Thirty Black screen industry creators from British Columbia and Alberta have been selected to each receive $20,000 in production funding, mentorship and training through the TELUS STORYHIVE Black Creators Edition.
The funding is aimed at addressing the under-representation of Black voices in the Canadian screen and television business. It seeks to help jumpstart the careers of those with no experience as well as emerging creators in the television and film industries.
“The longstanding systemic inequities in Canada’s screen industries have disadvantaged Black creators,” said Black Screen Office (BSO) executive director Joan Jenkinson in a media release announcing the grants.
“There is a long, rich history of Black engagement in Canadian life — as celebrated every Black History Month — yet Black voices and perspectives are conspicuously absent on Canadian screens.
“Canadians of all ethnicities want to see their stories authentically portrayed in our entertainment. The TELUS STORYHIVE Black Creators Edition will not only support emerging Black talent and help build a pipeline for more stories from these communities, it will also put Black-led works in front of audiences that are craving them.”
The BSO’s goals are to: make Canada’s screen industries’ practices and policies equitable and free of anti-Black racism; work collaboratively with decision-makers to develop tools and strategies that enable system-level engagement and accountability; and empower Black Canadians working within the screen industries to thrive and share their stories.
Through collaborative initiatives like the Black Creators Edition, the BSO is working to connect Black creators and screen industry professionals with resources, development programs and relationships that will cultivate strong pipelines of talent within the industry.
TELUS STORYHIVE has supported more than 18,000 local content creators across B.C. and Alberta since 2013, providing more than $11 million in funding and creating a safe space for storytellers to hone their skills and bring the projects they care about to life.
A selection committee composed of members from the Black community considered a number of factors in choosing the first Black Creators Edition grantees, including the impact of the fund on the creator and the importance of the story to the creator’s community of residence.
Each recipient will receive funds to create a short documentary, web pilot series or digital short. TELUS STORYHIVE’s Black Creators Edition will also support filmmaking mentorship and training as well as distribution of the creators’ projects on TELUS Optik TV and select TELUS platforms.
“We are excited to honour, spotlight and amplify the voices, stories and lived experiences of Black creators and their communities,” said Cameron Zinger, director of TELUS Local Content, in the release.
“Black History Month presents an opportunity for us to acknowledge and celebrate Black artists. We are proud to partner with the Black Screen Office to contribute to empowering the next generation of Black creators.”
The Black Creators Edition initially intended to provide 20 grants to Black video content creators, but TELUS STORYHIVE recognized the high quality and number of submissions it received and increased its funds and recipient count to 30.
“Being selected for TELUS STORYHIVE’s Black Creators Edition is both a blessing and an honour,” said Marlon Wilson, a grant recipient and creator of The Untouchable Crew, in the release. “Getting a grant is one thing but also getting mentorship to help develop your craft is a bonus.
“I feel this edition will help shape the future of Black creators in British Columbia and Alberta. Traditionally we have had to rely on other communities to tell and share our stories for us. Opportunities like this will teach us how to tell and share our stories which in turn helps us control our image as a talent within the industry.”
The Black Creators Edition grant recipients are:
- Adebayo Chris Katiiti;
- Alex Eskandarkhah;
- Amadou Diallo;
- Amira Anderson;
- Chukwumuobi Obasi;
- Dae Shields;
- Daniel Code;
- David Opoku-otoo;
- Emilia Eyo;
- Faris Taha;
- Ilhan Abdullahi;
- Ivan Touko;
- Jae Sterling;
- Janessa St. Pierre;
- Joel Brewster;
- Julio Montero;
- Kamika Bianca Guerra-Walker;
- Leslie Bangamba;
- Love Nwigwe;
- Marlon Wilson;
- Misha Maseka;
- Oseremen Irete;
- Parris JuRay;
- Rochelle-Ann Thomas;
- Rose Patterson;
- Sammy Golom;
- Sandro Augusto Santos Silva;
- Steeven Sampassa;
- Tafadzwa Matamba;
- and Vanessa Fajemisin.