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Lola Tash

Lola Tash, actress,

B: September 4, 1995 in Toronto, Ontario

Lola Bridgette Tash grew up in Toronto, Ontario. She was working with a singing coach who one day suggested she should meet with an agent that she knew. Admitting that she was “incredibly sky and introverted” Tash wasn’t sure but met with the agent, signed on to be represented and landed her first gig from her first audition. For Wild Girl, a Hallmark made-for-television production, Tash played the entire lead role speaking only Apache. Sge played the role of Gisela Calicos in 39 episodes of Conner Undercover between 2010 and 2011.

Features & TV Movies
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

The Wild Girl (TV-2010)
Reviving Ophelia (2010)
Molly Maxwell (2013)
A Wife’s Nightmare (TV-2014)
After the Ball (2015)
Natasha (2015)

TV Series – Cast:
Connor Undercover (2010-2011)
Republic of Doyle (2013-2014)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
The Latest Buzz (2007)

Rookie Blue (2010)
Reign (2013)
Four in the Morning (2016

Natasha, 2015 movie poster
Poster for Natasha courtesy of Mongrel Media.

Celebrating Black History Month – Tré Armstrong

Tré Armstrong, actress,

(February 28, 2021 – Toronto, ON) Tracey ‘Tré’ Armstrong, a dancer, choreographer and actress, was born in Toronto and raised in Mississauga, Ontario. From the age of five she studied ballet, tap and jazz dance, and later fell in love with Latin, hip hop and urban forms of dance. She was featured in the 2005 NFB documentary Breakin’ In: The Making of a Hip Hop Dancer written and directed by Elizabeth St. Philip, which highlighted Armstrong as one of Canada’s top rising stars. Her breakout moment occurred after seeking out Missy Elliot. The hip-hop queen gave her a place on an international tour, and since then Armstrong has travelled the world sharing her experience through workshops, seminars and classes in hip hop, urban and freestyle dance.

Read more about actress, dancer and choreographer, Tré Armstrong.

Celebrating Black History Month – Charles Officer

Charles Officer, actor,

(February 27, 2021 – Toronto, ON) Growing up, Toronto-born Charles Officer wanted to be an architect. He focused on sculpting during his foundation year at the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD), but he had always been active in sports and left OCAD to play professional hockey in the UK. Upon being picked in the draft by the Calgary Flames, Officer moved from England to Salt Lake City to play for a Flames’ farm team. While there he developed tendinitis in his wrist, and after a brief stay with a minor league team in Canada he concluded that the NHL was not in his future and he quit the game altogether. He returned to OCAD to complete his studies and had a brief career as a designer and creative director for a major Toronto ad agency.

Read more about Charles Officer.

Celebrating Black History Month – Clark Johnson

Clark Johnson, actor,
Clark Johnson publicity still from The Wire. Click to enlarge.

(February 25, 2021 – Toronto, ON) Born in Philadelphia to interracial parents, Clark Johnson arrived in Montreal with his sister Taborah at the age of 15. He attended Concordia University and Eastern Michigan University on a partial athletic scholarship for football. He attended several other universities including Loyola and the University of Ottawa before ending up at the Ontario College of Art as a film major. Johnson was drafted by the CFL and even played stints with the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburg Steelers before he decided to make a go of it in the film and television business.

In 1980 he broke into the business as a special effects technician on David Cronenberg’s Videodrome and The Dead Zone. He began appearing in front of the camera with small parts in films like Nowhere to Hide, Adventures in Babysitting and Colors before securing a recurring part in the popular Canadian cop series Night Heat (1985–88). A busy and highly respected director, look for his new film, Percy, opening in August.

Read more about actor-director Clark Johnson.

Celebrating Black History Month – Clement Virgo

Clement Virgo, film, director,

(February 23, 2021 – Toronto, ON) Clement Virgo arrived with his family from Jamaica in 1977. He attended West Preparatory Public School in north Toronto before the family moved to Regent Park, the city’s largest public-housing estate, known for its troubles with drugs and crime. He completed high school at Danforth Technical School, where his interest in men’s fashion landed him a job as a window dresser. Always very strongly visually oriented, film directing was a life-long dream for him. He applied for and was accepted into the inaugural 1991 Summer Lab program at Norman Jewison’s Canadian Film Centre.

Read more about director Clement Virgo.

