenan.

Thompson has made numerous contributions to SNL with his slew of hilarious impressions that include Rev. Al Sharpton, Charles Barkley, Steve Harvey and David Ortiz, and by playing memorable characters such as DJ Dynasty Handbag, the scathingly fierce co-host of Deep House Dish, Weekend Update correspondent Jean K. Jean, Black Jeopardy host Darnell Hayes and Diondre Cole, the disruptive singing talk show host on the wildly popular sketch What Up With That. In 2018, he received the Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for the SNL song Come Back, Barack and was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 2018 and 2020.  Thompson also received an Emmy nomination in 2017 for co-writing Last Christmas from the popular Jingle Barack sketch. 

A native of Atlanta, Thompson made his television debut as a member of Nickelodeon’s all-kid sketch comedy series All That. Thompson now serves as an executive producer on Nickelodeon’s 2019 All That reboot. He and Kel Mitchell debuted on the spinoff Kenan and Kel in 1996.

His past projects include Hubie Halloween, Snakes on a Plane, Wieners and The Magic of Belle Isle. Other feature film credits include Fat Albert, D2: The Mighty Ducks, Good Burger, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Brother Nature, Heavyweights, My Boss’s Daughter, Barbershop 2, Going in Style and They Came Together.

Thompson showcased his voice talents The Grinch, Trolls World Tour, Wonder Park, The Smurfs, The Smurfs 2 and Space Chimps, and Rock Dog, the television series Sit Down, Shut Up and The Awesomes. Upcoming projects include Paramount’s Clifford the Big Red Dog and the Disney+ Home Alone reboot.

A+E INCLUSION AWARD:  Danielle Brooks (Mahalia, Orange is the New Black)

The A+E Inclusion Award recognizes an individual whose efforts and vision in media champion and reflect the diversity of the world in which we live. Past Honorees include: LeVar Burton, Jonathan Murray and Elizabeth Vargas.

Danielle Brooks is best known for her role as “Tasha ‘Taystee’ Jefferson” in the Netflix Emmy-nominated series, Orange Is The New Black. The Hollywood Reporter included Brooks’ season 7 performance in their list of ‘The Best TV Performances of 2019.’ For her performance, Brooks was nominated for a NAACP Image Award for “Best Actress in a Comedy Series” as well as a Satellite Award for “Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture made for Television.” Danielle was also the recipient of the Young Hollywood Award for “Breakthrough Actress” and nominated for a NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series”. Brooks received the Screen Actors Guild Award for “Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series” three years in a row.

Brooks made her Broadway debut in the Tony-winning revival of The Color Purple. For her performance, she was nominated for a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, and received a Grammy Award and Theatre World Award for “Significant Broadway Debut.” 

Brooks most recently starred as ‘Mahalia Jackson’ in Robin Roberts Presents: The Mahalia Jackson Story on Lifetime. The biopic, directed by Kenny Leon, traced Jackson’s life and career as she became arguably the best-known gospel singer in the mid-20th century and a civil rights activist who sang at the 1963 March on Washington. Brooks is currently filming HBO Max’s Suicide Squad spin-off Series Peacemaker in which she will play ‘Leota Adebayo.

Brooks appeared in Netflix’s docuseries titled A Little Bit Pregnant The docuseries aired on Netflix’s YouTube and social media pages and followed Brooks’ pregnancy journey as she asked and answered all the questions on soon-to-be parents’ minds.

Recent work includes a leading role in Chris Morris’ Clemency opposite Alfre Woodard, Wendell Pierce and Aldis Hodge, a leading role in the independent feature All The Little Things We Kill, a leading role in the independent feature, Sadie opposite Melanie Lynsky, a series lead role in the upcoming TBS primetime animated series Close Enough, a recurring role on Aziz Ansari’s Emmy-winning, Netflix comedy series, Master of None and guest leading roles on HBO’s High Maintenance and Girls. Brooks also voiced two characters for Sony’s Angry Birds, and previously starred in Oren Moverman’s Time Out Of Mind and the independent feature, I Dream Too Much, which premiered at SXSW. 

