Canada Media Fund calls for diversity in entertainment

A new campaign features prominent Canadian creators sharing their stories and vision for the future of the film industry.

At the onset of the pandemic, while watching a rise in racial unrest in the U.S. and Canada, the Canada Media Fund (CMF) decided to develop a campaign about diversity and inclusion in the film industry.

“We saw really important voices talking about privilege and the lack of it, the need for more inclusion and the need to listen to absolutely everybody,” says Mathieu Chantelois, VP of communications and promotion with the CMF. “We felt a sense of responsibility to share the stories of Canadians that often aren’t told enough.”

Launched during the broadcast of the final episode of Kim’s Convenience, the new campaign is part of the CMF’s “Made” platform, and features six Canadian creative talents as ambassadors: Simu Liu, Shamier Anderson, Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs, Mélissa Bédard, Adib Alkhalidey and Cynthia Wu-Maheux.

Each of the ambassadors shares their story and their vision for a more inclusive industry in a series of video spots ranging from 30 seconds to two minutes in length.

The “Made” platform (“Nous” in Quebec) was created to show how some of entertainment’s most high-profile shows came out of Canada, like Handmaid’s Tale and Orphan Black.

This campaign also leverages the hit factor: while there are many voices to elevate in the industry, Chantelois says it was important to work with people who have broken through, and who are already great advocates for diversity and inclusion, because their profile makes it “easier for them to spread the message about the work they are doing.”

In addition, “they are also able to talk about their successes and their struggles, and the opportunities they’ve seen,” he says, which will show people from under-represented groups and communities that there is a place for them in the industry.

Chantelois says CMF is talking with Disney about potentially elevating the campaign’s message with the September release of the Marvel movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which stars Liu. The campaign will also be featured on the TV series Drag Race Canada, and the CMF hopes to create more spots with additional ambassadors while exploring other ways to spread the message.

Ultimately, Chantelois says he hopes that the CMF campaign will serve as a starting point for “a really deep conversation that we need to have.”

“This campaign is just one of the many steps we need to take together if we want to arrive at permanent inclusion in the screen industries,” he says.

He also hopes the campaign will give Canadians a reason to pause, think about diversity and inclusion, and “go on a journey of discovery to find the great content that has already been made and is sometimes celebrated around the world, but unknown in Canada.”

“It’s about time for Canadians to discover our great stories,” says Chantelois.