April 2, 2024 The Toronto Region Board of Trade

New Voices, New Pathways

The BSO Symposium is about focusing our attention on bringing authentic Black stories to life. It’s evident that Black stories have been untold, mistold, and marginalized. While there are efforts to address this, they often seem minimal compared to the potential for true representation and impactful storytelling. Our goal is to catalyze change.

We believe in starting from a place of strength, celebrating the global influence of Black culture—the “origins of cool.” This Symposium invites decision-makers, broadcasters, streamers, funders, distributors, producers, and creatives in the screen industry to unite. It’s a day for collective ideation on what’s possible, not just locally but globally, learning from one another, sharing resources, co-creating, and finding collaborative opportunities to move us from where we are to where we want to be.

The Symposium will feature keynote interviews, presentations from guests about their aspirations, roundtable discussions, networking opportunities, and special presentations. This enriches our collective endeavor, making it not just a meeting but a milestone event for actionable change.

Change is ambitious, but it won’t happen unless we put our minds to it. Join us in this transformative journey to elevate Black stories to their rightful place in global narratives.

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Interactive Sessions

Anthony Morgan

Freestyle Socials

Helps organizations encourage their audiences to challenge their old thinking patterns and open the door to flexible and imaginative thinking.

Food and fun

Your ticket includes more than great speakers, there’s an end of day party with DJ Brandon “B MAC” McDonald and lunch and coffee breaks throughout the jam-packed day.


*Funders, broadcasters, government agencies, distributors, large production companies, etc.

For student prices and group sales of 10 or more tickets, please contact ea@bso-ben.ca.

Looking for a hotel for the event?

Great news! The Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto is the official host hotel of the BSO Symposium. For more information or discounted rates, please email ea@bso-ben.ca.

Join us April 2, 2024 at
the Toronto Region Board of Trade in Toronto, Canada.


Presenting partners





Promotional Partners

For sponsorship opportunities please contact: tichaona@accesscanadamedia.com

Melanie Nicholls-King

Melanie Nicholls-King, a Canadian/American actress of Trinidadian descent, is renowned for her versatile roles across television, film, and stage. Notable credits include Cheryl in HBO’s “The Wire,” Officer Noelle Williams in “Rookie Blue,” and Hazel LaCroix in CBC/Netflix’s “Anne with an E.” Her talent extends to diverse projects like “Orphan Black,” “Star Trek: Discovery,” and “Little Fires Everywhere.” With a rich theatrical background, she starred in “Familiar” at Playwright Horizons. In the audio realm, she’s lent her voice to various acclaimed works. Recently, she portrayed Jean Augustine in the CaribbeanTales production “In the Black.” Melanie continues to captivate audiences with her compelling performances.

Jully black

Jully Black, dubbed ‘Canada’s Queen of R&B Soul’, is a platinum-selling recording artist and esteemed songwriter. Recognized among ‘The 25 Greatest Canadian Singers Ever’ by CBC Music, she’s earned Juno and Gemini Awards, along with induction into Canada’s Walk of Fame. Beyond her musical prowess, Jully’s philanthropic endeavors have taken her worldwide, championing causes close to her heart. With a magnetic presence in Canadian media, she’s interviewed global icons like Jay-Z and Oprah Winfrey. Her recent album, ‘Three Rocks and a Slingshot’, showcases her enduring talent. From her powerhouse vocals to her unwavering advocacy, Jully Black continues to inspire and uplift audiences across the globe.

Sean Cohan

Appointed President of Bell Media in 2023, Cohan leads Canada’s premier media and entertainment company, with industry-leading assets and brands across video, audio, out-of-home, and digital. With a rich background in media and consumer industries, including roles at A+E Networks and Nielsen, he’s renowned for driving global content and digital transformation. A Harvard and Stanford graduate, Cohan’s purpose-driven leadership extends to various board positions, including the Banff World Media Festival. Recognized by Savoy Magazine for his influence, he’s named among the Most Influential Black Corporate Directors and Executives in Corporate America, embodying excellence in both leadership and innovation.