Brooks released her four-track EP entitled Four in 2019. She co-wrote the four songs, which include “Seasons,” which was featured in the series finale of Orange Is The New Black.

In 2019, Brooks was one of the faces of Lane Bryant’s “I’m No Angel” Campaign alongside Ashley Graham and released a clothing line with Universal Standard. Danielle was the face of Christian Siriano’s debut Spring capsule collection for Lane Bryant and was the face of Lane Bryant’s Fall Campaign that same year.

Brooks is on the Artistic Board of Urban Arts Partnership, which advances the intellectual, social and artistic development of underserved public-school students through arts-integrated education programs to close the achievement gap.

Brooks grew up in South Carolina and is a graduate of The Julliard School. She currently resides in NYC.

CANADIAN AWARD OF DISTINCTION: Simu Liu (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Kim’s Convenience)

Presented by the Canada Media Fund (CMF/FMC) and MadeNous, the award is given to a Canadian whose body of work exemplifies outstanding achievement in the entertainment industry. Past Honorees include:  Just For Laughs, Eric McCormack, Kim Cattrall and Sheila Hockin.

Simu Liu is a Canadian-Chinese talent who is Marvel’s next leading man in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opposite Tony Leung and Awkwafina. He most recently wrapped a leading role opposite Mark Wahlberg in Simon Cellan Jones/Lionsgate’s Arthur the King. He can be seen in Lissette Feliciano’s SXSW directorial debut, Women Is Losers.

He’s most well-known for his starring role as ‘Jung’ in the CBC/Netflix hit, Kim’s Convenience. Other credits include Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens, Fresh Off the Boat, The Expanse, Designated Survivor, Taken, Blood & Water, and Orphan Black. He is an outspoken activist, passionate on Asian representation, identity and culture.

INNOVATIVE PRODUCER AWARD: Sinking Ship Entertainment (Dino Dana, Odd Squad, Endlings)

Presented by Lionsgate, the Innovative Producer Award recognizes the entrepreneurial excellence and achievements of an independent producer in TV/digital media. Past honorees include: Wattpad Studios, Scott Brothers Entertainment, New Metric Media, Wolf + Rabbit, Don Carmody and marblemedia.

Sinking Ship Entertainment is a multi-award-winning production, distribution, and interactive company specializing in family and kids’ live-action and CGI-blended content. Since its founding in 2004 by J.J. Johnson, Blair Powers and Matt Bishop, Sinking Ship has produced more than 17 series and 500 hours of content, distributed to more than 200 countries around the world. With a global reputation for quality, groundbreaking original series and companion interactive experiences, Sinking Ship has won 21 Daytime Emmy® Awards, including Outstanding Pre-School Children’s Series for Dino Dan: Trek’s Adventures (Nickelodeon), Outstanding Children’s or Family Viewing for Odd Squad (PBS KIDS), Outstanding Children’s or Family Viewing for Ghostwriter (Apple TV+) and Outstanding Education or Informational Series for Giver (ION). International awards include a 2019 BAFTA for Odd Squad and multiple Canadian Screen Awards, Youth Media Alliance Awards, Parents Choice Awards, the Shaw Rocket Prize, and the Prix Jeunesse International. In 2020, Sinking Ship was also named as the number one Kids’ Entertainment Production Company on Kidscreen’s Hot50 list. Among the series currently in production are the third season of the worldwide success, Odd Squad, as well as the upcoming new series, Jane, inspired by and co-produced alongside renowned primatologist Jane Goodall. Currently in pre-production is the series Builder Brothers Dream Factory, in partnership with Scott Brothers Entertainment. In addition to its critically-acclaimed productions, Sinking Ship operates a cutting-edge VFX and Interactive Studio, creating multi-platform digital experiences and interactive content for audiences around the globe. For more information, visit the Sinking Ship website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER IMPACT AWARD:  The team from ARRAY (Selma, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, Lingua Franca) includingAva DuVernay, Tilane Jones, Regina Miller, Tammy Garnes & Dee Tuck

This award is bestowed annually to an individual or group who has made a significant and impactful contribution to screen-based entertainment. Past honorees include: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, David Shore, accepting on behalf of ​The Good Doctor; Anthony Anderson, accepting on behalf of ​black-ish; and Justin Simien accepting on behalf of Dear White People.

