ACTRA Toronto 2023 Council Elections

What actions are in the best interest of our members? If there's one priority for me, it's to keep asking that question; realizing that those answers may shift and morph as a result of greater understanding and changing circumstances. Let's build upon the great work of our predecessors while striving for continual growth. The membership contains a diversity of voices, as diverse as the number of members. Let's focus on our common ground and find those answers together as united we are stronger.

That's the statement I made in my bid for a seat in the ACTRA Toronto Council, within the 500 character limit we were each allotted. Allow me to expand on this and bring up a few more things.

First, a bit of background on my status as an ACTRA member. I've been a part of the union for around a decade now. Since then, I would attend the biannual conferences and the AGM meetings, learning about the union and those elected to run it. For over a year now, I found myself attending council meetings as an alternate. Then, I was invited to alternate in the recent round of NCA negotiations. Now, I've finally made the decision to run for council and do my part to officially represent and serve our membership. As for my work as a member, the bulk of it is as a principal on camera performer in Film/TV and in commercials. In addition, I've worked as BG at the beginning of my career and on occasion, performed as an SSE, hired through stunt coordinators. I've also done a bit of stunt work in ACTRA Co-Op projects and speaking of, I've made my own short film through the YEAA Shorts program as well. In addition, I've somehow found my way doing demo work, featuring my very imperfect hands. I should also add that I have a mixed ethnic background and am multi-lingual as a result of growing up with parents from two completely different ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds with English as their second languages. This has given me the gift of facilitating open mindedness and free thought, making it easier to see things from different perspective, while rejecting forms of toxic tribalism and instead embracing the oneness of humanity. Living in echo chambers divide and hurt us all.

Recent events have reminded us why unions are so important and worth fighting for. Being united in large numbers is what allows us to ask for fair wages, safe and reasonable working conditions, and other important protections. Each and every one of our voices is important. Inevitably, there will be a difference in opinions within any group. However I believe that together, with a focus on our common interests, we can overcome these differences and be better for having had those distinct points of view. United we can shine a light on the blind spots we would otherwise not notice when standing alone.

Having said that, continuing to improve communications across the membership is paramount. If elected, I would hope to play a small part of that. However, I understand that not all members wish to be as involved so I would suggest an option, that individuals can opt into, to receive more communications. One example is getting an email after the minutes (a summary of what was discussed, what was proposed, voted on, etc.) of each council meeting are made public. These emails would include a link to those minutes so all members who wish to be, are reminded of their release and can keep themselves in the know. We would also reiterate the option for members to attend these meetings as observers. Plus, links to the ACTRA Constitution and By-Laws could also be included in these communications. All this information is out there for members to keep informed, but a vast majority of the membership are not aware. This would be one example of a step towards more comprehensive communications and keeping members in the know.

In addition, as communication is not one way, we want to encourage more members to reach out, especially when it comes to issues that are dividing the membership. We want to take steps to have more healthy and respectful debates to find solutions with the goal of seeking the greatest possible course of action. It shouldn't be about “winning” but a discussions where concerns and ideas can be presented and deliberated. We win when we find ideal trajectories for ACTRA as a whole. This is not about having it "my way" as our membership includes thousands and thousands of us, with 15,000+ and counting in Toronto alone. We want to find ways forwards, among ourselves, to then stand together, strong, as a united front.

I also recognize that there are groups being largely left behind when it comes to representation. We need to continue the work to tell BIPOC stories from an authentic lens and also recognize that Indigenous and MENA (Middle Eastern/Northern Africans) voices are grossly underrepresented. We've also seen how often that representation can often be negative and stereotypical, along with how harmful that can be. Another group that we often forget to consider are people with disabilities. Although we are seeing a slight increase in disabled performers on screen, these examples are few and far in between. Additionally, not that it should matter, but any of us could find ourselves disabled in the future. What actions can we take to help improve on these issues? That's a discussion I'd like to encourage in. Regardless of whether you are a BIPOC and/or disabled performer, the more Toronto is seen as diverse (as it very much is), the more we can tell diverse stories and the more productions will want to bring their projects to our city, resulting in more work for us all.

Lastly, I would like see if we, as members, would like to explore a way to facilitate skilled non-union, principal performers in joining us. Would it be favourable to our union? If the membership is in agreement, I think implementing an avenue for non-union actors who are strong performers, experienced and/or with a solid amount of training (ideally all three) to join our ranks instead of waiting for their first union credit, might be of benefit to us all. I know a few non-union actors who see themselves as future members and some who have attended ACTRA rallies in support of the commercial lockout. These performers have years of experience, training and have regularly booked non-union commercial work. Allowing these working actors into our union could make it more difficult for the locking out engagers for example, to get the performances they need to produce their commercials. The less skilled non-union actors we have outside of ACTRA, the more projects will have to be made under an ACTRA agreement in order to find the talent required, resulting in more work for us all. What if, a non-union actor, with a nomination from an ACTRA member, could submit their resume, links to their work and a short introduction? This could subsequently be reviewed by a group of volunteer ACTRA members (possibly providing a small honorarium) who could vote on whether or not we'd allow that non-union member to receive their first credit, possibly with a fee comparable to paying for a permit, and having them to join as an apprentice?  We would place a limit on how often they can submit (i.e. 6 months) and iron out the details in order to land on a process we as members would be happy to implement. Again, this would need approval from the membership and in addition, would need to be taken up with ACTRA National.

Finally, I want to say I appreciate being shown why anything I bring forth isn't viable or needs to be reconsidered. This in no way means I will back down at any sign of resistance, but simply that I am not fighting for my ideas or my ego. Let's come together, deliberate, and do what is best for our union.

Please check out the 2023 ACTRA Toronto Council Candidates page and vote for the members you believe will best represent you and your wishes for the union. Thank you for your time and consideration!

Questions, thoughts, comments, concerns? Free free to write me at ato-council @ or join the Facebook group and start a discussion!