February | Rising Black Voices

For Black History Month, we present projects from the Academy’s past and present Talent Development program participants. These creators are starting conversations and instigating change through their art, putting their powerful Black voices front and centre.

To learn more about our programs and their participants, visit our website. The WBD Access x Canadian Academy Writers Program, in collaboration with Telefilm Canada, and WBD Access x Canadian Academy Directors Programs are currently accepting applications.

Content Warning:
Some of the projects included in this collection deal with topics that may be distressing. Viewer discretion is advised – please check ratings and warnings on individual selections before engaging.

Boxed In

Sound Editor: Penelope Walcott (she/her)

Women in Post 2021-2022

Directed by Sheronna Osbourne, this is the story of many told through the heartache and empowerment of one girl whose life changed when her parents enrolled her in a predominantly white STEM school. Filled with tender and teachable moments, Boxed In explores the multigenerational impact of Eurocentric beauty standards, and the spectrum of microaggressions that wield immense power over how Black women perceive themselves.

Penelope Walcott is a sound designer, field recordist, and musician, whose experience includes location sound, ADR, and foley (recording and editing). She has edited and mixed for short film, animation, and documentary formats, and some of her work has been selected for festivals such as the Tofino Film Festival and the Dreamanila International Film Festival.

Fashion Dis

Director, Season 1: Tobi Abdul (they/she)

Executive Residency Program 2022-2023

Fashion Dis is a made-to-measure makeover series for participants living with disabilities. Each episode celebrates an overhaul using innovative clothing designs and transformative beauty techniques, while revealing the best in accessible fashion and showing those ready to rock their body type exactly how to do it.

Tobi Abdul is a director and producer, dedicated to authentic storytelling that champions the underdog and challenges the status quo. Tobi is currently developing their feature documentary directorial debut, JUJU, funded by the HotDocs CrossCurrent and DOC Institute Breakthrough awards.

Le chalet

Writer, Seasons 1 & 2/Showrunner, Season 2: Kadidja Haïdara (she/her)

WBD Access x Canadian Academy Writers Program 2023-2024

Every winter, five best friends gather together and spend the ski season at a chalet. The unexpected arrival of a sixth roommate leads to a winter retreat like no other: eventful, dramatic, and full of emotion. Seasons 1 and 2 were directed by Marie-Claude Blouin.

Kadidja Haïdara is a writer, script-editor, and mentor. She received the 2014 NUMIX Award for Best Web TV: Fiction and Drama for Les béliers. For Le chalet, she won the Grand Prix d’Excellence from the Youth Media Alliance (Alliance Médias Jeunesse), and the Gémeaux for Best Script: Youth. In 2019, she was part of the first pedagogical committee for INIS’s program “Mixte: Documentary and Fiction”, aimed exclusively at Afro-descendant or Indigenous creators.

Lou Phelps: To rap in English or French, that is the question (Want To)

Producer: Imad Elsheikh (he/him)

Executive Residency Program 2022-2023

Montreal-based rapper, DJ, and producer Lou Phelps has been climbing his way to the top of Canada’s rap scene. In this video, directed by Soji Oyinsan, Phelps shows off his skills and explains why he’s rapping in English, finessing his French accent, and working on improving his style and flow.

Imad Elsheikh’s intentionality has led him to power innovative films, shining a light on perspectives across the globe. Through PIQUE, a multi-faceted creative and production house who have produced films within the narrative, unscripted, commercial, and music spaces, Imad possesses an innate ability to actualize creative visions with unmatched quality and poignant storytelling.

Memoirs to Little Jamaica

Director/Editor: Chelsea Nyomi (she/her)

Women in Post 2022-2023

Motivated by the recent sickness of her paternal grandmother, the filmmaker made a 19-day trip to Jamaica in May 2022, to spend time with her family. Memoirs to Little Jamaica is the result, as Chelsea narrates her journey through a quest for belonging, and shares her intimate feelings of cultural displacement.