The narrative change non-profit organization ARRAY Alliance has launched ARRAY Crew, a personnel database for Hollywood’s below-the-line crew members with a special focus on the amplification of women, people of color and other underrepresented film and television professionals. Created by filmmaker Ava DuVernay and led by an all-women executive team, ARRAY Crew currently boasts nearly 6,000 crew members and more than 300 productions utilizing the database. Production partners have access to search and view profiles for diverse below-the-line talent, enabling hiring managers and line producers to find thousands of candidates across 500+ job titles in over 45 departments on a per project basis. ARRAY Crew is supported by every major studio and streaming service, including founding partner WarnerMedia, Amazon Studios, Apple TV+, FOX, Lionsgate, NBC Universal, Netflix, Paramount Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment, ViacomCBS and Walt Disney Studios. ARRAY Crew currently features U.S. based profiles with plans to expand to select international markets in late 2021.

“This year’s Rockies Gala honourees exemplify not just incredible work, but also contributions to the entertainment industry and to society,” said Jenn Kuzmyk, Executive Director of the Banff World Media Festival. “Each recipient has demonstrated excellence, innovation, creativity and empathy, making choices about the projects they work on and the impact that they can have on the world. We are honoured to recognize such outstanding talent.”    

Additional awards to be presented at the ceremony include:

PROGRAM OF THE YEAR: The Program of the Year award is presented to an outstanding, critically acclaimed, ground-breaking, and/or highly rated program from within the last calendar year. Past recipients include: This is Us, Handmaid’s Tale, Making a Murderer and Surviving R. Kelly.

THE GRAND JURY PRIZE: The Grand Jury Prize is awarded to the highest scoring project in the Rockies Program Competition by the festival’s specially appointed Grand Jury of industry executives. Past recipients include:  Big Little Lies, Planet Earth II and Sharp Objects.

In addition, the Festival is arranging virtual Rockie Awards Roundtables with select nominees from programs such as: Alone, Love on the Spectrum, Filthy Rich and Homeless, The Last Ice, Noughts + Crosses, I May Destroy You, About Sex, El Presidente and more. More details will be available in the coming weeks on the full agenda HERE.

Taking place online from June 14 – July 16, the Banff World Media Festival attracts the world’s top creators, producers, showrunners, talent, networks, studios, streamers, press, and media companies. The 2021 virtual edition of the Festival is poised to build on the success of last year’s virtual event, with an all-new purpose-built online platform that will facilitate thousands of real-time meetings, chat, personalized video suites, a project lounge, multiple events, keynotes, master classes and panels as well as a thriving online delegate lounge. It is the world’s most effective online market for development, co-productions, and business development, connecting the global media industry to ignite new projects and support new ventures.

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Canadian Screen Award nominees: Joseph Kay and Roger Cross

It’s Canadian Screen Awards week and we’re celebrating all week long in a very special way. We’ll feature exclusive interviews with the actors and creative folks who are nominated in the television and web series categories.

Today, it’s Joseph Kay, nominated for Best Writing, Drama Series for Transplant, which is also nominated in the Best Drama Series category; and Roger Cross, nominated for 2021 Best Lead Actor, Drama Series for Coroner.

Joseph Kay, nominated for Best Writing, Drama Series for Transplant, which is also nominated in the Best Drama Series category

Congratulations on your Canadian Screen Award nominations!
Thanks so much!

How do you feel the Canadian TV industry is faring during these pandemic times?
We’ve found ways to make production work despite the restrictions. A shout out to the resiliency of our cast and crew on Transplant’s second season for working in such different ways than we were all previously accustomed. Hopefully in the coming months we hear news across our business of more and more new shows being ordered.

How have you fared during these pandemic times?
Thankfully, I’ve been able to take my pandemic angst and channel it into the writing of a medical series. Although we’re not factoring COVID into the second season of Transplant, we’ve explored themes relevant to the experience which has helped all of our creative team contemplate the way we’re feeling about the year we’ve had.

