Over 20 York-affiliated creatives win Canadian Screen Awards

Long red carpet between rope barriers on entrance.

Canadian Screen Week, which ran from May 28 to 31, is the most esteemed event for recognizing Canadian media talent. The celebration includes the Canadian Screen Awards, which this year honoured nearly two dozen York University alumni in a diverse range of categories, including Best Motion Picture and Best Drama Series.

2024 Canadian Screen Awards - Television & Digital Media Rules &

Thanks, in part, to the strength of York’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, each year brings a list of dozens of former York U community members being nominated for Canadian Screen Awards and walking away with golden statues. This year was no exception, with almost two dozen alumni earning recognition for their work in film, television and digital media.

In the film world, Matthew Miller (BFA ’03, MFA ’16) and Matt Johnson (BFA ’06, MFA ’16) received multiple awards for Blackberry, a biographical comedy drama about the smartphone that was eventually replaced in popularity by the iPhone. Miller earned an award for Best Motion Picture, Johnson won for Best Direction and both were recognized for Best Adapted Screenplay.

They weren’t the only York-affiliated winners associated with Blackberry, as Jared Raab (BFA ’07) also earned an award for Achievement in Cinematography.

Among other film categories, Michelle van Beusekom (MA ’93) was recognized for contributions to the movie Coming Home | Wanna Icipus Kupi which, which won the Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary Program for its exploration of the aftermath of the Sixties Scoop. Amrit Kaur (BFA ’15) – known for her breakout work in the television series “The Sex Lives of College Girls” – was also recognized in the Performance in a Leading Role, Drama category for her role in the film The Queen Of My Dreams, a coming of age story of two girls with a shared obsession with Bollywood fantasy.

Beyond movies, York U alumni showed a strong presence in the television industry. Producer Kim Todd (BA ’77) was recognized with others for the show “Little Bird” – about an Indigenous woman searching for her birth family – which won Best Drama Series. Producer Tania Thompson (BFA ’00) saw a win for her contributions to “Bria Mack Gets a Life,” about a young Black Canadian woman entering the workforce, which won Best Comedy Series. Another success in comedy was Stacey McGunnigle (BFA ’08), who earned Best Writing and Best Performance, Variety or Sketch Comedy for her work on “This Hour Has 22 Minutes.”

Frequent multi-nominee and composer Ari Posner (BFA ’92) was also recognized for Best Original Music in the scripted television show “Sullivan’s Crossing,” about a successful neurosurgeon who has to return to her small hometown after a scandal.

York U representation in scripted children and youth programming was also significant, notably with a modern interpretation of “The Hardy Boys,” which won Best Children’s or Youth Fiction Program or Series, netting awards for producers Pam Westman (BAS ’97), Ramona Barckert (BA ’01), Suzanne Wilson (MBA ’01) and executive producer/writer Chris Pozzebon (BFA ’07). Pozzebon also received an award in Best Writing, Children’s or Youth for his work on one particular episode of the show.

In animation, Vince Commissio (BA ’86, BAS ’88, MBA ’92) was part of the team recognized in the Best Animated Program or Series category for the show “Wild Kratts,” and Richard Young (MBA ’03) earned a win in the Best Writing, Pre-School category for his work on an episode of “Dino Ranch.”

The popularity of non-scripted television also netted awards for those affiliated with York. Producer Laura Michalchyshyn (MBA ’93) and Justin Stockman (BFA ’96), vice-president of content development and programming at Bell Media, earned awards for “Canada’s Drag Race: Canada vs. The World” in the Best Reality/Competition Program or Series category. Andrea Bain (BA ’96), Cynthia Loyst (BFA ’98) and Melissa Grelo (BA, BEd ’02) all received Best Host awards for their work on lifestyle talk show “The Social.” Elsewhere in talk-show world, writer Seta Kalousdian-Tanner (BA ’92) received a Best Talk Series award for her efforts on “The Marilyn Denis Show.”

Because the Canadian Screen Awards recognize not just film and television but digital media content, there were several York alumni winners in that area, too. The CBC Gem series “How to Fail as a Popstar” – following a queer brown boy from Edmonton as he tries (and fails) to achieve pop stardom, from the perspective of the now 40-something trans femme artist that boy became – walked away with a win for Best Web Program or Series, Fiction, and earned award for the show’s star, Vivek Shraya (MA ’16), and producer, Elise Cousneau (BFA ’04). Shraya also received a Best Writing, Web Program or Series award for an episode.

“Baroness von Sketch” star Aurora Browne (BFA ’95) was recognized for Best Supporting Performance, Web Program or Series for “The Drop.” The show about two young women who launch a professional line-waiter business for the wealthy also saw its star, Aisha Evelyna (BA ’17), win Best Lead Performance.

Lastly, Ronald Ruslim (MBA ’10) won for Best Production, Interactive for Dino Dana World – an educational games app – and Jen Pogue (BA ’12) won Best Host, Web Program or Series for the online lifestyle series focused on flowers, called “County Blooms.”

For a full list of winners and nominees, visit the Canadian Screen Awards website.