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Spencer Britten is a Chinese-Canadian artist “oozing with mirth and personality” (Opera Canada) from Vancouver, British Columbia. His accomplishments in Opera & Musical Theatre have led him to performances internationally with companies including Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Glyndebourne Festival, Hungarian State Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Royal Opera Versailles, Bregenzer Festspiele, The Glimmerglass Festival, Orchestre Metropolitain, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Spencer also appeared in the critically acclaimed Messiah/Complex with Against the Grain Theatre, representing the queer and asian communities in this all-canadian take on Handel’s Messiah. He also works in Social Media Marketing and is passionate about educating the next generation of performers. @spencerbritten

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Grace Chin is a Vancouver, BC-based arts administrator, editor/writer, performer, and content specialist. She is Executive Director, Crazy8s Film Society; General Manager, Ruby Slippers Theatre; co-founder, Pan-Asian Staged Reading Society; and board member, Vancouver Short Film Festival. Previously, she served on the board of Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre; was Festival Director of Vancouver Asian Film Festival; and Interim Managing Director, Vancouver international Women in Film Festival (now GEMFest). She is a member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada and of UBCP/ACTRA. As a writer/director, she has a short film, The Eulogy, completing post-production; as a writer/performer, a play, A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To Canada, that was at rEvolver Festival and STAND Festival; and as co-writer, a feature film in development, “You Can’t Curry Love.” As a performer, Grace has appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, The CW, E!, Showcase, Hallmark, Lifetime, Freeform, CBC, Netflix, and AppleTV+, as well as in short- and feature-length films. Grace regularly contributes to panels, juries, mentorship and consulting, and in a speaking or hosting capacity. Grace is googleable.

Shoutout to Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre, its board and staff and current artistic leadership, and to its founder Joyce Lam for fostering so many of us Asian Canadian artists on the west coast. vAct is a community and a platform to develop and to showcase each others’ work, to grow as creatives, and to network and collaborate with each other. It made a difference and continues to make a difference, and to provide space and a place for Asian Canadian artists and their stories and work. This is all still so very much needed to move forward, as the fight is not over! Real talk: As an arts administrator, it’s become clear to me (over years of attrition, am sure any arts administrator may relate) that for my own soul and sanity, I need a creative outlet in addition to the ops and admin. Am happy and grateful I was able write/perform a solo show that was part of rEvolver and STAND in 2023, based on personal Southeast Asian diaspora experience: A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To Canada. Excited for what may be next! Big thanks to Southeast Asian Cultural Heritage Society and Rumble Theatre for the original commission as part of Banyan: An Intercultural Ceremonial Performance, and to vAct and Ruby Slippers Theatre for workshopping it in MSG Lab and Advance Theatre Festival respectively, over the course of its four-year development. And huge thanks to both Dennis Gupa and Raugi Yu for their invaluable contributions as directors to the play, its staging, and performance!

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Camryn (she/they) is an actor and educator living and working on the unceded lands of the Sc̓əwaθən Məsteyəxw (Tsawwassen), xwməθkwəy̓ əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. She is a 2020 graduate of Capilano University’s Acting for Stage and Screen program, where she played Lady Macbeth in Macbeth. She most recently appeared as an actor/collaborator in Delta Stageworks’ newly devised show Heirlooms & Baggage (My Mother’s Story). Camryn’s original play Sometimes I Feel Like I’m Not Even Me has been performed in Vancouver, San Diego, and Jersey City. Her new original one-act play Can’t Cope recently debuted as a reading at the Arts Club’s LEAP Festival. Camryn works as a teaching artist at Bard on the Beach and Carousel Theatre, as well as at various schools across the Lower Mainland.

In reflecting on my growth in the past years as an Asian-Canadian artist, I am endlessly grateful to my devising ensemble at Delta Stageworks. As we collaborated together last year to investigate our own Mother’s stories for our project Heirlooms & Baggage (My Mother’s Story), we strived continuously to uplift each other and embrace non-hierarchical teamwork throughout the vulnerable work and exploration we were embarking on. My interrogations of my own family’s history helped me to uncover nuances of my own storytelling practice that would have remained hidden otherwise. Feel free to keep up with me on Instagram as our project continues to grow and evolve!:

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Jovanni Sy is a playwright, director, performer, and the former Artistic Director of Cahoots Theatre (Toronto) and Gateway Theatre (Vancouver).

