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Giacomo Gianniotti

Giacomo Gianniotti, actor, Grey;s Anatomy,

B: June 19, 1989 in Rome, Italy

Born in Italy, Giacomo Gianniotti moved with his family to Canada at a young age and grew up in Toronto. Working in both in English and Italian, he is pictured in his role as Dr. Andrew DeLuca on the hit US series Grey’s Anatomy.

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

Done (2013, short)
Still (2014, short)
Race (2016)
The Cuban (2019)

TV Series – Cast:
Selfie (2014)
The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe (mini-series 2015)
Grey’s Anatomy (2015-)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Medicina generale (2010)
Beauty and the Beast (2013)
Copper (2013)
Time Tremors (2013)
Murdoch Mysteries (2013, 2014)
Reign (2014)
Backpackers (2015)

The Cuban, movie, poster,

Celebrating Black History Month – Ardon Bess

Ardon Bess, actor,
Ardon Bess as Joe Louis (Photo courtesy of Infinitheatre)

(February 24, 2020 – Toronto, ON) Born in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and in Canada since 1964, Ardon Bess began his acting career after graduating from the National Theatre School in 1968. He is the first Black actor to attend and graduate from the famed Montreal school. Bess is perhaps best known for appearing in one of the Heritage Moment television commercials about the 1958 Springhill mining disaster portraying the only Black survivor, Maurice Ruddick.

He is pictured in the title role of Joe Louis: an American Romance, by David Sherman, at Infinitheatre, which ran from January 25 to February 20, 2011.

Read more about Ardon Bess.

Celebrating Black History Month – Trey Anthony

Trey Anthony, image,

(February 23, 2020 – Toronto, ON) Born in England of Jamaican parents, Trey Anthony began doing stand-up comedy during African Nubian Comedy Nights at Toronto’s Yuk-Yuk’s Comedy Cabaret. She has performed as well with Second City, and was a writer for HBO’s The Chris Rock Show (1997–2000) and a writer and performer on After Hours with Kenny Robinson (2001). Her first theatrical play, ‘Da Kink in My Hair, debuted in 2001 at the Toronto Fringe Festival. Set in a hair salon run by Caribbean immigrants, and composed of a series of monologues, the play introduces the audience to the women who work at and visit the place. Anthony’s aunt was in the styling business, and the play’s characters and monologues are based largely on her childhood memories.

Read more about Trey Anthony.

Celebrating Black History Month – Clé Bennett

Clé Bennett, actor,

(February 22, 2020 – Toronto, Ontario) Today as we continue to celebrate Black History Month, Northernstars highlights the career of Toronto-born Clé Bennett. Born to Jamaican parents and raised in Ajax, Ontario, Clé Bennett is a busy singer, musician, voice and character actor who broke into the business in 1998 with an appearance in the made-for-television movie Mr. Music. His many other television credits include 15 episodes of CTV’s award-winning series Flashpoint, plus Soul Food, Odyssey 5, Instant Star, Soul, 15 episodes of The Line, five episodes of Lost Girl, 13 of Shattered, The Listener and Republic of Doyle.

Read more about Clé Bennett.

Celebrating Black History Month – Benz Antoine

Benz Antoine, actor,

(February 20, 2020 – 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. Antoine played the sympathetic patrolman Tyler.

Read more about Benz Antoine.

Alex Paxton-Beesley

Alex Paxton-Beesley, actress,
Photo of Alex Paxton-Beesley courtesy of CTV.

B: in Toronto, Ontario

Alex Paxton-Beesley is a graduate of Toronto’s George Brown Theatre School and the Canadian Film Centre’s Actors Conservatory. On stage, she has worked with The Company Theatre (Festen, Canadian Premiere), Canadian Stage/Citadel Theatre (Rock ‘n’ Roll, Canadian Premiere) and Theatre Aquarius (The Woman in White, Worldwide Premiere).

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

The Good Shepherd (2004)

Melody (VR-2012, short)
Christmas with Holly (TV-2012)
Your Place or Mine (2012, short)
The Colony (2013)
Dirty Singles (2014)
Guilty at 17 (TV-2014)
Burnt Grass (2014, short)
Dredger (2015, short)
Shavasana (2015, short)
The Perfect Soulmate (TV-2017)
Space & Time (2017)
The Spadina House (2017, short)
Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder (TV-2019)

Island of Shadows (TV-2020)

TV Series – Cast:
The Firm (2012)
Copper (2012-2013)
Pure (2017, 2018, 2019 mini-series)
Cardinal (2018, mini-series)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Being Erica (2009)
Murdoch Mysteries (2009, 2015, 2016, 2017)

Republic of Doyle (2010)
Warehouse 13 (2010, 2011)
The Listener (2011)

Suits (2011)
Rookie Blue (2012)
Beauty and the Beast (2012)
Alphas (2012)
Flashpoint (2012)
Lost Girl (2013)
The Strain (2014)
Good Witch (2015)
Remedy (2015)
Minority Report (2015)
Haven (2015)
Wynonna Earp (2016)
Private Eyes (2016)
Impulse (2018)

Space & Time, movie, poster,

Celebrating Black History Month – Jessica Lucas

Jessica Lucas, actress,
Jessica Lucas as Tabitha Galavan in a publicity still from the series Gotham.