Celebrating Black History Month – Rachel Crawford

Racehl Crawford, actress,
Rachel Crawford pictured as Danielle Berg in a CBC publicity image from the series This Life. Click to enlarge.

(February 22, 2021 – Toronto, ON) Once again this year Northernstars is celebrating Black History Month by highlighting the careers of a different Black Canadian actor, actress or film director each day all month long. Rachael Crawford began her acting career as a teenager in Toronto, but as her career blossomed she has been cast in projects in all of the major entertainment centres of North America including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Vancouver. She has worked with such names as Oprah Winfrey, Louis Gossett Jr. and Samuel L. Jackson, to name a few. Throughout her career she has garnered several Gemini and Genie nominations for her work, including her role in the Global Television series Traders and her role in Clement Virgo’s Rude which premiered at Cannes.

Crawford is probably best known for her performance as Petra in Patricia Rozema’s When Night is Falling as well as playing the lead in the Showcase series Show Me Yours.

Read more about Rachel Crawford.

Celebrating Black History Month: Corey Bowles

Corey Bowles, actor, director,

(February 21, 2021 – Toronto, ON) Actor, director, screenwriter, dancer and choreographer Corey Bowles was born in Montreal and grew up in Truro, Nova Scotia. He is an African-Nova Scotian with roots among Black Loyalists, Maroons and the original French Colonies. Known mostly for his role as Cory in 46 episodes of the cable series Trailer Park Boys (2001-17), he is also a teacher at the Maritime Dance Academy, Mocean Dance, and for his own Halifax-based contemporary dance company, Verve Mwendo. He has created over 40 works for the stage, music and a variety of other media.

Read more about Corey Bowles.

Celebrating Black History Month – Roger Cross

Roger Cross, actor,
Click to enlarge.

(February 19, 2021 – Toronto, ON) Roger Cross was born in Jamaica and lived there until he was eleven when he and his family moved to Canada’s west coast settling in Vancouver. There were no signs in his early life that he was interested in acting. In fact when he graduated from Trinity Western University in Langley B.C., he took with him a degree in Aviation and General Studies. He has said that he was drawn to acting simply out of “curiosity” and something to do, “just for fun.” He began his career as a part time stunt performer. Years later, answering his interest in aviation and his quest to find something to do just for fun, he must have enjoyed being cast as “a Pilot” in 1993’s Look Who’s Talking Now. Roger Cross plays Detective Donovan McAvoy on the series Coroner.

Read more about Roger Cross.

Deragh Campbell

B: 1989 in Toronto, Ontario

Deragh Campbell made her big-screen debut in 2013 in Matthew Potterfield’s film I Used to Be Darker, which was one of The New Yorker’s Top 25 films of the year. More of a writer than an actor, Campbell studied creative writing at Montreal’s Concordia University. She was named one of the 4 Rising Stars by the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015. The sci-fi feature Project Ithaca, directed by award-winning Canadian Nicholas Humphries, was presented for the first time at Cannes in May 2018. Her film, Anne at 13,000 ft was selected to have its World Premiere at TIFF 2019.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

I Used to Be Darker (2013)
Person to Person (2014, short)
Stinking Heaven (2015)
Beach Week (2015, short)
How Heavy This Hammer (2015)
O, Brazen Age (2015)
The Other Half (2016)
Never Eat Alone (2016)
The Intestine (2016)
Mobile Homes (2017)
It’s Hard to Be Human (2018)
Project Ithaca (2018)
Anne at 13,000 ft (2019)

Possessor (2020)
Succor (2020, short)

Credits as a Screenwriter:
Stinking Heaven (2015)

Project Ithaca, movie, poster,

Anne at 13,000 ft., movie, poster,

Celebrating Black History Month – Tonya Williams

Tonya Williams, actress,

(February 18, 2021 – Toronto, ON) Tonya Williams began life in London, England, born to Jamaican parents. She lived there and in Kingston, Jamaica, as a young child. Her father was a lawyer and later became a Supreme Court judge in the British Virgin Islands. When her parents divorced, Tonya was back in England for a short while, then in 1969, her mother settled in Oshawa, Ontario. Williams made her television debut in 1971 as one of the young hosts of the long-running childre’`s show Polka Dot Door on TVOntario. As a teenager, she modelled and danced on CityTV’s Boogie! dance show. She received national exposure with the “Wear a Moustache” milk campaign commercials, and in 1977 Williams was crowned Miss Black Ontario at the age of 18.

