With diversity and inclusion hot-button topics, Tokens couldn’t be more timely. Or scathingly on point.
Created by Winnifred Jong, the digital seriesâ€”available online nowâ€”skewers representation in the entertainment industry through Tokens on Call, a casting agency that sends over actors of any stripe to a production in dire need of someone to fill a role. Whoever happens to be on call is sent, fulfilling the diversity quota for that project.
“This is a commentary on the fact that, because there are so many choices for every role, people tend to bring in people that they know,” Jong says during a recent phone call. “Until you try to create a change in the dynamic, there is no change.” For Sammie Pang (Connie Wang), that means being cast as a well-built tattooed bouncer who takes out her enemies using kung fu. Written, directed and produced by Jong and produced by Trinni Franke, the eight-part series stars a plethora of familiar faces in Sharron Matthews, Daniel Maslany, Shelley Thompson, Jonathan Cherry, Christina Song, Russell Yuen and Amy Matysio as members of Sammie’s family of part of the productions she works on.
One of the most outrageous scenes in Tokens finds Sammie, Demar (Ryan Allen) and Vasant (Gabe Grey) playing triplets in a scene. It’s giggle-inducing and outrageous and part of Jong’s commentary.
Known for directing episodes of Coroner and Private Eyes, the Frankie Drake digital series A Cold Case and Global’s upcoming medical drama, Nurses, Jong has been juggling makingÂ Tokens between paying gigs, and called on favours from actors to help her make it. She cast Matthewsâ€”the two worked together when Jong was a script supervisor on Frankie Drake Mysteriesâ€”after sending the flame-haired actress all eight episodeÂ scripts and letting her choose her favourite role.
“I told her, ‘If you want any role, you can have it,'” Jong recalls. “She came back and said, ‘I’d like to be Director No. 2.”
Season 1 of Tokens is available online now.
Images courtesy of A Token Entertainment Company.