His plays include A Taste of Empire, The Five Vengeances, Nine Dragons (Jessie Richardson Award), The Tao of the World (PGC Comedy Award), and Kowloon Bay (PGC Drama Award). He received a Silver Commission from the Arts Club (Vancouver) for his new farce Fan Tan Alley.

Directing credits include: The Orchard (After Chekhov), Yoga Play,《食盡天下》(Vancouver); Murder on the Orient Express (Calgary); Stitch (Toronto); and Blackbird, Antigone, God of Carnage (Hong Kong).

Jovanni played Mr. Miyagi in the pre-Broadway tryout of The Karate Kid, the Musical. Other recent acting credits include Forgiveness (Theatre Calgary/Arts Club) and Prison Dancer (National Arts Centre/Citadel Theatre).

This summer, he will direct the world premiere of his play Salesman in China (co-written with Leanna Brodie) for the Stratford Festival.

When I started my career in 1992, two artists were always at the forefront fighting for equitable representation in Canadian Theatre: Brenda Kamino and the late Sandi Ross. They challenged the powers-that-be at a time when there was virtually no personal upside and a huge downside. I have witnessed so much progress over 30 years and for this, we owe so much to the courage of these two women.

On a personal note, one of my great mentors and champions has been Brian Quirt. I wouldn’t have had the career I’ve had without his generous support. Brian was championing marginalized voices decades before others started following his lead. Brian, like Brenda and Sandi, is one of my personal heroes.

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Lisa Li (she/her) is an experienced Canadian theatre producer and non-profit theatre executive. She was a Producer for Soulpepper Theatre Company from 2016-2020. She has worked for the Shaw Festival and is on the faculty of Sheridan College. Her freelance and consulting credits include Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Manitoba Arts Council, and various Toronto indie companies. She was the Chair of the Board of ARC from 2019 – 2023. Since 2020, Lisa Li has been the Chair of Labour Relations on the Board of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres. Presently, Lisa Li is the Managing Director of Prairie Theatre Exchange, a position she will hold until June 2024, at which time she will begin her time as Executive Director of Tarragon Theatre, returning to her home city of Toronto.

On Self-Care: When I entered into a leadership position, I knew I would need to establish clear relationship boundaries with the people I would be working and interacting with. This includes artists, other theatre leaders, staff within the company, friends who work in theatre, mentors/mentees, etc. Setting this boundary and sticking to it has been the best decision I’ve ever made, and it’s helped me tremendously in terms of my mental health, and ensuring little to no power imbalance, and no abuse of relationships. I aim to make friends outside of the industry and that gave me a perspective outside of theatre which is so important to have in this business. The second self-care recommendation I have as a theatre arts worker: Get a life! Get a life outside of theatre, it’ll fuel your work when you have work, and it’ll save you when theatre isn’t going the way you want it to.

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Bobby is a multi hyphenate Director, Producer and Casting Consultant. He has worked in film, television, stage and live concert entertainment, directing over 50 plays and musicals in Canada and throughout the Asian region including mainland China, Hong Kong SAR, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Singapore. He founded one of Asia’s most prolific and successful theatre companies, Atlantis Productions/Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group in 1999. He was also an Associate Director for Miss Saigon (2000/2001) and was Hong Kong Disneyland’s first show director opening the park in 2005.

Bobby has represented casting for Cameron Mackintosh in the Philippines for the revival of MISS SAIGON and the UK Tour. He has also been a casting consultant in the Asian region for the National Theatre of London and the Broadway production of HERE LIES LOVE (Tara Rubin Casting) directed by Alex Timbers, the Broadway revival of M.BUTTERFLY (Telsey + Co) directed by Julie Taymor, the International Tour of Disney’s THE LION KING (Disney Theatrical International) directed by Julie Taymor, the London revival/UK Tour of THE KING AND I (James Orange Casting) directed by Bartlett Sher and the film CONCLAVE (Nina Gold Casting/ House Productions). He is the winner of three Aliw Awards for Direction (live entertainment awards in the Philippines) and has been inducted into their Hall of Fame.