Tyrone Edwards

Tyrone Edwards, the versatile host of ETALK, boasts an illustrious career spanning entertainment news and television. Formerly hosting RAPCITY and various shows on Much and E!, his expertise extends to interviews with global celebrities. Notably, he’s won Canadian Screen Awards and anchored prestigious events like the Oscars®. Off-screen, Edwards champions youth empowerment through initiatives like Concrete Hoops and See You Soon Toronto. A Toronto native, his heart remains with the city despite stints in the U.S. as a basketball player. His dedication to entertainment and community earned him the 2016 Mandela Legacy Award.

Marc Bamuthi joseph

Marc Bamuthi Joseph is an acclaimed artist, cultural strategist, and social impact leader. A TED Global Fellow and recipient of prestigious awards including the Herb Alpert Award and Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, he’s renowned for his paradigm-shifting allyship training, HEALING FORWARDTM. Bamuthi’s works span opera, theater, and ballet, collaborating with esteemed institutions like Yale University and HBO. He’s Vice President of Social Impact at The Kennedy Center and an influential figure in global cultural discourse. With a dynamic presence onscreen and stages worldwide, Bamuthi continues to inspire and provoke change.

Anthony morgan

Anthony Morgan is an award-winning science communicator, Ph.D. researcher, startup founder and game designer who has hosted dozens of TV programs. He’s also the new host of The Nature of Things on CBC Television. He’s obsessed with changing how people see, think and talk about science in their everyday lives. He’s spent close to 20 years finding ways to do just that. He’s worked at the Ontario Science Centre with Asap SCIENCE, written for newspapers, hosted CBC Radio, collaborated with municipal governments and serves on the steering committee of the misinformation-tackling Science Up First. This work and more has earned him multiple distinctions and award nominations, including a Falling Walls nomination for a breakthrough science engagement initiative and being named one of CBC’s top 20 millennial change-makers.

O-T Fagbenle

O-T Fagbenle, an Emmy-nominated actor, director, writer, and producer, has left an indelible mark across film, television, and theater. From his acclaimed role in “The Handmaid’s Tale” to starring alongside Scarlett Johansson in “Black Widow,” his versatility knows no bounds. Fagbenle’s creativity extends beyond acting; he’s the mastermind behind “Maxxx” and is set to star in “The First Lady” and “WeCrashed.” A true renaissance talent, he’s also a passionate advocate for education and empowerment, founding the ABC Foundation. Fagbenle’s journey from London to Hollywood epitomizes excellence and impact.

Donisha Prendergast

Donisha Prendergast, a filmmaker and advocate hailing from Jamaican Reggae Royalty, Bob & Rita Marley’s lineage, traverses the globe, preserving and sharing stories to propel societal advancement. With a rich tapestry of experiences spanning documentary filmmaking, motivational speaking, and international activism, she catalyzes change at the intersection of art and social justice. Collaborating with luminaries like Beyoncé and Sean Paul, her productions amplify marginalized voices and champion cultural preservation. As founder of Humanity Ova Vanity, she pioneers initiatives fostering artistic integrity and community engagement. With an indomitable spirit and commitment to inclusion, Donisha shapes narratives that resonate globally, embodying the ethos: humanity over vanity.

Gaëlle Essoo

Gaëlle Essoo works for the Canada Media Fund as the Lead Editor for the Now & Next editorial platform, and as the French market liaison for the organization’s Growth & Inclusion team. In 2022 she launched the CMF’s first video series, Lights, Camera, Inclusion, dedicated to EDI matters. Prior to joining the CMF, she worked as a producer for international news channel France 24 where she focused on programs dedicated to women’s rights across the world. She also worked as a press counselor for the Embassy of France in Canada and as policy analyst for the Ontario Ministry of Education. She was born and raised in Mauritius and has lived and worked on three continents.