Chelsea Nyomi is a Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist, who creates through film/video, photography, graphic design, creative direction, and writing. She is focused on building communities through shared experiences, and wants her projects to encourage thoughts, feelings, and reflection.

Momolu and Friends

Writer, Season 1, Episodes 75 & 76: Vanessa Magic (she/her)

WBD Access x Canadian Academy Writers Program 2022-2023

The series follows Momolu, a gentle panda who helps other animals find solutions to their problems by encouraging them to use their own skills and strengths. Together, Momolu and friends use creative thinking and collaboration to have tons of fun, while learning about art and design along the way. Episodes 75 and 76 of Season 1 were directed by Harald Franssen.

Vanessa Magic is an award-winning screenwriter, director, and filmmaker whose practice is rooted in Afrosurrealism and Afrofuturism. Passionate about crafting stories highlighting Black female protagonists, she aims to enlighten viewers with unexpected insights. Inspired by her dreams, Vanessa aspires to create untold and unseen worlds filled with magic.

Need No.1

Artist: iaamSaam

Director: Isabel Okoro (she/her)

Moose Knuckles Heatmakers x Prism Prize Music Video Production Grant

This music video focuses on raw emotions and vulnerability: melancholic yet optimistic. iaamSaam explores, through a multitude of personal and relational settings, what it looks like to navigate burnout and mental wellness.

Isabel Okoro is a visual artist who was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and is currently based in Toronto. At the cornerstone of her practice is visualising and developing an imagined world, Eternity, as a space to immortalize community members through stories of speculative fiction that embrace her concept of normatopia (a term coined to describe a space which considers the tensions between a harsh reality and a utopia). She co-founded the creative studio, local•global, and is currently the Creative Director.

No Ghost in the Morgue

Writer/director: Marilyn Cooke (she/her)

WBD Access x Canadian Academy Directors Program 2023-2024

Medical student Keity wants to become a surgeon like her mother and grandmother, but after her first operation takes a dramatic turn, she has to accept an internship at the morgue. Between her dead patients, her unconventional colleagues, and seeing her grandmother’s spirit, she tries to tough it out.

Driven by her passion for storytelling and television, Marilyn Cooke is a director who draws on the strength of images and staging to convey emotions. As the director of Pa t’mentir, she was the 2022 winner of the Prix Gémeaux. She is currently writing her first fiction feature, Daughter of the Mango Tree, which received support from the TIFF Filmmaker Lab.

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Ocean [reprise]

Artist: Adria Kain

Director: Ashley Iris Gill (she/her)

Music Video Production Project (Round 5)

A three minute long love letter, the music video for Adria Kain’s Ocean [Reprise] uses warm nature visuals to tell the story of a couple on a romantic getaway. With interspersed flashbacks to a previous relationship, intimate moments shared by the new couple are slowly revealed, as they continue their journey together.

Ashley Iris Gill is a queer Cinematographer from Toronto, Canada. She has worked on numerous projects ranging from music videos, documentaries, shorts, and commercials. Ashley plans to continue capturing the world through her emotive and unique gaze. She’s constantly growing and exploring her craft, and wants to focus on scripted work in the future.


Artist: a l l i e

Director: Roya DelSol (she/her)

Music Video Production Project (Round 8)

Soundboi depicts a l l i e as the chaotic trickster trapped inside your speaker. Set in a dark, hyper-stylized environment, a l l i e moves through the video at hyperspeed as the frenetic life of the party. Utilizing energetic camera movement, glitchy VFX, and fisheye lensing that echos the the wobbly distortion that underpins this track, the Soundboi music video contains all the key qualities of an excellent night out: a great bassline, a little havoc, and a lot of fun.

Roya DelSol is a Black director, photographer, and media artist based in T’karonto. Making music videos, dance films, and experimental documentaries, she aims for her work in all spheres to centre and uplift the experiences Black, queer, and marginalized peoples. She creates photographic, video, and immersive (XR) work; exploring the transformative power of both Black joy and Black femme rage in visualizing new, liberated worlds.

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