(Wednesday, May 12 — 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM ET / 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM PT)

In celebrating the tapestry of voices that are rising up in our industry, we hear from an exceptional group of BIPOC writers and creators to connect the threads of their journeys in and out of the writers’ rooms in Canada. Our panel offers insight on diversifying the writers’ room, creating an equitable and responsive team, and advice to emerging BIPOC creators in the room.


Bilal Baig | Co-Creator of Sort Of

Bilal Baig (they/them) is a queer, trans-feminine, Muslim writer, performer and workshop facilitator. Bilal’s first play, Acha Bacha, had its world premiere in 2018 and has been published by Playwrights Canada Press. Bilal is the co-creator and lead of the upcoming CBC series, Sort Of. Bilal is a core team member at non-profits such as Story Planet and Rivers of Hope, where they develop and facilitate workshops for youth in under-resourced neighbourhoods in Toronto focused on creative writing and literacy (Story Planet), and combatting Islamophobia through the arts (Rivers of Hope).

Melanie Nepinak Hadley | Program Director, WarnerMedia Access

Melanie has worked in programming at two national broadcasters in Canada and has been on the receiving end of thousands of pitches. She has overseen dozens of projects in development and countless hours of production. She also contributes to the industry by sitting on the board of directors for imagineNATIVE Film + Media Festival, National Screen Institute, and Cousin Film Collective. In all avenues she is actively connecting talent to opportunity and diversifying and deepening the pool of storytellers working in Canada. In her current role at WM she is focused on above the line talent initiatives.

Nathalie Younglai | Screenwriter-producer, Founder of BIPOC TV & Film

TV writer and director, Nathalie Younglai founded BIPOC TV & Film, a not-for-profit organization advocating meaningful representation of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour in front and behind the camera.

Nathalie hauled her parents to the Daytime Emmys after being nominated for her writing on Dino Dana. She’s honored to be the recipient of the 2020 CSA Humanitarian Award, the WGC Alex Barris Mentorship Award and one of NOW Magazine’s 2020 Trailblazers.

Nathalie is currently showrunning a web series she co-created with Simu Liu and is Writer/Supervising Producer on CBC’s Coroner. Black Lives Matter.

Penny E. Gummerson | Writer/Executive Producer

Métis writer Penny Gummerson was born and raised in Flin Flon, Manitoba, hunting, trapping, fishing and collecting future stories from the land and her crazy family. 

Penny recently won the WGC Award for Best Writing, Drama Series (TRICKSTER). She’s also been nominated for two 2021 Canadian Screen Awards for Best Writing, Drama Series (CARDINAL and TRICKSTER). Some of her other TV credits include THE ORDER, BLACKSTONE, STRANGE EMPIRE, ARCTIC AIR, HEARTLAND, RENEGADEPRESS.COM and MOCCASIN FLATS.

Her plays (IS THERE BINGO IN HEAVEN?, CROSSING BOUNDARIES, and award-winning WAWATAY) have been produced across Canada.

Penny is currently writing a feature film with Northwood Entertainment based on the memoir UP GHOST RIVER by Edmund Metatawabin.

Vivian Lin | Writer/Producer

Vivian Lin is a Toronto writer and producer. Her previous writing credits include co-executive producer on Hudson & Rex (CityTV/Shaftesbury), three seasons of Killjoys (SyFy/Space), Carter (WGN/Sony/Bravo), Bajillionaires (Universal Kids/DHX) and Daytime Emmy-nominated Holly Hobbie (Family/Hulu). She is a recipient of the Telefilm New Voices Award and the Bronze Prize at the Page Awards, and has been nominated for a Canadian Screen Award and a Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Award.



Amber-Sekowan Daniels | Screenwriter

Amber-Sekowan Daniels is a mixed Anishininew (Oji-Cree) screenwriter, comedian and creator and is a proud member of the Garden Hill First Nation. She was recently in the room on Diggstown III for CBC and Circle Blue Entertainment. Amber’s stand-up comedy has been featured in the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, Oddblock Comedy Festival and on CBC’s The Debaters.




This session is free for members of the Canadian Academy, CMPA, and DGC Ontario. Tickets are available for purchase for non-members.