Admission: $5 at the door / Free for Badge & Pass Holders
With American TV networks embracing diverse stories and casting, where does the Canadian entertainment industry stand? Canadian actors, writers, directors, and producers come together to debate the current state of affairs, obstacles they face, and what the future holds in terms of diversity on our screens.
Moderator: Grace Lynn Kung, Actor/Writer
Deanna Cadette, Policy Analyst & Director, Bell Media Diverse Screenwriters Program, Writers Guild of Canada (WGC)
Sadiya Durrani, Writer
Sedina Fiati, Performer/Artist, ACTRA Diversity Committee Co-Chair
Kathleen Meek, Production Executive, Drama & Feature Film, Independent Production, Bell Media
Nicole Mendes, Executive in Charge of Production – Drama, CBC
Austin Wong, Producer/Director
Nathalie Younglai, Producer/Writer
inkcanada – canadian screenwriters & their sketchy friends
The North American Association of Asian Professionals – Toronto Chapter (NAAAP)
Deanna Cadette is the Policy Analyst at the Writers Guild of Canada where she examines business, public policy and regulatory matters related to the screen-based media industry. She is also Director of the Bell Media Diverse Screenwriters Program which the WGC delivers. This program aims to broaden the diversity of the professional Canadian screenwriting community. Deanna has an MA in Public Policy and a BA in Journalism as well as 10 years’ experience working directly on Canadian and foreign film and television productions.
Sadiya Durrani was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. As stand up comic, Durrani performed for audiences ranging from 250 to 6000 in Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Sadiya performed at the 2004-05 ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) Annual Convention, which is the largest gathering of Muslims in North America and the third largest in the world. She opened for Azhar Usman (from the “Allah Made Me Funny” comedy tour) in front of an audience of 6000+. She headlined an event called “Muslim Women Gone Wild” at American University in Washington, DC (approx. 250 students) in 2009. Durrani acted as a consultant to CBC’s Little Mosque on the Prairie for two seasons before she joined the writing staff for Season 5 and 6 as an Executive Story Editor and penned four episodes. She was also a Story Editor on Degrassi Season XIII and YTV’s How to be Indie Season 2, where she penned two episodes. She most recently worked on Sunnyside, a sketch comedy series that will air on CityTV in 2015.
Sedina Fiati is a multidisciplinary performer, creator, and producer for stage and screen. She is the co-chair of ACTRA Toronto’s Diversity Committee and holds a BFA in Music Theatre from the University of Windsor. She is currently in pre production for 3 short films called The Rexdale Trilogy and has appeared in and created various media projects.
Kathleen Meek is a production executive in the drama department of Bell Media’s independent production team. She works on the development and production of original scripted series such as the recently launched Sensitive Skin and Transporter and has held a similar role on various original series for The Movie Network and CTV such as Call Me Fitz, Funny as Hell, Less Than Kind, Rogue and Degrassi: the Next Generation. She is also involved in the pre-licensing of Canada feature film for Bell Media’s pay TV service, the Movie Network.
Nicole Mendes has spent the past five years working in Commissioned and Scripted Programming at the CBC. Currently, as Executive in Charge of Production for the Drama Department, she oversees projects in production and development for dramatic one-hour series, limited series, miniseries, movies of the week and specials, including Murdoch Mysteries and the upcoming The Book of Negroes. Nicole is a graduate of McGill University (English, Cultural Studies) and the Humber Television Writing and Producing programme.
Austin Wong is a Chinese-Canadian filmmaker. He has worked in the Canadian film industry for the last 14 years at such companies as Rhombus Media, Alliance, and Lionsgate. He was a producer of Bruce McDonald’s feature film “This Movie is Broken” and was Associate Producer for such features as Fernando Meirelles’ “Blindness” and Paul Gross’s “Passchendaele”. The short film “Gaysian” is his writing and directorial debut.
Nathalie Younglai is a writer, director, producer and harpist. She was the writing mentor for the Reel Asian Film Festival’s Unsung Voices summer workshop for youth and founder of Toronto’s Writers of Colour in TV & Film. Her writing has been published in the Playback Magazine Online, Globe and Mail, Banana Magazine, Canadian Screenwriter and Rice Paper magazine. Her work can be seen on TESSA & SCOTT (W Network), TIL DEBT DO US PART (Slice, CNBC), PRINCESS (Slice, CNBC) and TOP CHEF CANADA (Food Network Canada). Her short, THE SOUND THAT BROKE THE SILENCE, premiered at the 2013 Reel World Film Festival. Nathalie was awarded a 2013 Ontario Arts Council playwriting grant, the 2013 Telefilm New Voices Award, the 2012 Global Writers Apprenticeship and inaugural 2011 WGC-CTV Diverse Screenwriters Program. She also interned in the ROGUE (Direct TV, TMN) writing room. Her short script SISTER WARS was in development with 2012 “Writing Women” incubator series. She recently survived a round of pitching broadcasters with eOne and showrunner Daphne Ballon, and lives to tell it the tale. Nathalie continues to defy the Asian dream by not becoming a doctor.
Grace Lynn Kung is a Canadian Screen Award nominee for Best Leading Comedic Actress, and has studied in England and Canada. She is a graduate of the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama (Chancellor’s Trophy recipient), York University (two time awardee – Award for Acting) and holds two Certificates of Distinction for Speech and Drama from Trinity College London in the United Kingdom.
For screen: Slings and Arrows, Being Erica, Bank$tas, Away From Her, George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight, Remedy, InSecurity, The Lottery, Hard Rock Medical, Hypercube, Blue State, The Listener, House Party, Degrassi TNG, Plague City, Billable Hours, Gspot, P2, One Week, Lost and Delirious.
For theatre: National tour of the award winning ‘Kim’s Convenience’ currently being adapted as a feature film and television series. She has performed at the National Arts Centre, with the Canadian Stage Company (Yukonstyle), Soulpepper (La Ronde, Kim’s Convenience), Judith Thompson (Blue Rivers), Canadian Rep/Factory Theatre (Problem Child), fu-Gen (Paper Series) and Nightwood Theatre for the world premiere of ‘a nanking winter’.
For voice: Grace has lent her voice to McCann Erickson in the UK, ‘Mother Up!’ in the US, ‘The Doozers,’ radio plays, Pirate Radio, international documentary ‘China Rises’ and Ubisoft’s upcoming video game (shh, it’s a secret..)