(February 19, 2020 – Toronto, ON) Vancouver-born Jessica Lucas, pictured in her role as Tabitha Galavan on the series Gotham, began her career with small, largely obscure Canadian productions but grew to where she is today. Just prior to her costarring role on Gotham she had popped up in several high profile film projects in quick succession. For example, in 2014, Lucas costarred in the oddball buddy-rom-com movie That Awkward Moment and went on to costar with Kit Harington, Emily Browning and fellow Canadians Kiefer Sutherland and Carrie-Anne Moss in the big budget Pompeii and then showed up in the hit mini-series Gracepoint.

Read more about Jessica Lucas.

Celebrating Black History Month – Jackie Richardson

Jackie Richardson, singer, actress,

(February 17, 2020 – 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.

Celebrating Black History Month – Phil Akin

Phil Akin, actor, director,
Click to enlarge.

(February 16, 2020 – Toronto, ON) In 1953, a few years after Philip Akin was born in Jamaica, his parents moved to Oshawa, Ontario to establish a home. Philip and his brothers followed the next year. Very little is known of his early years, but shortly after attending high school, Akin enrolled at the Ryerson Institute of Technology (now Ryerson University) in Toronto. In 1975, he became the school’s first acting graduate, landing a role just a few days later in a Shaw Festival production of Bernard Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra. His film and television career began three years later.

Today Philip Akin is a busy character and voice actor and theatre director who has been active for over 35 years on the Canadian stage and in film and television.

Learn more about Philip Akin.

Celebrating Black History Month: Arlene Duncan

Arlene Duncan, actress,

(February 15, 2020 – Toronto, ON) Arlene Duncan was born and grew up in Oakville, Ontario, west of Toronto. Her father, Alvin B. Aberdeen Duncan, was a decorated Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) veteran of the Second World War and a man who could trace his roots to the days of the Underground Railroad. Her mother was from Jamaica. Best known for her role as Fatima Dinssa (pictured above), the rather conservative owner of the café in 91 episodes of Little Mosque on the Prairie (2007-2012), Duncan’s career has taken her around the world: through Europe, the United States, across Canada, as far north as the Arctic and as far south as New Zealand. Duncan has appeared in numerous notable film and television projects including the role of American abolitionist and humanitarian, Harriet Tubman.

Read more about Arlene Duncan.

Celebrating Black History Month – Maurice Dean Wint

Maurice Dean Wint, actor,

(February 14, 2020 – 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 his powerful performance as Aaron the Moor in Stratford’s production of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus earned him a Dora Award nomination for best actor. 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.

Emmanuel Kabongo

Emmanuel Kabongo, actor,
Emmanuel Kabongo at the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards. Photo © 2017 by Ralph Lucas. Used with permission.

B: December 25, 1986 in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Emmanuel Kabongo was born in Zaire, with is now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He moved with his family first to South Africa and then again in 1998 when they settled in Toronto. He was a Presenter (pictured) on the first night of the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto.

Features & TV Movies
VR indicates Direct-to-Video release.

Jeff Batsoulis: Poet (2009, short)
Love Kills (2009, short)
A Display of Emotion (2009, short)
The Red Pearl (2009)

The Asylum (2010)
Two Cities (2010, short)
Never Talk to Strangers (2010, short)
Vol de nuit (2011, short)
Christmas Magic (TV-2011)
Party for One (2011, short)
Night Express (2011)
Shadowboxing (2012, short)
Who Killed Me (2012, short)
Refuge (2013, short)
The Animal Project (2013)
Trois nuits et une mort (2013, short)
Pompeii (2014)
Latter (2015, short)
Fight (2014, short)
Agape (2014, short)
Disconnect (2014, short)
Exquisite (2014, short)
Showtime (2015, short)
The Time Traveler (2015, short)
Jack in the Box (2015, short)
Antibirth (2016)
The Other Half (2016)
A Man’s Story (2016, short)
Brown Girl Begins (2017)
Arlo Alone (2018, short)
GUION (2018, short)
The Burglar (2019, short)
XXENOS (2019, short)
Run This Town (2019)

