It was a challenge just getting actors to agree to participate in this video project. For the first time, they were being asked to share their personal experiences on camera of being a racialized performer in a very tight-knit film and TV community. That’s not easy. They didn’t want to be stereotyped as just being able to portray a character who is solely based on ethnicity. What actor would? But the realities of a racialized performer are the limited parameters within which we’ve been working for years. The face of television and movies are changing but equitable representation still matters. The goal of this video project was to create a way to share and amplify this conversation.
The idea for our video project came to light when our UBCP/ACTRA Diversity and Inclusion Committee asked its members what they wanted to accomplish. Up until then, our initiatives had included a mentorship program, a Live Diversity Read: actors of colour performing a staged reading of a Friends episode. That was an incredible, energetic and entertaining event!
Diversity and Inclusion Committee roundtable featuring Sabrina Furminger (moderator), Murry Peeters, Rukiya Bernard, Omari Newton, Catherine L. Haggquist, Adrian Holmes, Angela Moore and Alvin Sanders, published on UBCP/ACTRA’s Youtube channel on December 14, 2017.
It was quite difficult to talk about some of the issues we had always kept to ourselves.
Inspired by the Hollywood Reporter’s roundtable series, we filmed our first roundtable discussion in 2016 featuring African-Canadian performers: Alvin Sanders (UBCP/ACTRA Past President), Catherine Lough Haqquist, Omari Newton (our first Committee chair), myself, and members Adrian Holmes, Rukiya Bernard and Murry Peeters. For this first project, we were grateful for our wide representation of age, gender and experience. We decided to shoot more videos and post them online so decision-makers in our industry – from studio executives to casting directors to audiences – could learn and benefit from hearing of the challenges our participating actors have faced over the course of their careers.
Coming together as performers to share our experiences was a great way for us to illustrate some of the unique challenges we had faced and to share our inspirational insights. It was quite difficult to talk about some of the issues we had always kept to ourselves. It’s been a challenge to move beyond stereotypical service roles in narratives written by the dominant Eurocentric culture to creating our own authentic stories and characters. With the progress that has been made in recent years, we want to encourage young actors to take a deeper look into how they are crafting their own careers.
Middle Eastern/North African (MENA) performers roundtable featuring Anousha Alamian, Mozhdah Jamalzadah, Michael Benyaer, Medina Hahn, Omari Newton (moderator), Patrick Sabongui, Carmel Amit and Marcus Youssef.
I wanted to take the lessons we learned from our inaugural African-Canadian roundtable to improve our next roundtable featuring East Asian and Middle Eastern/North African (MENA) performers. We only had a budget for editing costs so we had to rely on the contributions of others for all of our production needs. Thanks to producer and actor Patrick Sabongui (The Flash, Homeland), Leslie Parmar (who handled communications), and Sue Brouse, UBCP/ACTRA Director of Member Services, Communication and Community Relations, we managed to get all of the actors together in one spot for our one-day shoot. My job was to bring food and direct all actors and action for the day.
Patrick teamed up with the amazing Miles Forster at Hadron Studios who provided us with a free studio we could use on the weekend and with an amazing crew who volunteered their time. We had student filmmakers and one sound guy who was literally dripping with sweat trying to mic everyone and handle all of the sound recordings on his own. Patrick even brought his Persian carpet from home to offset the starkness of the all-white set.
The Leo Awards were taking place that same evening so we had to work quickly so everyone who needed to be at the Awards could get there. Leslie Parmar checked-in the first group of actors and handled everything outside of the studio. I directed them once they hit the set and Patrick managed the technical side and crew. We all worked together as a team to successfully get through the day. It was crazy but we did it!
East Asian performers roundtable featuring Benita Ha, Thai-Hoa Le, Mayumi Yoshida, Rukiya Bernard (moderator), Raugi Yu, Valerie Sing Turner and Hiro Kanagawa, published on UBCP/ACTRA’s Youtube channel on November 13, 2018.
People didn’t always agree, but frankly, it only made things more interesting.
We just let the cameras roll and our members said whatever they wanted to say. People didn’t always agree, but frankly, it only made things more interesting. It’s worth noting it’s rare for us to even have a chance to gather like this to have these discussions. Our members were inspiring and amazingly generous with their time. Our goal is for us to get better and better at producing these videos. We want our diverse membership to be represented as an integral part of our entertainment community. Indigenous, LGBTQ, performers with disabilities and racialized performers have to face racism and constant micro-aggressions in a difficult and highly competitive industry. By coming together, and even by challenging each other, we get to share our experiences as fully actualized artists in an industry we love so much.
Middle Eastern/North African (MENA) performers roundtable featuring Anousha Alamian, Mozhdah Jamalzadah, Michael Benyaer, Medina Hahn, Omari Newton (moderator), Patrick Sabongui, Carmel Amit and Marcus Youssef, published on UBCP/ACTRA’s Youtube channel on November 13, 2018.
Many thanks to UBCP/ACTRA’s president Keith Martin Gordey and to the Executive for their continued support as we press forward with this series. Watch the videos on UBCP/ACTRA’s YouTube Channel and stay tuned for more later this year.
Angela Moore has been a professional actress in film, TV and theatre for over 25 years. Notable performances include guest-starring roles in the Netflix series A Series of Unfortunate Events, Riverdale and Supergirl, and recurring roles on the ABC series The Good Doctor and Antoine Fuqua’s ICE. Feature credits include The Layover and Hallmark’s Along Came a Nanny. In 2016, Angela was nominated for a Leo Award in the Best Supporting Actress category for the web series, CODED. Within UBCP/ACTRA, Angela currently serves as a Director on the Executive Board, Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and a member of the Women’s Committee.