As a producer, Bobby has spearheaded over 65 productions (including 20 international premieres) in the Asian region. On Broadway, he was a co-producer of the groundbreaking and historic musical HERE LIES LOVE .

There have been studies that show that our thinking process is shaped by the kinds of crops that our ancestors had to farm. These studies have shown that due to the nature of how they are cultivated, rice farming seems to have fostered collective thinking while wheat farming favoured individualism. The studies further show that immigrants who hold onto their origin story have the advantage of being able to think both ways.

It is a very interesting study that I think about often — what are the unique vantage points that my immigrant journey has brought me?

It was also something that was reinforced early in my directing career by having a mentor who shared a similar departure point in his odyssey to North America . The brilliant artistic leader Chay Yew began his journey in Singapore while mine began in the neighbouring Philippines. I knew that finding a mentor with a common starting point was rare, so I made the most of every moment we had together. I count myself blessed to have had Chay as a mentor. Working under him at the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles during the post-Cold War 1990’s taught me so much about understanding and embracing my heritage and recognizing the immense power it had to shape my voice as a storyteller. It is because of Chay’s mentorship that my now being a mentor to younger BIPOC artists is of great importance. I hope to continue to be available to emerging artists the way Chay has been to many. Already, I have been inspired by the crazy talented mentees that I have had the pleasure of sharing my experience with and welcoming into my rehearsal rooms.

To them I say what Chay once said to me, know your story. It is a powerful gift. If Theatre is truly about investigating the world we live in in an effort to understand what it means to be human, then our voice and our unique thinking process is as important as any other. And what better a time to celebrate our voices, both individually and collectively, than during Asian Heritage month.

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Stafford Arima is a graduate of York University, where he received the Dean’s Prize for Excellence in Creative Work. He is currently the Artistic Director of Theatre Calgary. Selected directing credits include — Broadway: Allegiance, Seussical (Associate Director), A Class Act (Associate Director); West End: Ragtime (Olivier nominated); Stratford Festival of Canada: Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris; USA: Altar Boyz, Carrie, The Tin Pan Alley Rag, A Tribute to Stephen Sondheim, Dial M for Murder, Candide, Red Velvet; Canada: Forgiveness, A Christmas Carol, Billy Elliot, Mary & Max; International: Bhangra Nation, The Secret Garden, Broadway Dreams.

In 1993, I began a decade-long journey of mentoring and assisting on musicals. When I think back thirty-one years, my heart is so full reminiscing on the educators and theatre practitioners who led with generosity, kindness, and trust – women and men including Ron Singer (York University), Dene Lettman and Carol Welton (Kenton Drive Public School), Vincent Liff (Casting Director), Fred Hanson (Production Supervisor, Miss Saigon), Terrence McNally (Playwright), Lynn Ahrens (Lyricist), Frank Galati (Director), Stephen Flaherty (Composer), and Harold Prince (Director). I found solace in the company of these mentors who gave me space to escape from the realities of the real world and encouraged me to find truth within the world of make-believe. I’ve carried with me the voices and teachings of this group of people and have been able to apply those awakenings in my career and my artistic practice. Most recently, I had the privilege of directing a new play by Hiro Kanagawa who adapted the memoir “Forgiveness” by Mark Sakamoto. This production was near and dear to my heart since the Japanese Canadian internment touched my family in a literal and visceral way. To be able to collaborate with Hiro, Mark, and a cast and creative team of stellar Asian-Canadian artists was a dream come true. Having directed the Broadway musical Allegiance in 2015 with a cast and creative team of Asian American talents, I was tremendously excited to work with Asian-Canadians on Forgiveness. Recently returning from the UK where I had the joy of directing a new musical called Bhangra Nation, I was moved by the South-Asian cast, and the many artists on the creative team that helped create this story of identity and embracing our differences. All these projects brought understanding, awareness, and connection to my life in ways that will never be forgotten. All our stories are rich, complex, universal, and unique – as are the artists, and I am eager to continue the adventures of telling Asian stories from all over the world.