Marsha Greene

Marsha Greene, an acclaimed Co-Creator and Showrunner, achieved critical acclaim with the Emmy-nominated series “The Porter,” winning 12 Canadian Screen Awards. Her expertise spans as an Executive Producer and Writer on notable shows like “Mary Kills People” and “Coroner.” A graduate of the Canadian Film Centre Prime Time Television program, Marsha holds an Honours BA in Creative Writing and a graduate certificate in TV Writing and Producing, earning prestigious accolades including the WIFT-T Crystal Award and a Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Award. Committed to promoting diversity, Marsha serves on the Writers Guild of Canada’s Inclusion, Equity, Diversity, and Accessibility Committee.

Floyd Kane

Floyd Kane, initially an entertainment lawyer, delved into the industry’s creative side with notable contributions like “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” and “Bowling For Columbine.” Transitioning to writing, he birthed the compelling half-hour CBC drama “North/South” and later lent his pen to series such as “Continuum,” “Slasher,” and “Backstage.” His prowess extends to producing, with acclaimed features like “Across the Line,” “Shake Hands with the Devil,” and “The Incredible 25th Year of Mitzi Bearclaw” under his belt. Kane’s latest endeavor, the CBC drama DIGGSTOWN, which he created, showruns, and executive produces, is gearing up for its third season. Recently honored with the Sandi Ross Award from ACTRA Toronto, Kane champions inclusivity in the media landscape.

Jennifer Holness

Jen Holness is a happy workaholic. She writes, produces, and directs. Her doc, Subjects of Desire, was a 2021 TIFF Top Ten film, and her doc series BLK: AN ORIGIN STORY recently won 5 Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Director for her episode. Jen’s dramas include Shoot the Messenger and Guns, with the latter winning her a Best Writing CSA. Her features, Home Again and Love, Sex, and Eating the Bones, have screened globally, winning numerous festival prizes. She is the founder of the Black Screen Office, co-chair of CISF, a CMPA board member, and co-chair of the REDIAC Action Committee for the organization. Jen has three kids, two dogs, and one husband, who is her partner in crime at Hungry Eyes Media.


Sasha Leigh Henry (she/her) is a writer, director, producer and lover of all things hilarious. Named one of Variety’s 10 to Watch for 2022, Henry made her debut as series creator and showrunner with the current release of the Crave Original Comedy Bria Mack Gets A Life. As a director, her film Sinking Ship debuted at TIFF 2020 and was the winner of the 2021 Vimeo Staff Pick Award at Aspen Shortsfest, and her film Bitches Love Brunch screened at festivals internationally before being acquired by CBC Gem. As a producer, Sasha has helped bring numerous films to screen including Randall Okita’s Canadian Screen Award winner The Lockpicker, Kelly Fyffe-Marshall’s award-winning short film Black Bodies as well as her follow-up feature When Morning Comes, which premiered at TIFF 2022. A frequent panelist and speaker, Sasha is also an alumni of POV 3rd Street, Black Women Film!, 2020’s TIFF Filmmaker Lab, a TIFF Netflix Talent Accelerator Fellow, and is currently Chair of the Board of the Reelworld Film Festival.

Henri Pardo

Henri Pardo, a visionary filmmaker born to Haitian parents in New Brunswick, is renowned for his impactful contributions to Canadian cinema. As the writer and director of “Kanaval,” he clinched prestigious accolades including the Air Canada Audience Award at Cinémania 2023 and the Amplify Voices Award at TIFF 2023. Henri’s dedication to showcasing the Afro-Canadian narrative shines through in his acclaimed documentary series “Afro-Canada,” recognized with a Gémeaux nomination. His earlier work, including the award-winning “Dear Jackie,” demonstrates a commitment to amplifying underrepresented voices. A graduate of INIS and co-founder of Black on Black Films, Henri’s influence resonates deeply in the industry.

Kofi Hope

Kofi Hope, a Rhodes Scholar with a Doctorate in Politics from Oxford University, is the co-founder of Monumental, a Toronto-based strategic advisory firm. He served as an Urbanist in Residence at the University of Toronto School of Cities and is a Senior Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. With extensive media contributions and a role on the board of CAMH, Kofi’s dedication extends to volunteering across Toronto. Recognized with the Jane Jacobs Prize and named a Rising Star in Toronto Life’s Power List, he was also the former Executive Director of the CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals, Canada’s largest charity serving Black youth.

