Words by: Sentwali Holder
Actor-brother duo Stephan James and Shamier Anderson want to celebrate Canada’s Black excellence while breaking down barriers of discrimination as well as combat systemic racism in the Canadian arts. The two are launching The Black Academy to honor talent in their home country.
Last year, the Scarborough, Ontario brothers began plotting about building an organization like this after the Canadian Screen Awards asked Anderson to present James with the Radius Award, a trophy that celebrates a Canadian in entertainment who impacts the industry on a global scale.
Now, Anderson and James have launched The Black Academy, with a goal to create a more inclusive look at Canadian entertainment by presenting awards honoring Canada’s Black talent, as well as educational content and panel discussions. Right now, the lion share of programming in Canada featuring Black talent is from U.S. television/films.
James, who broke out after If Beale Street Could Talk is also known for his roles in 21 Bridges, and Homecoming, while Anderson is best known for his role as U.S. Deputy Marshall Xavier Dolls on the television series Wynonna Earp.
“Stephan and I strongly believe we have identified a glaring gap in the industry as far as the acknowledgment and celebration of Black Canadians doing exceptional things all over the world,” Anderson, co-founder and co-chair of The Black Academy, said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
“This level of celebration is bound to breed a whole new world of Black Canadian talent doing exceptional things,” he continued. ‘We know the impact that providing an opportunity for Black talent to gain visibility and recognition will have. It breeds inspiration like no other amongst our communities. To have something for us, by us.”
This sounds like a trailblazing project that might just catch on everywhere, maybe even in the United States. Stay tuned!