Do you think Canadian TV is stronger than ever when it comes to telling our stories?
Definitely. It’s been exciting to watch our audiences expand. And while there is still plenty more work to be done to foster this, our creative community is widening to include new voices and points of view.

Does an award nomination/win serve as validation for you or is it just a nice nod that you’re on the right track, career or choice-wise?
I’ve always said that the work is its own reward, and I have to stick to that now or I’ll have been lying all these years! But seriously, the most rewarding part for me is that, win or lose, the nominations help our whole team (cast, crew, networks) feel excited and proud of the work we’re doing together.

What will you wear during the Canadian Screen Awards?
Either a tuxedo or my pajamas. Still deciding.

What will you eat/drink/snack on during the Canadian Screen Awards?
Bourbon and chicken wings, no doubt about it.

Is there someone who served as a mentor when you were starting out in this industry that you’d give a special shout-out to in your acceptance speech if given the chance?
My first mentor in this industry was George F. Walker and I’d be thrilled to get the chance to give him a shout out!

Roger Cross, nominated for 2021 Best Lead Actor, Drama Series for Coroner

How do you feel the Canadian TV industry is faring during these pandemic times?
The Canadian TV industry seems to have recovered and is thriving since the pandemic began.
 
How have you fared during these pandemic times?
Like most, the first few months were a bit uncertain, but I was blessed to spend that quality time with my family! And we’ve since filmed Season 3 of Coroner. I’m currently finishing a feature film Heatwave, I’m about to go shoot A Christmas Letter with my friend David Lipper, then film a great indie film Uniting with a wonderful cast. So, I’ve been blessed during this time.
 
Do you think Canadian TV is stronger than ever when it comes to telling our stories?
Most definitely. Schitt’s Creek is definitely leading the way, and shows like ours are also making great headway in the U.S. and around the world.
 
Does an award nomination/win serve as validation for you or is it just a nice nod that you’re on the right track, career or choice-wise?
I think true validation only comes from within. But of course, this nomination is an honour, and it feels great to be recognized by your peers and the Canadian Academy!
 
What will you wear during the Canadian Screen Awards?
Hmmmmm….Tux up top, boxers down below.
 
What will you eat/drink/snack on during the Canadian Screen Awards?
Pizza and beer. Maybe a glass of wine as well.
 
Is there someone who served as a mentor when you were starting out in this industry that you’d give a special shout-out to in your acceptance speech if given the chance?
Though I’ve never met the man, Sidney Poitier is someone I’ve always looked up to and admired. The dignity and joy with which he carried himself and the kind of roles he chose to do during such troubling times, spoke volumes to me.

Stream the Canadian Screen Awards on the Academy websiteTwitter and YouTube.

Check out the list of nominees.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021
7 p.m. ET: Canadian Screen Awards – Children’s & Animation, Presented by Shaw Rocket Fund (Narrator: Eric Bauza)

8 p.m. ET: Canadian Screen Awards – Digital & Immersive, Presented with the participation of the Independent Production Fund (Narrator: Donté Colley)

Wednesday, May 19, 2021
7 p.m. ET: CTV presents the Canadian Screen Awards – Creative Arts & Performance (Narrator: Tyrone Edwards)

Thursday, May 20, 2021
7 p.m. ET: Canadian Screen Awards – Cinematic Arts, Presented by Telefilm Canada, Supported by Cineplex (Narrator: Nahéma Ricci)

8 p.m. ET: 2021 Canadian Screen Awards (Narrators: Stephan James and Karine Vanasse)

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Mary’s Kitchen Crush, Canada’s Drag Race and Lisa LaFlamme win during Night 1 of the 2021 Canadian Screen Awards

Mary’s Kitchen Crush and its star, Mary Berg, along with Canada’s Drag Race and its hosts and CTV National News with Lisa Laflamme were among the individuals and programs to win during Night 1 of 2021 Canadian Screen Awards Virtual Presentations.

The first portion of the stripped-down celebration focused on News and Documentary, narrated by journalist Ginella Massa, followed by Lifestyle and Reality categories narrated by Canada’s Drag Race Season 1 winner Priyanka.