John Gibson

John Gibson is a leading advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the entertainment industry. He founded the DEI program at the Motion Picture Association (MPA) in 2012, spearheading initiatives promoting multiculturalism among member studios like Walt Disney and Netflix. With partnerships with over 50 influential organizations, including the American Black Film Festival and National Urban League, John fosters inclusivity through advisory roles and global outreach efforts. His leadership extends to managing relationships with civil rights groups and non-profits, solidifying his commitment to fostering belonging for diverse voices in entertainment. Gibson’s work significantly advances DEI and global inclusivity in the industry.

Lyara Oliveira

Lyara Oliveira, President of Spcine since February 2024, previously served as Director of Innovation and Audiovisual Policies, spearheading initiatives like the relaunch of Spcine Play and the expansion of the Cinema Circuit. With a rich background in the industry, she’s a seasoned creator, producer, and educator, having taught at prestigious institutions like ESPM and FAAP. Holding a Ph.D. in Audiovisual Media and Processes from the University of São Paulo, Lyara’s expertise extends across independent production, television broadcasting, and academia. She’s a vital member of the LabArteMidia CNPq research group, contributing significantly to the intersection of art, media, and digital technologies.

Renee Robinson

Renee Robinson is a distinguished figure in the international creative economy landscape, boasting two decades of expertise in content strategy, public policy, and film investment promotion. As a member of the EU/UNESCO Culture Expert Facility and an International Women’s Forum Global Leaders Fellow, she offers invaluable insights and leadership. Notably, she served as the Film Commissioner of Jamaica, facilitating major productions and nurturing the local screen industry. Renee advises globally on corporate governance, film finance, and growth strategy, leveraging her extensive background with prestigious institutions. With a rich educational background and a passion for exploration, she embodies a global perspective, fluent in multiple languages and deeply engaged in diverse interests from art history to scuba diving.

Melissa Oluwarotimi Adeyemo

Melissa Oluwarotimi Adeyemo, a film producer bridging the U.S. and Nigerian industries, began her journey at Columbia University, where she found inspiration in cinema’s power to empower underrepresented voices. Founder of Ominira Studios, she produces films celebrating Black and African lives. Her debut feature, “Eyimofe,” premiered at Berlinale 2020, earning accolades and a place in the Criterion Collection. Her documentary “Dusty & Stones” garnered awards globally. Recipient of the BAFTA Breakthrough Fellowship and Film Independent Amplifier Fellowship, Melissa’s expertise stems from roles at ROK Studios, PwC Strategy&, and major media companies. With an MBA from NYU Stern and a BA from Columbia University, she merges education with impactful storytelling.

Rob Maylor

Rob Maylor, a Jamaican-American lawyer and producer, spearheads Mental Telepathy Pictures
to amplify Caribbean narratives worldwide. Notable for executive producing “SPRINTER,”
championed by Jada Pinkett-Smith & Will Smith, earning numerous global awards.
Collaborations with luminaries like Shaka King and companies such as Hillman Grad showcase
his commitment to authentic storytelling. With a rich background including stints at UTA, Mark
Burnett Productions, and Magnolia Pictures, Maylor’s expertise extends to notable projects like
Paramount’s “BOB MARLEY: ONE LOVE” and HBO’s “GET MILLIE BLACK”. A Film Independent
Producing Lab Fellow, Maylor’s diverse skill set underscores his dedication to advancing
underrepresented voices in film.

Cameron Bailey

Cameron Bailey is the Chief Executive Officer of TIFF and the Toronto International Film Festival. He directs the vision, strategy and overall management of one of Canada’s premier cultural brands, responsible for presenting the world’s largest public film festival each September. Born in London, Bailey grew up in England and Barbados before migrating to Canada. He began his career as a film critic, then joined TIFF in 1990 as a seasonal programmer. He headed the Festival’s Perspective Canada program and founded its Planet Africa section, before returning to TIFF as Co-Director of the Festival, then Artistic Director of TIFF. Bailey is a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which presents the Oscars, and a Chevalier in France’s Order of Arts and Letters. Toronto Life magazine has named him one of Toronto’s 50 Most Influential People on multiple occasions.

