Reelworld Screen Institute introduces the first cohort of Canada’s next casting directors, agents, managers, and film producers, who are part of the Reelworld Black Entrepreneurs Program. This project is funded through a non-repayable investment of $1.4 million through the Government of Canada’s Black Entrepreneurship Program Ecosystem Fund through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).
Sixteen Black entrepreneurs will be embarking on a new journey creating the next generation of casting directors, agents, managers, and film producers in Ontario. They will be training for the next eight months; participating in virtual workshops with notable Canadian industry professionals, engaging in mentorships through some of Canada’s leading organizations, incorporating, building their business plans, apprenticing and building their networks to support their businesses by connecting with industry peers through affiliated Reelworld programs. At the end of the program, participants will have paved paths to success for their businesses.
“Congratulations to the first Reelworld Black Entrepreneur cohort! Through the Black Entrepreneurship Program Ecosystem Fund, Reelworld provides critical support, services, and mentorship to Black entrepreneurs in the film industry,” said the Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. “This important investment is another example of the Government of Canada’s commitment to diversity and inclusion while working to address systemic racism.”
“When considering our programs at Reelworld, we look for gaps in the ecosystem of our Canadian screen industry regarding our mandate of diversity and inclusion. These four areas of our industry are key gatekeeper positions, which will be vital to enhancing that ‘inclusion’ we are all concerned with currently. For talent to thrive, they need the support of these pillars, and it is key that those pillars reflect that diverse talent they are guiding to success,” Jaczek added.
Casting Director participants Cara Douglas, Tscholo Khalema, and Rachel Osbourne will be learning how to successfully cast for film and series from some of the top casting directors in Canada. They will also gain insight into the infrastructure and various avenues of casting as a business; union and non-union productions, commercials, and more. Moreover, Agent participants Gregory Henderson, Jennifer Irons, Jan Jennings, and Tsenu Zelleke will work on building a roster of actors and literary talent. They will also learn about contract negotiation and deals to successfully book and provide their talent access to the best opportunities in the market.
The Manager participants, Abby Ayoola, Jessica Carter, Jae Leacock, and Katrina Lopes, will master how to manage and nurture a career in the Canadian film industry and how to network and create relationships with clients and industry professionals. Finally, Film Producers Audra Gray, Louis Mercier, Chibie Okoye, Keda Edwards Pierre, and Sheldon Shaw will collaborate with a number of creatives including writers, directors, and actors, to help shape their stories while receiving instruction on how to access funding and create strong pitch packages. They will also learn how to expand their audiences internationally – meeting the buyers and acquisition executives seeking new content.
Support for this program has been widely received from organizations like Telefilm Canada, ACTRA, and Shaftesbury. In addition to these organizations that have made financial commitments of support, the Reelworld Black Entrepreneurs Program has over 20 organizations and many industry professionals onboard offering services and training to support entrepreneurs who want to break into the Canadian screen industries.