Here are the winners in Monday’s key categories:

Best News or Information Series
CBC News: The Fifth Estate

Best News Anchor, Local
Dwight Drummond, CBC News Toronto at 6

Best Local Newscast
CityNews at 6

Best News Anchor, National
Lisa LaFlamme, CTV National News with Lisa LaFlamme

Best National Newscast
CTV National News with Lisa LaFlamme

Best Biography or Arts Documentary Program or Series
Best Wishes, Warmest Regards: A Schitt’s Creek Farewell

Best History Documentary Program or Series
Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Best Factual Series
You Can’t Ask That

Best Documentary Program
Hockey Mom

Best Talk Program or Series
CBC News: Power & Politics

Best Performing Arts Program
We’re Funny That Way: The Virtual Pride Special

Best Morning Show
Breakfast Television

Best Host, Lifestyle
Mary Berg, Mary’s Kitchen Crush

Best Host or Presenter, Factual or Reality/Competition
Brooke Lynn Hytes, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Stacey McKenzie, Canada’s Drag Race

Best Lifestyle Program or Series
Mary’s Kitchen Crush

Best Reality/Competition Program or Series
Canada’s Drag Race

For the complete list of winners, visit the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television website.

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Canadian Screen Award nominees: Sharron Matthews and Vanessa Matsui

It’s Canadian Screen Awards week and we’re celebrating all week long in a very special way. We’ll feature exclusive interviews with the actors and creative folks who are nominated in the television and web series categories.

First up: Sharron Matthews, nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Drama for Frankie Drake Mysteries, and Vanessa Matsui, nominated for Best Lead Performance, Web Program or Series for Ghost BFF.

Sharron Matthews, nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Drama for Frankie Drake Mysteries

How do you feel the Canadian TV industry is faring during these pandemic times?
The beginning of the pandemic was…strange, to say the least…but after our first lockdown, I went straight into TWO writers rooms, so we just kept doing what we always do in the arts…creating through adverse times. Artists and arts administrators are used to calamity and since the TV and Film industry doesn’t perform in front of large groups of people, we collectively did some recon, and kept going, kept creating. Then I feel like the TV and Film industry really pulled together and figured out a safe, secure way to physically make TV in the face of great challenges. This is what I love about the arts, it always finds a way to survive and thrive. Shout out to the stage and live theatre makers, who have pivoted and found innovative ways to express themselves and have their work be seen.

How have you fared during these pandemic times?
I’m grateful beyond measure that I had Frankie Drake Mysteries and the animated show Rebecca Liddiard (Mary Shaw on Frankie), Carmen Albano (Detention Adventure) and I created with Shaftesbury (Mary and Flo on the Go), to work on from almost the beginning of the pandemic. I spent most of the time up until we went to camera on both Frankie and Mary and Flo, writing and developing scripts for both shows, so I kept myself singularly focused on work … away from the uncertainty of the world around me. I have done my VERY best to stay positive. Some days have been better than others.

Do you think Canadian TV is stronger than ever when it comes to telling our stories?
I believe that Canadian writers and creators have become braver in expressing our unique comedic and dramatic voices. With worldwide successes such as Kim’s Convenience, Schitt’s Creek, Workin’ Moms, and even Frankie Drake Mysteries (if I may) it feels like we have realized that we don’t have to morph our visions to fit the gaze of other countries. Stories told from a Canadian perspective with a distinctly Canadian sense of humour or pathos have become sought after, which is thrilling and has laid the groundwork for an exciting and fertile future.

Does an award nomination/win serve as validation for you or is it just a nice nod that you’re on the right track, career or choice-wise?
Oh my gosh … I would be lying if I said being nominated by a group of your peer wasn’t validating. It is. It really is. I am thrilled.

What will you wear during the Canadian Screen Awards?
I will be watching all the nights with my bubble pal, Mike Bickerton (nominated for his showrunning work on Canada’s Drag Race) and I’m fairly sure we’ll be wearing caftans. Large, billowing caftans. So, basically? We will be dressed in something we bought off the internet.

What will you eat/drink/snack on during the Canadian Screen Awards?
I’m a Hamilton girl forever, so I’m not too fancy. Chips and wine. I’m a simple gal.

