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ACTRA Toronto Honours Jani Lauzon

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ACTRA Toronto Honours Jani Lauzon
Jani Lauzon photo by Michele Newton, courtesy of ACTRA Toronto.

ACTRA Toronto Honours Jani Lauzon
by Staff

(December 18, 2020 – Toronto, ON) ACTRA Toronto has announced that Jani Lauzon will receive its 2021 Award of Excellence. A Métis multi-disciplinary artist, Lauzon is an award-winning screen actress, a Juno-nominated singer-songwriter, a Gemini Award-winning puppeteer, a multi-award-winning stage actress, a director and filmmaker.

A member of Equity, the Toronto Musicians’ Association, and recently awarded a Life Membership in ACTRA, Lauzon has been an “ACTRAvist” at ACTRA Toronto for 20 years, assisting Sandi Ross in the early years with ACTRA Toronto’s multi-cultural talent book, Into the Mainstream. The ACTRA Toronto Award of Excellence honours an ACTRA Toronto performer with a significant body of work and who has demonstrated a commitment to advocacy on behalf of their fellow performers.

“I am proud to be part of the work our union has done to support the growth of our sector and the incredible talent of our members,” said Jani Lauzon. “I have also been blessed to have a career that spans multiple disciplines, so to be honored with the Award of Excellence, recognizing the many facets of my career including my work as an actor, a puppeteer and an advocate, is a very humbling experience. I am grateful for all those who have helped me get to where I am today, and for my daughter, Tara Sky, who has taught me the importance of uplifting community.”

Both of her biological parents were artists and musicians, and her foster father was the high school drama teacher. She had the pleasure of watching the incredible Brent Carver on stage from the wings, which confirmed her desire to become a performer. Her early training was in visual and physical theatre, clown and mask. She then reignited her passion for Shakespeare, something her foster father Paul Kershaw instilled in her, which opened up the opportunity to play some of the great roles in the canon. Her puppetry résumé includes iconic Canadian children’s shows like Mr. Dress-up (Granny), Big Comfy Couch, The Jim Henson Hour, Groundling Marsh (Maggie), and Alligator Pie. She played Seeka in the Gemini-award-winning cast of Wumpa’s World.

She has enjoyed a distinguished career as a singer and is equally comfortable singing the blues, jazz and traditional Indigenous music. She was twice nominated for the Juno Aboriginal Recording of the Year awards and once for Best Female Traditional award at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. She has released three albums, Mixed Blessings, Thirst, and Blue Voice, New Voice.

She has won Best Actress awards from the American Indian Film Festival Award and Dreamspeakers for her performance as Doris in the film, Windigo Tale. Some of her newest acting projects include Six Ways to Die, Ankle Biters, and The River You Step In. Her stage acting has brought Dora nominations for playing Shylock in Merchant of Venice, Raven in Whale and various roles in The Triple Truth, and for her recent solo show Prophecy Fog.

Her self-created theatre projects, produced by her production company Paper Canoe Projects, include A Side of Dreams, Prophecy Fog and I Call myself Princess. She is in development on a new theatre piece with her daughter, Tara Sky, called Reflection[s}. Paper Canoe also produced her films Just One Word and “eu·tha·na·sia”. She is currently an Associate Director of the Acting Program at National Theatre School and has directed several theatre productions including at Soulpepper and the Shaw Festival.

“It is with great pride and gratitude that we honour one of our own,” said ACTRA Torornto President Theresa Tova. “Jani Lauzon is not only an accomplished actor, singer, writer, puppeteer, director and educator, she is also a trusted voice and inspiration to other ACTRA leaders. Many of our continuing initiatives were born out of Jani’s efforts as Diversity Chair and Advocate, thoughtful councillor and tireless member of ACTRA Toronto’s executive.”

ACTRA Toronto is the largest organization within ACTRA, representing over 15,000 of Canada’s 27,000 professional performers working in recorded media in Canada. An advocate for Canadian culture since 1943, ACTRA is a member-driven union that continues to secure rights and respect for the work of professional performers.

Also see: Jani Lauzon’s filmography.