Discover the comedically honest and heartwarming story of the CBC Gem original short-form series How to Fail as a Popstar in our panel discussion, "The Clumsy Art of Finding Yourself." Join us as we unravel the creative evolution of the series after the screening, which was adapted from Vivek Shraya's hit play and subsequent book, tracing its journey from page to stage to screen. Immerse yourself in Shraya’s story: a young queer brown boy from Edmonton trying (and failing) to achieve pop stardom, a protagonist that is so sincere and overly optimistic, you can’t help but laugh as Vivek stumbles. At the same time, you’re also rooting for them to win.

As we watch Vivek age and come into her own as a now-40-something trans feminine multidisciplinary artist, her childlike wonder and gumption never dwindles. Vivek’s will to get back up and try again is not only hilarious and honest, but hopeful. It’s hard not to feel inspired as an audience to reflect on our own childhood dreams we once cast aside. Don't miss this insightful conversation about adapting for film, the realities of the music industry, and the power of one’s intersecting identities.

How to Fail as a Popstar stars Shraya, Adrian Pavone (Star Trek: Discovery, 2017), and Chris D’Silva (The Handmaid’s Tale, 2017). It was written by Shraya and directed by Vanessa Matsui (Son of a Critch, 2022), with Shraya co-directing one episode. The series was produced by Sphere Media with the financial participation of the TELUS Fund, the Bell Fund, and the Shaw Rocket Fund.

This event will include a screening of the series' first three episodes, followed by a panel discussion moderated by JP Larocque, with panelists Vivek Shraya, Vanessa Matsui, and Ayesha Mansur Gonsalves.

All episodes of How to Fail as a Popstar are available to stream for free in Canada exclusively on CBC Gem.


JP Larocque
Producer, Screenwriter

JP Larocque (they/them) is a screenwriter and producer with experience in comedy (CBC’s Sort Of, CTV’s JANN), drama (CBC’s SkyMedDiggstown and Coroner), youth programming (Family Channel’s Home Sweet Rome, YTV’s Popularity Papers) and genre (Netflix’s Another Life, Shudder’s Slasher).

They are the creator and executive producer of the digital comedy series Gay Nerds on OUTtv. The Globe and Mail listed them among “the 25 most influential in Canadian television.”

As a journalist, JP has bylines in Maclean’s, The Walrus, The Toronto Star, Flare, This Magazine,  Xtra, and The Beaverton, with additional work in the anthologies City Voices: A Book of Monologues by Toronto Artists (2012), and The Secret Loves of Geeks (2018).

In 2023, alongside creatives Sara Peters, Shakil Jessa and Misha Solomon, JP co-founded Queering The Screen, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring workplace equity and safety for 2SLGBTQIA+ members of the Canadian screen industry.


Vivek Shraya
Artist, Creator

Vivek Shraya (she/her) is an artist whose body of work crosses the boundaries of music, literature, visual art, theatre, TV, film, and fashion.

She is the creator and writer of the new CBC Gem Original Series How to Fail as a Popstar, a Canadian Screen Awardwinner, and a Polaris Music Prize nominee. Her best-selling book I’m Afraid of Men was heralded by Vanity Fair as “cultural rocket fuel,” and she is the founder of the award-winning publishing imprint VS. Books, which supports emerging BIPOC writers.

Vivek has been a brand ambassador for MAC Cosmetics and Pantene, and she is a director on the board of the Tegan and Sara Foundation.

Vanessa Matsui
Director, Executive Producer

Vanessa Matsui (she/her) is a director-actor-writer and Midnight At The Paradise is her debut feature which has just been acquired by Paramount+. She is alumnae of the Sundance New Voices Lab where she developed the second season of her critically acclaimed hit web series Ghost BFF, which she created, wrote, directed for, and starred in.

Over two seasons, Ghost BFF was nominated for six Canadian Screen Awards including Best Digital Series and two nominations for Vanessa as an actor, it screened at festivals globally where it has won multiple awards including Best Web Series at the LA International Femme Film Festival.

She is currently serving as Executive Producer and series director for Sphere Media’s new series How To Fail As A Pop Star created by Vivek Shraya. She is also a guest director for Son Of A Critch (CBC, Paramount UK).

Ayesha Mansur Gonsalves

Ayesha Mansur Gonsalves (she/her) is a Canadian actress, born and raised in Toronto. She started her professional career as a dancer, training at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center in New York City.

After years of performing and creating in Toronto and New York, Ayesha graduated with a film degree from the City University of New York, Brooklyn College, after which she turned her attention to the craft of acting. She’s been on screens in the US and Canada ever since.

16 Nov, 2023 7:00 pm

Hot Docs Ted Rogers


Open Captioned icon ASL Provided icon Wheelchair/Step-Free Seating Available icon
The screening portions are presented with open captions. The panel discussion and Q&A will feature live-captioning and ASL interpretation. Wheelchair spaces and step-free seating is available for this screening – click below to book accessible seats.

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