Is there someone who served as a mentor when you were starting out in this industry that you’d give a special shout-out to in your acceptance speech if given the chance?
If I had the chance to give an acceptance speech, the first person I would thank is the indomitable Christina Jennings, head of Shaftesbury and producer of Frankie Drake Mysteries. She’s been a supportive force in my life since the day I started on Frankie. Since then, she’s answered every question I have asked about writing and producing, encouraging me to not have limits when it comes to creating. She sets an example not just for female producers but for producers in general, about how to be tenacious and think big. She’s taught me to give pause, time and energy to ideas that spark the soul, because if they don’t work out … there is a good chance those ideas may lead to greater, more fulfillable ideas. Christina leaves no piece of energy or innovation wasted. THANK YOU, CHRISTINA!!!

Vanessa Matsui, nominated for Best Lead Performance, Web Program or Series for Ghost BFF

Congratulations on your Canadian Screen Award nomination!
Thank you!!

How do you feel the Canadian web series industry is faring during these pandemic times?
Shooting, in general, is challenging right now, so indie filmmaking is particularly challenging because so much of your budget is going to COVID precautions. Which I completely understand and appreciate. Also, I think we are going to see a surge of creations post-pandemic. Especially during that first wave, I’ve heard that so many writers and creators, myself included, finally had the time to write that thing that they’ve been wanting to write. So there may be some unintended POSITIVE consequences to shutting down the industry for a season.

How have you fared during these pandemic times?
Ha! Well, it’s been a roller coaster, to say the least. I feel like each wave came with its own challenges. I’m a mom, so losing my ‘village’ has frankly been traumatic. And I’m a lucky one! I have a home and a partner and I was able to go back to work relatively quickly compared to so many. But in some ways, I’m incredibly grateful for these times. I’m a different person now and I look back on pre-pandemic Vanessa as almost a child. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m definitely a better, more me person now.

Do you think Canadian web series is stronger than ever when it comes to telling our stories?
Yes! There are so many incredible web series right now that I’m such a big fan of. Band Ladies and Bit Playas come to mind immediately.

Does an award nomination/win serve as validation for you or is it just a nice nod that you’re on the right track, career or choice-wise?
It’s a really nice nod. I’m so happy that Kaniehtiio [Horn], Jean [Yoon], and Angela [Asher] were also nominated. I think four actresses being nominated for one show is just fabulous.

What will you wear during the Canadian Screen Awards?
Ha! Sweatpants. Sorry, not sorry.

What will you eat/drink/snack on during the Canadian Screen Awards?
Pizza and wine!

Is there someone who served as a mentor when you were starting out in this industry that you’d give a special shout-out to in your acceptance speech if given the chance?
An early supporter of Ghost BFF was Ana Serrano. I don’t think this show would have gotten as far as it did without her initial support. Also, my late acting teacher, Jacqueline McClintock, who always encouraged me to write and create my own work. She is in my heart whenever I step onto set.

Stream the Canadian Screen Awards on the Academy websiteTwitter and YouTube.

Check out the list of nominees.

Monday, May 17, 2021
7 p.m. ET: Canadian Screen Awards – News & Documentary, Presented by CBC (Narrator: Ginella Massa)

8 p.m. ET: CTV presents the Canadian Screen Awards – Lifestyle & Reality (Narrator: Priyanka)

Tuesday, May 18, 2021
7 p.m. ET: Canadian Screen Awards – Children’s & Animation, Presented by Shaw Rocket Fund (Narrator: Eric Bauza)

8 p.m. ET: Canadian Screen Awards – Digital & Immersive, Presented with the participation of the Independent Production Fund (Narrator: Donté Colley)

Wednesday, May 19, 2021
7 p.m. ET: CTV presents the Canadian Screen Awards – Creative Arts & Performance (Narrator: Tyrone Edwards)

Thursday, May 20, 2021
7 p.m. ET: Canadian Screen Awards – Cinematic Arts, Presented by Telefilm Canada, Supported by Cineplex (Narrator: Nahéma Ricci)

8 p.m. ET: 2021 Canadian Screen Awards (Narrators: Stephan James and Karine Vanasse)

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