Being Black in Canada is a four-part Black History Month article series from SHIFTER editor Kevin Bourne

We usually look to the United States when we think about Black talent, but there’s a growing group of Black talent leaving their mark on media and culture right here in Canada.

Here are 12 of Black talents in Canada putting their stamp on media and culture in the North.


Tyrone Edwards ⎸TV broadcaster

 

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Tyrone Edwards, who SHIFTER had the opportunity to interview back in 2016, was introduced to Canadians as the host of MUCH’s signature hip-hop show Rap City. Aside from starring on Bell Media’s etalk, DNA Dinners, Celebrity Style Story, and 6 Degrees, Edwards’ heart is also in the community. In 2007, he co-founded the blog 1 LOVE T.O. and later, Concrete Hoops, a basketball camp that uses the sport to teach life skills. He is also a volunteer with the Remix Project and a winner of the Mandela Legacy Award.

Marci Ien  ⎸TV broadcaster/Entrepreneur

 

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Marci Ien is an award-winning broadcast journalist with CTV. Growing up in Toronto, hers was one of the few Black faces you saw on Canadian television. After a longtime stint as news anchor and co-host for CTV’s Canada AM, she is now one of the co-hosts of CTV’s daytime talk show The Social. Aside from her career as a journalist, she’s also a UNICEF Canada ambassador and advocate for Black issues, as well as an entrepreneur, co-founding IEN LEE, Canada’s first female black-owned footwear line, alongside long-time friend Diane Lee Clemons.

Troy Crossfield  ⎸Playwright/Music Producer/Artist Manager

 

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Troy Crossfield is a creative swiss army knife, touching music, theatre and film. After producing for Ludacris’ Disturbing the Peace, Crossfield returned to Toronto and has gone on to work with Canadian music legends like Kardinal Offishall and Glenn Lewis. But the music industry vet has kept his ear to streets and is currently serving as the manager for up and coming Toronto rapper Swaggerite.

When he’s not making moves in the music industry he’s running his theatre and film production company Crossfield House Productions, recently premiering his short film A Little White Lie (based on the play of the same name) and his latest stage production 94.

Akil Augustine  ⎸TV broadcaster

 

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NBA TV Canada host and producer, Akil Augustine, is one of the few young Black men to grace the small screen in Canada. Aside from hosting The Hangout, Augustine is also colour analyst and courtside reporter for the Raptors 905 and co-founder and program director of HoopClubTO, a movement to share Canada’s basketball history in Toronto, Canada and beyond, in partnership with Nike Canada.

Brandon Gonez  ⎸News anchor

 

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Brampton native, Brandon Gonez, is a reporter and anchor at CP24, known to put Toronto’s Black community in a frenzy by weaving the occasional Jamaican/Toronto slang into his news reports.

Canadians will know Gonez from his time as weather anchor at CTV’s national morning show Your Morning which he left in January 2019. Prior to that the York University and Seneca College graduate held various broadcasting positions in Northwest British Columbia, Regina, Saskatchewan, and Barrie.

Dalton Higgins  ⎸PR/Festival producer/Author

 

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Higgins is a leading Toronto-based publicist whose active roster includes clients that have won a wide range of Awards and accolades including: BET Awards (USA), Mercury Prize (UK), Emmy Awards (USA), Juno Awards (Canada), in addition to Grammy Award (USA) and Polaris Prize (Canada) nominees.

The former Harbourfront Centre concert producer has over 500 concert and festival production credits to his name, taking his as far as the United States, Denmark, France, Australia, Germany, Colombia, England, Curacao, Spain and Cuba.

Amanda Parris  ⎸TV/Radio broadcaster/Playwright

 

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Amanda Parris is an arts reporter and producer for the CBC, hosting various television and radio programs including ExhibitionistsThe Filmmakers, From the Vaults, and Marvin’s Room.

She is also an award-winning playwright having won the 2019 Governor General’s Award for English-language drama for her theatrical debut Other Side of the Game.

