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ACTRA Toronto Honours Jean Yoon

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ACTRA Toronto Honours Jean Yoon

Photo of Jean Yoon courtesy of CBC.

ACTRA Toronto Honours Jean Yoon
by Staff

(December 5, 2019 – Toronto, ON) ACTRA Toronto has announced it will honour actor Jean Yoon with their 2020 Award of Excellence on February 22, 2020. Anyone familiar with the hit series Kim’s Convenience knows Yoon plays the role Umma, a role she originated in the Toronto Fringe production of Kim’s Convenience in 2011 and went on to perform in stage productions at Soulpepper Theatre in Toronto, The Grand Theatre London, National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Theatre Calgary, Theatre Aquarius, the Capitol Theatre in Port Hope and the Pershing Square Signature Centre in New York.

“I am grateful to have begun my career at a time when actors and artists like Sandi Ross, Brenda Kamino, Beverly Yhap, Rita Deverell, Walter Borden and so many others had already done so much of the hard work so that someone like me could find a way, a place, a community to create, grow and voice our stories,” said Ms. Yoon. “Telling our own stories shouldn’t be a radical endeavour. But it still so often is. The key is not to fight each other over one small slice of pie; we just have to bake more damn pies.”

Born in Illinois and raised in Toronto, Jean Yoon is a playwright, actor, advocate and mom. Best known for her work on Kim’s Convenience, for which she received the ACTRA Award for Outstanding Performance Female 2017 and two Canadian Screen Award nominations, other screen credits include Dragon Boys for which she received a Gemini nomination in 2007, Orphan Black, The Expanse, Save Me and the voice of Connie in the Emmy Award-winning PBS show Peg + Cat.

“Jean Yoon is an artist Canadians should celebrate!” said ACTRA Toronto President Theresa Tova. “Diversity is our strength, and Jean’s international success is a testament to the importance of how universal all our stories are. Never shy to call out inequity, Jean’s voice has given hope to a generation of diverse performers, and in her time on ACTRA Toronto Council she has motivated our leadership to actively fight for inclusion, diversity and real representation on our screens. Brava Umma!”

Yoon began her theatre career in the early 1980s in Toronto, performing with Upstage Theatre, Toronto Free Theatre and Canadian Artists Group. In the 1990s, she was active as a cultural equity advocate and new play producer. She was Cross-Cultural Coordinator for Theatre Ontario 1991/92 and produced Theatre Ontario’s forum Breaking Ground at the end of her term. She went on to serve as Co-Artistic Director of Cahoots Theatre Projects 1992 to early 1994, founding Lift Off! and cementing Cahoots’ role as a leader in new play development for playwrights of diverse cultures. She continued to advocate for equity while serving on the Second Advisory on Racial Equality to Canada Council for the Arts 1993-1996, and as Vice President of PACT in 1993/94.

Other work off stage includes her participation in Into the Mainstream’s Representation in the Media Conference in 1994. In 2016, Yoon addressed the CRTC on behalf of ACTRA to argue that private TV broadcast licences should continue to be tied to a commitment to Canadian programming. Most recently, she served as an ACTRA Toronto Councillor from 2018 to 2019.

He playwriting credits include the Dora-nominated stage play, The Yoko Ono Project, a multimedia performance art comedy, produced by Loud Mouth Asian Babes and Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto in January 2000. Her comedic adaptation of a classic Korean folktale Hongbu & Nolbu: The Tale of the Magic Pumpkins premiered at Young Peoples Theatre in 2005 and was published in Seven Contemporary Plays from the Korean Diaspora in the Americas, edited by Esther Kim Lee, Duke University Press in 2012. Other playwriting credits include Sliding for Home, Spite, and Yes Yoko Solo.

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. The 2020 luxe gala event will be held on February 22 at The Carlu. Four juried awards will be presented during the show for outstanding male, female, male voice and female voice, as well as the ACTRA Toronto Stunt Award and the members’ choice Series Ensemble Award. The awards gala is ACTRA Toronto’s way of celebrating a year-over-year successful industry with their producing partners, generous sponsors and allies.

ACTRA Toronto is the largest organization within ACTRA, representing over 15,000 of Canada’s 25,000 professional performers working in recorded media in Canada.