When Shamier Anderson and Stephan James announced the launch of The Black Academy back in December, they shared that the initiative was about recognising and celebrating Black talent in arts and culture in Canada, and about measuring success on your own terms, reframing the benchmark of success in entertainment, and who gets to define it. Last week, The Black Academy revealed that they will be producing “a live award show honouring established and emerging Black talent”, in partnership with Insight Productions. “The awards will celebrate both Anglophone and Francophone Black talent across film, television, music, sports, and culture. Award categories, juries, and the submission process will be announced at a later date.”
As we have heard from so many leaders, joy is a form of activism, not just a powerful form of resistance against racism but one of the building blocks of legacy. As Shamier said of The Black Academy when it was first announced, the goal was to “have something for us, by us” because “it breeds inspiration like no other amongst our communities”. If you can see it, you can be it.
But also, it’s much more than what is meant to be seen. Stephan expressed it best in the press release for the award show:
“In the Black community, we like to do things big, bold, and colourful – that’s what this show is going to be. I think everyone will be truly amazed by what they see, but for those who aspire to work in this industry, the people behind the camera will be just as impressive and inspiring.”
There are so many different ways to contribute to the culture – many of those roles are not high profile but they are critical to building a robust and complete artistic community. It’s not enough for performers to be visible, it’s also about what stories they’re telling, and who’s telling them, writing them, casting them, directing them, visualising them, styling them, coordinating them. And much of that work happens off-camera. This event then will represent from the inside out, for Black culture, by Black culture…
But open to appreciation beyond Black culture. After all, we’ve watched the Oscars(sowhite) and the Grammys all these years, haven’t we? And the first priority of a live award show, for broadcast, is to entertain. As entertainers themselves, Shamier and Stephan definitely get this. It’s evidently what they’ve been hoping for for a long time. And now they’re making it themselves.
Yours in gossip,