Jackie Jackson

Jackie Jacqueline Jackson is Jamaica’s dynamic Film Commissioner, boasting over 15 years of multimedia expertise. Her illustrious career began at Television Jamaica (TVJ), leading to a Master of Arts in Media Arts from Long Island University. With extensive experience at global media entities like BET and Comedy Central, she founded Ideate That Limited, producing hit shows like “Psychology of…” and pioneering Jamaica’s first adult coloring book, “I AM THAT I AM.” As Film Commissioner, Jackie spearheads the Jamaica Screen Development Initiative, championing local talent and securing a billion-dollar film fund. Committed to sustainability and mentorship, Jackie ensures Jamaica’s film industry flourishes under her visionary leadership.

Narendra Reddy

Narendra Reddy, COO at The Africa Channel, brings 15+ years of global media experience from DreamWorks Animation India and Reddy-or-Not Entertainment. With a background in strategic leadership, he oversees Production, Programming, and Acquisitions, fostering original content development domestically and in Africa. Notable for supervising major productions like ‘Puss in Boots’ and ‘Madagascar 3’, Reddy’s tenure at DreamWorks shaped global strategy. Previously, as President of Reddy-or-Not Entertainment, he provided top-tier services to clients like NBC Universal and ION Media Networks. Holding advanced degrees and specialized training in entertainment, Reddy’s dynamic leadership drives The Africa Channel’s international media expansion.

Wendy Parkies

With a wealth of expertise spanning the broadcast, media, and communications industries, Wendy Parkies is deeply immersed in Africa’s broadcast environment, exploring its prospects and uncharted territories. Drawing from her extensive experience with renowned brands such as Africa XP, Viacom (Paramount), and Multichoice, Wendy excels in developing, launching, and monetizing FAST channels accessible over-the-top (OTT). Her proficiency in creating content and channels for African satellites and international OTT platforms offers valuable insights into the broadcast landscape in Africa and beyond.


Lea Marin, a Canadian Film Centre (CFC) graduate, is an award-winning Producer with over 20 years in the industry. Currently, as CBC’s Director of Drama Development, she spearheads diverse and high-quality content creation. Past roles include producing acclaimed documentaries for the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), such as Unarmed Verses and What Is Democracy?. Marin is a staunch advocate for racial equity, actively fostering opportunities for BIPOC and diverse filmmakers through collaborations with organizations like BIPOC TV & FILM and the CFC. Her commitment to inclusivity shapes her impactful work in championing underrepresented voices in the industry.

Derek Johnson

Derek Johnson is the Manager of Current Series Operations at FX Networks. In this role, Johnson focuses on projects in pre- through post-production, improving workflows across all FX departments, and the studio/network’s diversity efforts.

Prior, Johnson was selected to participate in the Disney General Entertainment Content Executive Incubator Program, a 2-year practicum through core disciplines of television across the studios and networks established to create a pipeline of diverse, next-generation executives. In this role, he had the pleasure of working with teams at Freeform, 20th Television, and FX. Before this, Johnson served as the Studio Commercialization coordinator at FX, where he helped drive financial and brand ROI for all FX original series, working on projects and products ranging from series merchandise to soundtracks. While with this team, he managed the development and launch of FX’s first narrative mobile game, It’s Always Sunny: The Gang Goes Mobile, which reached #4 on the Apple App Store and #6 on the Google Play Store in Strategy. Johnson started his career in the William Morris Endeavor mailroom and moved to assistant roles in Global Finance & Distribution (now Fifth Season) and later Digital Media.