TV Series – Cast:
Teenagers (2014-2017)
21 Thunder (2017)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Cold Blood (2009)
F2 Forensic Factor (2009, 2010)

Breakout (2010)
Flashpoint (2010)
Nikita (2010)
InSecurity (2011)
Cybergeddon (2012)
Call me Fitz (2012)
Murdoch Mysteries (2013)
Air Emergency (2013)
Black Actress (2013)
Rookie Blue (2013, 2014)
The Ron James Show (2014)
Defiance: The Lost Ones (2014)
Hemlock Grove (2015)
Quantico (2015)
Ransom (2017)
Frankie Drake Mysteries (2017, 2018)
Evolve: Year Zero (2018)
Darken: Before the Dark (2018)
Taken (2018)
Kristal Clear (2018)
Departure (2019)

The Animal Project, movie, poster,
The Animal Project, 2013 movie poster courtesy of Mongrel Media

Run This Town, move, poster,

Rebecca Liddiard

Rebecca Liddiard, actress, Canadian,
Rebecca Liddiard at the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards. Photo © 2019 by R.A.Lucas.

Rebecca Liddiard attended Toronto’s Ryerson University and took Performance in the Acting program. She has landed a number of roles In her young career and she can not only act but she has training in dancing and has been certified to do stage combat. Liddiard played Constable Adelaide Stratton, the first female constable ever to work for the London Metropolitan Police Force in the series Houdini & Doyle. She plays Policewoman Mary Shaw in the series Frankie Drake Mysteries.

Also see: Alias Grace this September.
Also see: Save Me Returns to GEM.

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

With Her (2012, short)
Scarcity (2012, short)

Today I Will Tell Her (2013, short)
Olivia (2013, short)
Bernstein’s Rhapsody (2015, short)
For Love and Honor (TV-2016)
Highly Functional (2017)
Run This Town (2019)

TV Series – Cast:
Houdini & Doyle (2015)
Alias Grace (2017, mini-series)
Frankie Drake Mysteries (2017-)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Murdoch Mysteries (2013)
Man Seeking Woman (2015)
Between (2015, 2016)
Saving Hope (2017)
Reign (2017)
Slasher (2018)
The Detail (2018)

Web Series:
Save Me (2019-)

Run This Town, move, poster,

Celebrating Black History Month – Charles Officer

Charles Officer, actor,

(February 12, 2020 – 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.

Mylène MacKay

Mylène MacKay, actress, actor,
Photo of Mylène MacKay at TIFF 2016 © 2016 Ralph Lucas. Used with permission.

B: July 7, 1987 in Saint-Didace, Québec

Born in Saint-Didace Québec, Mylène Mackay is based in Montréal where she graduated from that city’s prestigious L’École nationale de théâtre du Canada in 2011. Mylène Mackay played the title role of Nelly based on the life and work or author Nelly Arcan in a film by Anne Émond selected to screen at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.

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

Pour le meilleur et pour Shakespeare (2012, short)
Nous irons ensemble (2013, short)
Ludivines (2013, short)
Acrobat (2013, short)
C’est plus facile de liker que dire je t’aime (2014)
Obamas: A story of Love, Faces and Birth Certificate (2015)
Endorphine (2015)
Embrasse-moi comme tu m’aimes (2016)
Nelly (2016)
Le trip à trois (2017)
Charlotte Cardin: The Kids (VR-2017, short)
La Bolduc (2018)
Wolfe (2018)
La beauté du monde (2018)
Genèse (2018)
Pauvre Georges! (2019)
Laurence Nerbonne: Back Off (VR-2019, short)
Mafia Inc. (2020)

TV Series – Cast:
Faits divers (2017, mini-series)
L’Âge adulte (2017-2018)
Victor Lessard (2017-2019)
Lee 422 (2019-2020)
Amours d’occasion (2020, mini-series)
Les honorables (2020, mini-series)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Les rescapés (2012)
Les beaux malaises (2014, 2017)
Unité 9 (2014)
Mensonges (2018)

Mafia Inc., movie, poster,

Celebrating Black History Month – Gloria Reuben

Gloria Reuben, actress,

(February 11, 2020 – 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 – Roger Cross

Roger Cross, actor,
Click to enlarge.

(February 10, 2020 – 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.

Celebrating Black History Month – Tonya Williams

Tonya Williams, actress,

(February 9, 2020 – 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: Corey Bowles

Corey Bowles, actor, director,

(February 8, 2020 – 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 – Enuka Okuma

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

(February 7, 2020 – 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.