Prior to her career in broadcasting, Parris’ community work included Lost Lyrics, an educational program that used the arts to help at risk youth.

Kardinal Offishall  ⎸Recording artist/DJ/A&R

 

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Aside from being one of the greatest entertainers Canada has ever seen, Kardi stays busy as Senior Director of Urban A&R at Universal Music and founder of both the DJ crew/creative collective Celebrity Marauders and the non-profit organization 30 Elephants which takes youth from North America on trips around the world to broaden their horizons.

Traci Melchor  ⎸TV broadcaster

 

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If you grew up in Toronto in the 90’s, you were introduced to Traci Melchor when she replaced Monica Deol as the host of Electric Circus. Since then the Pickering-native went on to work for E! in Los Angeles before returning to Toronto and eventually serving as one of the original co-hosts of the daytime talk show The Social. She is currently senior correspondent with entertainment magazine etalk.

Shamier Anderson and Stephan James  ⎸Actors

 

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The brothers from Scarborough have been generating a lot of buzz in recent years, especially after they both starred in the Jesse Owens biopic Race in 2016. James went on to win the Canadian Screen Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Owens and later received a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of Walter Cruz in the Amazon series Homecoming. With their increased success,They have both gone on to become regulars on the late night talk show circuit in the United States, representing their city whenever they can.

Jennifer Holness and Sudz Sutherland  ⎸Film/TV producers

 

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This husband and wife duo, who we interviewed back in 2016, have been some of the biggest champions for Black talent, including Stephen James and Lyriq Bent, and storytelling in Canada. They brought us titles like Love, Sex and Eating the Bones, Doomstown, and a personal favourite, Shoot The Messenger.

Vinessa Antoine  ⎸Actor 

 

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Known for her roles as Judith Winters on CBC’s Being Erica and Jordan Ashford on the soap opera General Hospital, in 2019 she became the first Canadian Black female to play a lead role on a Canadian television series when she secured the lead role on CBC’s Diggstown. In May 2019 the series was renewed for a second season.

Jamar McNeil ⎸Radio broadcaster/DJ/Host

 

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Jamar McNeil, also known as JNiice or simply Jamar, moved to  Toronto from his previous role as host of the J Show in Chicago and is already making noise as the co-host of Toronto’s #1 morning radio show, Marilyn Denis and Jamar. Prior to joining CHUM 104.5, Jamar hosted shows at some of the biggest Top 40 radio stations in North America, with stops in Washington, DC, Cleveland, Miami, Houston, and Chicago, as well as the Caribbean. After dark, McNeil is a sought after DJ and event host, here in Canada and as far away as the United States and the Caribbean.

Tracy Moore ⎸TV host/broadcaster

 

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Tracy Moore has been a fixture on Canadian television for the past 15 years. Since 2008, she has been the host of the lifestyle magazine show Cityline and was previously the news anchor on Breakfast Television. Moore is also a businesswoman, and the namesake of her own clothing line, Tracy Moore, Designed by Freda’s.

Kiana “Rookz” Eastmond  ⎸Music producer/Entrepreneur

 

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Kiana ‘rookz’ Eastmond is one of Toronto’s leading tastemakers. She’s best known as the CEO of the urban music artist development and recording facility, Sandbox Studios, which has hosted major artists like Cardi B. and Tory Lanez, and as the former executive director of Toronto’s premiere hip-hop festival, Manifesto. Having partnered with Drake on a business transaction with Roc Nation, Rookz went on to work with leading artists like Raekwon and Kardinal Offishall.

As a brand strategist, her previous collaborations include Nike, Google, YouTube Music, Jordan, American Express and Live Nation. She now inspires the masses as a public speaker and the spark behind the #CreateFate where she encourages us to not be limited by the conditions we find ourselves in.

By Kevin Bourne

Kevin Bourne, also known as “KB The Boss”, is the editor-in-chief of SHIFTER magazine and co-founder of the PR and marketing firm SHIFTER Agency, Inc.

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