Learn more about Tonya Williams.

Celebrating Black History Month – Lyriq Bent

Lyriq Bent, Actor,
Lyria Bent in his role as Chekura in the mini-series, Book of Negroes. Click to enlarge.

(February 17, 2021 – Toronto, ON) Northernstars continues our look at the careers of a different actor, actress or director during Black History Month. Lyriq Bent was born in Jamaica and moved to Toronto with his family at the age of six. He did well in high school, and later attended Seneca College, graduating with high honours. He began working as a computer graphic technician; his plans, however, were short lived as he decided to take up acting on a dare. From his first appearanceas a non-speaking extra on the series Relic Hunter in 2000, this versatile actor has played an eclectic mix of roles and his multiple guest-starring television roles have kept him very busy. He is perhaps best known as Sgt. Frank Best appearing in 45 episodes of the hit Canadian cop drama Rookie Blue and for his role as Chekura in the CBC mini-series The Book of Negroes.

Read more about Lyric Bent.

Celebrating Black History Month – Maurice Dean Wint

Maurice Dean Wint, actor,

(February 15, 2021 – Toronto, ON) Equally at home on the stage and in front of the camera, Maurice Dean Wint was born in Leicestershire, England. His family moved to Canada in 1967 and he started acting on the stage and in television after completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama at York University. He has been on the small screen pretty much non-stop ever since his first appearance in the Canadian cop series Night Heat in 1987. His stage work includes Michael Healey’s Courageous, a social satire set at the marriage registry at Toronto’s Old City Hall produced by Toronto’s Taragon Theatre and Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre. It was named best new production at the Dora Awards in 2011 and Wint won for Outstanding Performance in a Featured Role/Ensemble. Wint also played Othello for A Taste of Shakespeare, a series of DVDs made for the library and educational market by the Toronto-based non-profit Eugenia Educational Foundation.

Read more about Maurice Dean Wint.

Celebrating Black History Month – Gloria Reuben

Gloria Reuben, actress,

(February 14, 2021 – Toronto, ON) Gloria Reuben is a Toronto-born singer and actress best known for her role as Jeanie Boulet in the American primetime series ER. Her mother, an accomplished gospel singer, encouraged Gloria to purse her creative talents. She began learning piano as a child and later studied music technique and theory, ballet and jazz at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music. As timed passed she got into modeling and was one of the hosts on TVOntario’s long-running children’s series Polka Dot Door in 1985.

In 2012 Reuben portrayed Elizabeth Keckley (a freed slave who was Mary Todd’s personal dressmaker and confidant) in Stephen Spielberg’s Oscar-winning Lincoln, receiving critical praise. Her portrayal of Condoleezza Rice in David Hare’s play Stuff Happens (at New York City’s Public Theater) bought a Lucille Lortel Best Actress Award.

Read more about Gloria Reuben.

Celebrating Black History Month – Percy Rodriguez

Percy Rodriguez, actor,

(February 13, 2021 – Toronto, ON) Born in the Saint-Henri neighbourhood of Montreal in 1918, Percy Rodriguez’s birth surname was Rodrigues, but after it was misspelled in a Broadway program early in his career, Rodriguez became his de facto stage name and most of his acting credits are under that spelling. He was of Afro-Portuguese heritage. His father abandoned his mother while he was a youth and he started working to help provide for his family. By his late teens he had become a professional boxer and started scouting out acting jobs. Although winning a Dominion Drama Festival acting award in 1939, job offers scarce, prompting him to work as a machinist and toolmaker for the next decade or so in order to supplement his income. He joined Montreal’s Negro Theatre Guild, and by the mid-1950s he was doing voice-over work for the NFB and appearing on CBC shows such as the series Radisson and the drama/music/dance series Festival. He appeared in the early Canadian feature Trouble-fête (1964).

Read more about Percy Rodriguez.

Celebrating Black History Month – Enuka Okuma

Enuka Okuma, actress,
Enuka Okuma pictured as detective Traci Nash from the police drama series, Rookie Blue. Click to enlarge.