Johnson received a Bachelor of Science in Management Science and Comparative Media Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Donisha Prendergast

Donisha Prendergast travels the world sharing and preserving stories to advance humanity. Though she is from a musical family lineage and the eldest granddaughter of Jamaican Reggae Royalty Bob & Rita Marley,  she has chosen the art of filmmaking as her tool for social impact and advocacy. Her vibrant talents and vast experience covers many disciplines including both documentary and narrative filmmaking, alternative education, motivational speaking and international activism. She was worked alongside government and grassroots organizations at various levels to plan and execute Pan-African and Art focussed symposiums like Africa Unite Youth Symposiums and Manifesto Jamaica Festival, lecturing on the Japanese led Activist cruise initiative – Peace Boat, marching with indigenous communities to highlight issues around cultural preservation and rights or leading social justice campaigns to help re-unify families impacted by cannabis criminalization and other systemic discrimination. 

As a film producer, she has creatively contributed and supported projects for names like the inimitable Beyonce, Director Melina Matsoukas, Handmaid’s tale star O-T Fagbenle, International Reggae Artists Sean Paul, Shaggy and the Marley family. Her on screen work as an actress includes female lead in Canadian Screen Award winning films Akilla’s Escape(2020) and Black Bodies(2020), SXSW Jury Prize winner OMI(2021) The Story of God (2018) with Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman on Disney Plus and documentaries Rasta, A Soul’s Journey (2013), Reaching for Zion (2016) and the soon to be released 50 Days in Afrika. Her screenwriter’s credits are also growing with projects like with Jamaican TV movie Savannah (2017), short films Earthworm(2016) and Awaking Sankofa (2018), which was shot in the Cape Coast dungeons in Ghana, and most recently on the Jamaican-Canadian feature When Morning Comes (2022) as story co-creator (story by), story editor as well as acting coach and associate producer credits.

Donisha has been quietly using her talents and platform to support the development of black filmmakers and the community in Toronto for almost a decade. Now, with a slate of film projects in development and no limit on her creative capacity, she is looking forward to continuing to create some room at the table. Her diverse perspective and approach to Creation is layered with nuances and insight from the African diaspora. She has recently founded her non-profit Humanity Ova Vanity as a vehicle to activate and facilitate the integration of best practices that can help to preserve and stimulate a culture of artistic integrity while bridging the gap between the world of film and the communities that inspired these stories… right the story.

Dwayne Holness

Dwayne Holness believes your greatest advantage is to be underestimated. From humble beginnings in Kingston, Jamaica, to growing up in what many would consider one of the roughest neighborhoods in Toronto, Dwayne has built a career on his own terms. As an award-winning entrepreneur, creative director, speaker, and community leader, Dwayne is a testament that the opportunities to succeed as a Black creative are truly endless.

A force within the marketing and video production industries for over a decade, Dwayne is the founder and CEO of Corex Creative – a video marketing agency specializing in corporate videos, digital strategy, and brand development.

His innovative perspective, distinct imagery, and innate understanding of diverse storytelling have landed him in the director’s chair for campaigns and productions of notable brands such as, CSA Group, The Academy, TD Bank, Canadian Tire Corporation, the LCBO, and the Canadian Screen Awards. Dwayne has also been the visual architect for music artists, Chronixx and Lauryn Hill, leading the creative direction for their world tours.

Jennifer Holness

Jen Holness is a happy workaholic. She writes, produces, and directs. Her doc, Subjects of Desire, was a 2021 TIFF Top Ten film, and her doc series BLK: An

Origin Story recently won 5 Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Director for her episode.

Jen’s dramas include, Shoot the Messenger and Guns, with the latter winning her a Best Writing CSA. Her features, Home Again and Love, Sex and Eating the Bones have screened globally, winning numerous festival prizes. SHE IS CURRENTLY IN PRODUCTION ON HER NEXT FEATURE WITH DIRECTOR RT THORNE (the Porter, utopia falls).

She is a Founder of the Black Screen Office, a CMPA Board Member and Chair of the REDIAC Committee, Co-chair of Ontario Creates Industry Committee and Co-Chair of CISF seeking independent funding for BIPOC Creatives and Producers.

Jo-Anne Liburd

Jo-Anne Liburd is a Communications Consultant whose clients span a range of industries, from the screen sector to travel to healthcare. A focal point of her professional and volunteer work, however, is supporting community-profit organizations to address the needs of equity-deserving populations. She brings a passion for social justice, an inquiring mind, and an ever-present sense of humour to each collaboration.

