On September 15th, over 1000 ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) members will corral in the East End for the inaugural TIFF Studio District Film Party. Since we love supporting local talent – both in front and behind the lens – we’ve partnered as a sponsor for this enormous bash that honours homegrown productions.
In the days leading up to this red carpet rager, we’re going to profile some hardworking women in the industry to get an inside look at what it takes to make it in this biz, what excites them most about TIFF and other words of wisdom that will stick with you, no matter what industry you hail from.
We’re kicking things off with performer and producer Sedina Fiati whose work has appeared in Reel World Film Festival, Bravofact, Hollywood Black Film Festival, and the Langston Hughes Film Festival. Sedina is currently the co-chair of ACTRA Toronto’s Diversity Committee.
What do you love most about your career?
This question makes me think of 80s ladies in power suits paired with running shows. Am I really grown up? Am I a career lady? Can I wear shoulder pads? Questions to ponder.
For real though, I love the unexpected surprises and opportunities. From year to year, I am never sure what is going to happen or what fabulous projects I will work on. I also really love working with and meeting all kinds of people. Being a performer/producer, you meet so many people (directors, designers, performers, technicians) and you get exposed to different viewpoints and methods of working.
What are your warnings to young woman looking to start a career in film or theatre?
Goodness! Warnings seem so harsh. I offer gentle advice. I would say be prepared to work really hard, cultivate all kinds of skills in the different areas of theatre and film so you will stay busy. Be prepared for your family (and/or other people in your life) to question your life choices and be prepared to stand up to them. Also, be prepared for the sexism, but know that things are getting better. Stand up for yourself in moments when you know you need to. You’ll regret when you wanted to say something and didn’t.
How has being a black woman shaped your creativity and helped determine certain choices in your career?
I am very proud of being a black woman and of my ancestral background. Black women (cis and trans) have survived and are still surviving all kinds of hardships and oppression. Despite all that crap, we are still here, offering fierceness to the world. My personal stories and black women’s legacies of pain and joy inspire me as an artist to create and are in the creative well that feeds me. The one thing that makes me sad is how much black women (and many people who are not white, able bodied, straight and male) are reduced to shallow stereotypes. The amount of nurse roles I have gone out for and played is getting really tiresome for me. So I am creating my own work and also challenging others to really see and reflect the diversity of black women. We are more than nurses, nannies, caregivers, sassy friends, or video vixens.
What are you most looking forward to at TIFF this year?
I am super excited that the ACTRA Toronto TIFF party will have ASL interpretation this year. I really hope this will start a trend amongst TIFF parties of all sorts to be more welcoming and inclusive to Deaf media professionals. I’m also excited to see the film Fire Song by a Cree-Metis filmmaker, Adam Garnet Jones, exploring two-spirited identity and coming-of-age, and the film Rainbow Kid, starring a performer with Down’s Syndrome, Dylan Harman.
What do you love most about life right now?
I love the spirit of change and activism in the air right now. I feel like I am having solid conversations with people that are leading to real change. A recent Facebook rant to has led to a meeting about how to diversify a theatre. Also, two major Toronto theatres, Cahoots and Theatre Passe Muraille, have programmed plays with Deaf characters. This is progress!