(February 12, 2021 – Toronto, ON) Born in Vancouver, Enuka Okuma is of Nigerian descent and sometimes shows up in the credits as Enuka Vanessa Okuma. Before finding a successful career in film and television, she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre from Simon Fraser University. With over 50 television roles to her credit, Okuma has become familiar to audiences as a series regular playing the role of Traci Nash (pictured above) on Rookie Blue, which was also broadcast south of the border on ABC where it had dominated its time slot in the ratings over rivals NBC and CBS. Prior to that she was best known for her long run as Sheri Davis on the Canadian series, Madison appearing in episodes 14 to 65 between 1994 and 1998.

Read more about Enuka Okuma.

Celebrating Black History Month – Mpho Koaho

Mpho Koaho, actor,

(February 11, 2021 – Toronto, ON) Born in Toronto, Ontario, Mpho Koaho is the son of South Africans. Khuli, his mother, is from the Alexandra Township in Johannesburg, and his father is Eric Koaho. His big break came at the very start of his career when Maya Angelou cast him as the young lead in her Miramax film Down In The Delta released in 1998. The movie stars Alfre Woodard as Loretta Sinclair and Koaho plays her son Thomas.

Many of his roles, large or small, have produced memorable scenes on both the big screen and on television. One example is the unnamed role of the “Kid Selling Guns” in the 2002 drama The Salton Sea that costarred fellow Canadian Deborah Kara Unger. He also garnered attention in the 2004 Frankie Flowers crime drama Haven starring Orlando Bloom and Zoe Saldana and in the debut film from 50cent, the biopic Get Rich Or Die Trying.

Read more about Mpho Koaho.

Abigail Pniowsky

Abigail Pniowsky, actress,

B: 2008 in Winnipeg, Manitoba

Although she is just at the start of her career, the very young Abigail Pniowsky has been signed by L.A. agent Mitchell Gossett, who has represented stars like Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Lawrence. She began acting at age 5, appearing in the Gabby Douglas Story. At the age of 6, she played the powerful role of Helen in Wait Till Helen Comes. In the 2017 series Ten Days in the Valley she played the role of Lake Sadler-Greene.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

The Gabby Douglas Story (TV-2014)
Arrival (2016)
The Midnight Man (2016)
Wait Till Helen Comes (2016)
He’s Out There (2017)
The Rest of Us (2019)

TV Series – Cast:
Channel Zero (2016-2017)
Ten Days in the Valley (2017)

Wait Till Helen Comes, movie, poster,
Poster for Wait Till Helen Comes courtesy of Entertainment One.

Celebrating Black History Month – Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc, actress,

(February 9, 2021 – Toronto, ON) Karen LeBlanc is a multi-talented performer whose credits span film, television and stage. She could also be described as a mover and a shaker. A mover because her career has taken her from one end of the country to the other and back again. A shaker because part of her career was spent as a singer. She sung backup in touring rock bands like the Glass Tiger, soloed with orchestras, and starred in a Tina Turner tribute show. If you know anything about Tina Turner, that’s where the shaking comes in. As for moving, LeBlanc transferred to Vancouver from Toronto in late 2008 when she was cast in the first season of Defying Gravity, a sci-fi series launched by CTV, ABC, the BBC, and Germany’s ProSieben network.

Read more about Karen LeBlanc.

Celebrating Black History Month – Benz Antoine

Benz Antoine, actor,

(February 8, 2021 – Toronto, ON) Each day during the month of February we’re highlighting the career of a different Black Canadian actor, actress or director. Benz Antoine was born in Montreal, the oldest of three siblings. At 21 he started a rap career, which he did succesfully for two years. That’s when he landed his first role. He is probably best known for his work on the TV series, 19-2, which is a phenomenon in Québec. Benz Antoine played the sympathetic patrolman Tyler.

Read more about Benz Antoine.

Celebrating Black History Month – Jackie Richardson

Jackie Richardson, singer, actress,

(February 7, 2021 – Toronto, ON) Born in the United States, Jackie Richardson made her home in Canada from a very young age and grew up in Richmond Hill, just north of Toronto. She began her career at the age of 7 singing in her church choir and by time she turned 17, she was fronting her first group. Later she would be a regular performer at Canadian Armed Forces bases across Canada, throughout the South Pacific, and the Far East. Those who know anything about the family probably expected the young girl to break into song as soon as she could talk. It seemed to be in her genes. Her grandmother listened to gospel, her mother was a big Frank Sinatra fan and her father sang jazz.

Read more about singer-actress Jackie Richardson.