John Gibson

John Gibson is a leading advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the entertainment industry. He founded the DEI program at the Motion Picture Association (MPA) in 2012, spearheading initiatives promoting multiculturalism among member studios like Walt Disney and Netflix. With partnerships with over 50 influential organizations, including the American Black Film Festival and National Urban League, John fosters inclusivity through advisory roles and global outreach efforts. His leadership extends to managing relationships with civil rights groups and non-profits, solidifying his commitment to fostering belonging for diverse voices in entertainment. Gibson's work significantly advances DEI and global inclusivity in the industry.

Katia Café-Fébrissy

An award-winning documentary filmmaker, director, producer and playwright based in Toronto, Ontario working both in English and French.

Her TV credits include, directing an episode of CBC GEM’s televised play, 21 BLACK FUTURES, directing an episode of TFO’s unscripted docu-series, COULEURS DU NORD,  and story producing 3 segments of CBC’s factual show TERRY FOX: THE POWER OF ONE. Besides, she was a Director Observer on CBC’s episodic drama series MURDOCH MYSTERIES. She also wrote 10 episodes of TFO’s podcast VOIX DU NORD.

Her recent accomplishments encompass being awarded entry into the Berlinale EFM Doc Toolbox lab and the Canadian Academy Women Director program. She’s an alumna of the Hotdocs Accelerator lab, the Netflix-Banff Diversity of Voices Talent lab, Women in the Director’s Chair and the Director’s Lab North Theatre residency.

When she is not working as a gun for hire, creating documentary plays or producing her own indie projects, Katia hosts the DGC Podcast, facilitates Diversity & Inclusion workshops for the DGC and is the co-Chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee for the DGC Board – Ontario District Council.

Margaret Lewis

With a long-standing passion for film and television, Margaret has a breadth of industry knowledge. Over the past three years as a Relationship Manager in Commercial Banking for the Media & Entertainment sector, Margaret has helped film and television producers overcome numerous barriers to bring their content to life – whether it is their first or fiftieth production. Prior to RBC, Margaret previously worked at Corus Entertainment as Project Manager in Business Operations for Original Content and International Distribution, and held various roles at TIFF, NBCUniversal, was CMPA Diversity Mentorship Trainee alongside production company, Conquering Lion Pictures, and is an alumni of the inaugural Reelworld Producer Program. She sits on the board of Black Women Film! and BIPOC TV and Film, and completed her MBA at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

Maya Annik Bedward

Maya Annik Bedward is a Jamaican-French Canadian director and producer in the film and television industry. Her work has been showcased at prestigious events such as TIFF, Hot Docs, Black Star, and the New Orleans Film Festival. Her passion for storytelling has taken her to various corners of the globe, including living in Brazil and the UK, before returning to Toronto to establish Third Culture Media. In 2023, her producing work on PATTY vs PATTY earned her the Canadian Screen Award for Best Short Documentary. Additionally, her directing work on the digital series LIDO TV secured her a nomination for Best Direction. Maya is a fellow of both the EFM Toolbox Programme and the BSO-DGC Black Women Directors Accelerator. Committed to fostering a more equitable and inclusive industry, she is a founding member of the Black Screen Office. Currently, Maya is in production for her upcoming feature film, BLACK ZOMBIE.

Orla Garriques

Orla Garriques is a multi-faceted professional working at the intersection of film, television, digital media, arts and education. 

She has delivered collaborative initiatives that promote content and talent at home and abroad for leading media institutions such as the National Film Board of Canada, Canadian Film Centre, Toronto International Film Festival, Hot Docs, and South African Documentary Association. 

