Cameras Roll on the 2021 CBC Actors Conservatory
Posted: Sep 1, 2021
Posted: Sep 1, 2021
The 2021 CBC Actors Conservatory residents. (L-R, top to bottom): Izad Etemadi, Zara Jestadt, Leighton Alexander Williams, Katherine Fogler, Blessing Adedijo, Janet-Rose Nguyen and Christef Desir.
After a year-long hiatus (we’re looking at you, COVID), we are thrilled to announce that the
CBC Actors Conservatory is back! We’re so pleased to welcome seven talented and versatile actors into the 2021 conservatory, which officially gets underway on Tuesday, September 7.
Blessing Adedijo, Christef Desir, Izad Etemadi, Katherine Fogler, Zara Jestadt, Janet-Rose Nguyen and Leighton Alexander Williams are joining the program with an exciting range of skills, experience and training – across musical and classical theatre, film, TV, comedy, and more.
“We are incredibly proud of this program and our continued partnership with the CFC to champion Canadian actors,” said
Sally Catto, General Manager, Entertainment, Factual & Sports, CBC. “CBC is committed to developing and nurturing creative talent in Canada, and the Actors Conservatory continues to empower emerging talent to flourish and succeed at home and around the world. Congratulations to this year’s residents!”
The CBC Actors Conservatory is an immersive onscreen acting program designed to empower actors to navigate the film and TV business by exposing them to different approaches, perspectives, collaborators and materials. This unique program expands an actor’s skill set, artistic confidence, creative community and career opportunities.
“I’m excited by this incoming group of actors and look forward to welcoming them to the CFC,” shared maxine bailey, Executive Director, CFC. “They are talented creators with interesting and unique voices, and we’re thrilled to help them bring their stories to life.”
“We are so thankful for the continued support of our amazing program partners – partners who share our passion for all things Canadian and are deeply committed to helping Canadian actors achieve global relevance,” added
Kathryn Emslie, Executive Lead, Programs, CFC.
Thanks to the generous support of our program partners,
CBC, the RBC Emerging Artists Project and the Government of Ontario, the conservatory has launched 90 actors to date who are landing impactful roles and are breaking out internationally – like Eli Goree in One Night in Miami, Devery Jacobs in Reservation Dogs, Annie Murphy in Schitt’s Creek and Kevin Can F*** Himself, Humberly González in Ginny & Georgia, Jade Hassouné in Shadowhunters and 2021 TIFF Rising Star Thomas Antony Olajide in TIFF ‘21 Official Selection Learn to Swim, to name a few.
Blessing is an actor and writer. Her training includes the Ryerson School of Performance and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Onscreen credits include
Pretty Hard Cases (CBC), Nurses (Global) and a recurring role on The Wedding Planners (Citytv). Blessing’s onscreen theatre and live performance experience include ‘Eos’ in The Odyssey, ‘Olga’ in The Women (Ryerson Theatre), ‘Valentina’ in One Day (Red Door Shelter) and Off My Chest (Theatre Born Between). Since graduating from Ryerson, Blessing has performed in Vietnam, Australia and the U.S.
Christef Desir is a Dora-nominated Haitian-Canadian actor. He is an alumnus of the Soulpepper Academy and has performed on stage in the plays
The Royale (Soulpepper), Dry Powder (Evermore), and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Unit102). He is currently developing a play with Outside the March and recently finished shooting Learn to Swim (TIFF ’21), from writer-director and CFC alumnus Thyrone Tommy.
Izad Etemadi is an Iranian-Canadian actor, writer and comedian from Victoria, BC. After relocating to Toronto, he received the Emerging Queer Artist award from Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. His select film/TV credits include
Overlord and the Underwoods (CBC/Nickelodeon), TallBoyz (CBC), Odd Squad (PBS Kids) and Bajillionaires (Family Channel). He’s toured and performed his critically acclaimed solo shows across the country and is currently developing his new comedy special, Say My Name, in residency with Green Light Arts. Izad’s work uses comedy to explore queer identity, immigration, and the terrors of being a millennial.
After graduating from Queen’s University, Katherine began her training in New York at Atlantic Acting School. Once back home in Toronto, she performed in the Second City conservatory and co-founded the popular comedy troupe Not Oasis. Her recent credits include
Suits, Murdoch Mysteries, and the lead in The Dancing Dogs of Dombrova, which won Best Feature at the 2019 Canadian Film Festival and netted Katherine a Best Actress Award at AFMX the same year. Select additional credits include a comedic turn in the film Little Black Dress, and the lead in Russet Season (dir. Sheila McCarthy).
Zara is an actor and graduate of the musical theatre program at the Etobicoke School of the Arts, in addition to McGill University and George Brown Theatre School. She spent two years at the Stratford Festival, where she was also part of the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre. Zara’s select theatre credits include ‘Alicia’ in
Small Mouth Sounds (Segal Centre), ‘Titania’ in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare BASH’d), ‘Miss Mabel Chiltern’ in An Ideal Husband, ‘Lucius’ in Julius Caesar (Stratford Festival), and ‘Sally’ in The 4th Graders Present an Unnamed Love Suicide (Tiny Room). Her film and TV credits include the lead in dystopian independent feature The Discarded, webseries The Wonderful, and Hudson & Rex (Citytv).
Janet-Rose Nguyen is an award-winning actress and writer. Her work explores magic, horror, feminism, queerness, and the Asian diaspora. She is the co-chair of the ACTRA Diversity & Inclusion committee, an alumna of the Reelworld Emerging 20 Program, and most recently served on the Bursary committee of Firefly Creative Writing. Janet-Rose is completing her Screenwriting and Creative Writing degree at York University. You can see her most recently in
Workin’ Moms (CBC) and the pilot Dream Date.
Leighton Alexander Williams is a Toronto-based stage and screen actor, writer and director. He’s a graduate of York University’s Acting Conservatory, and has spent the past six years creating bold thought-provoking work. He is a co-founder of BDB Productions Inc., and his recent adaptation,
Judas Noir, earned him his first Dora nomination (Best Ensemble) and Toronto Critics Pick nomination (Outstanding Supporting Performance). He wrote and stars in the short film Residue, which is available on CBC Gem.
CFC would like to thank this year’s Actors Conservatory selection committee members, Sophia Walker, Fuad Ahmed, Nicole Dorsey and Sherren Lee, who helped guide the decision-making process.
Learn more about the CBC Actors Conservatory
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