Mahalia Verna

Mahalia Verna, a creative industries executive with over 20 years of experience, namely at the National Film Board (NFB) and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). She has senior leadership experience in complex organisations, with an emphasis on strategy, production, operations, fundraising, marketing and communications. She is a dedicated professional with a deep understanding of the importance of the insight, oversight and foresight required to affect change and impact policy-makers, as well as a diverse and collaborative consultative history working with all levels of government, professionals, and organisations such as the Black Screen Office (BSO), Women in View and the McCord-Stewart Museum. She is a growth and impact strategist with an extensive knowledge of the challenges and opportunities facing Canadian entities in the domestic and international markets. As a former producer, her credits include award-winning projects such as documentaries “Dieu a-t-il quitté l’Afrique”, “Au nom de la mère et du fils”, the feature film “Saved by the Belles”, several short films, and regional television special series for CBC. For seven years she served as Co-Producer and Host of  “Coco Café”, a monthly live performance series that showcased Black talent in spoken word and music, and she produced literary segments for CKUT-FM radio in Montreal.

Patricia Scarlett

Scarlett’s early experience in the industry began at TVOntario where she worked primarily in international sales. As a highly successful Sales Executive at TVOntario, she initiated and closed TVOntario’s first educational broadcast and educational non-broadcast sales in Brazil.  During that time, she developed and nurtured a few valuable relationships with developed and nurtured a few valuable relationships with producers and broadcasters which have culminated in several significant professional achievements, including her representation of Ataranjuat: The Fast Runner, winner of the Camera D’Or at the 2001 Cannes International Film Festival. She regularly attends industry trade events such as MIP-TV & MIPCOM in Cannes, France.

Rama Diallo

Rama Diallo is a Business Affairs Executive, currently in-house at Front Street Pictures in Vancouver, BC. With an educational and professional background incorporating Communications and Legal Affairs, Rama brings with her a wealth of knowledge on all things media. Rama’s skilled attention to detail and constant thirst for further knowledge has equipped her with the tools integral to the successful management of various aspects of the production process. From liaising and negotiating with key industry stakeholders, to analyzing and operating within complex legal parameters, her ability to think outside the box continues to drive Rama in her dynamic output of innovative contributions to the world of film and television.

samah ali

Samah Ali is a distributor and film programmer hailing from Toronto, Canada. She programs for Academy Award qualifying festivals Seattle International Film Festival, DOC NYC, and Hot Docs Film Festival. Previously, she founded Sisterhood Media, a production company and streaming service that operated between 2017-2022. As a decorated thought leader and avid festival lover, she focuses on building a more equitable future in the industry by working with filmmakers on their distribution strategies with her consultancy, Stratali. You can interact with her on Twitter @sistersamah.

Marina Mathieu

With over a decade of international work in Community organizing, Communications, Events and Project Management, Marina Mathieu is an experience enhancer. She holds a Bachelor in Communication from the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM), a Certificate in Sexual Health from Laval University, and is currently finalizing a Masters in Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies at York University. Passionate about issues related to discrimination, human rights, and the status of women internationally, she hosted and moderated conversations and events with pillars like Michaëlle Jean and Dominique Anglade. As a filmmaker, she wrote, directed and produced three short films with subject matters ranging from denouncing police brutality against racialized people in Canada to addressing the problem of uterine fibroids in women of African descent. Her latest production, which features two young women displaced by natural disasters, was awarded Best Documentary Short at the Silicon Valley African Film Festival (SVAFF). Marina believes in care, empowerment, equity and solidarity for all living beings and she abides by these values in all the projects she leads or gets involved in.

Keziah myers

Keziah Myers believes in the skills and uniqueness of this country and knows that there is so much talent yet to be discovered. Currently as the Executive Director of ADVANCE – Canada’s Black Music Business Collective, Keziah’s main role is to advocate for the betterment, upliftment, and retention of Black Talent within the music industry. Leading this organization, Keziah focuses on changing processes, creating opportunities, and providing resources to ADVANCE members, and music industry organizations. Prior to ADVANCE, Keziah led music licensing initiatives at Entandem, and the A&R Operations at SOCAN, where she was instrumental in ensuring diverse hiring, updating internal systems, improving operations, and enabling all offices to better serve 150 000 members. Beyond this, Keziah has held positions in Label Operations Management and Publicity. She has also sat on Entertainment & Music Organization Boards, adjudicated as part of FACTOR and JUNO juries, and is a regular guest presenter for Art-Focused programs, colleges, universities and high schools.