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Nestor (he/she/they) is a Toronto/Stratford based actor, singer, dancer. Nestor’s artistry aims to challenge stereotypes, spark conversations and create space where authenticity and vulnerability shine.

Nestor invites audiences to explore the complexities of the human experience by fostering empathy and understanding – providing way for the kaleidoscope of emotions that make us unapologetically beautiful.

Catch Nestor in the Stratford Festival’s 2024 season as Tink in Wendy and Peter Pan and appearing in Salesman in China. Past Stratford credits: Angel Dumott Schunard in RENT and Mrs. Whatsit in A Wrinkle in Time

As an Asian-Canadian theatre actor, my journey is a tapestry woven with both the joys of performance and the challenges of navigating a predominantly white industry. One poignant experience that exemplifies my practice in overcoming daily barriers occurred during rehearsals for a production of a classic play.

In one scene, my character was involved in a romantic subplot with another character. However, as an Asian actor, I often found myself grappling with the stereotype of being desexualized or relegated to secondary roles in romantic narratives. Despite this, I was determined to bring authenticity and depth to my character’s romantic arc.

To navigate this challenge, I engaged in open and honest conversations with the creative team and fellow cast members about the importance of representing diverse narratives on stage. I shared personal anecdotes and perspectives, advocating for a portrayal that honored the complexities of interracial relationships without falling into clichés or stereotypes.

Through collaboration and mutual respect, we worked together to redefine the dynamics of the romantic subplot, infusing it with genuine emotion and cultural sensitivity. We strived to create a portrayal that resonated with audiences while challenging preconceived notions of race and romance.

In the end, our efforts paid off. The subplot became a poignant highlight of the production, praised for its authenticity and emotional resonance. This experience taught me the power of advocacy and collaboration in overcoming barriers in the theatre industry.

As an Asian-Canadian actor, I continue to navigate daily challenges with resilience and creativity, using my voice and experiences to shape narratives that reflect the diversity of our world. By staying true to myself and advocating for representation, I strive to create meaningful and impactful performances that resonate with audiences of all backgrounds.

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Evelyn is an actor and educator. She is a mentor with the UBCP Diversity and Inclusion mentorship program and a facilitator with LEAD Ensemble at Neworld Theatre. Selected credits include: Canada, It’s Complicated (Mary Walsh), Reflections In Crooked Walking (Firehall Arts Centre), The Five Vengeances (Affair Of Honour), Bedstefader (Caravan Farm Theatre), She Has A Name (Burnt Thicket Theatre), Are We There Yet? (Jessie Award Recipient, Neworld Theatre), The Mysterious Benedict Society (Fox/Hulu), Narcoleap (KGP Films, Leo Award Receipt). She is a graduate of both Douglas College and Studio 58 Acting Programs. Evelyn is passionate about creating healthy work practices and likes to lead with love.

One of the greatest honours I’ve had recently is teaching and mentoring younger artists. There’s a feedback loop. Sometimes it’s a gift to give just as much as it is to receive. I often find myself trying to take my own advice like “Keep going, believe in yourself, be kind, find your own way…” I’ll be acting at Bard On The Beach this summer. When take on certain roles and projects, it’s my way of honouring and taking care of my younger self.

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Hannah is a proud fourth generation Japanese Canadian raised on Treaty 7 Territory within Blackfoot Confederacy lands (Calgary, Alberta). She is a neurodivergent artist and a member of the LGBTQIA2S+ community who identifies as pansexual. These identities, as well as her Japanese Canadian heritage, inform her artistic practice and place equity and accessibility at the centre. Through her work, Hannah seeks to engage audiences with positive representations of Japanese culture, as well as challenge them through a variety of theatrical practices.

Hannah is a director, creator, and puppeteer, as well as a graduate of UVic’s Theatre program (2019); she directed her first devised play, Kansha, as part of Intrepid Theatre’s YOU Show (2018) with support from the Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society and the National Association of Japanese Canadians Young Leader Fund. Hannah is committed to helping improve representation for underrepresented communities in Victoria.

I’d like to pay tribute to one of the best mentors I could have ever asked for: Claire Sakaki. Claire is a kind and generous leader and she was a tremendous support to me when I was feeling lost and stuck in a very difficult situation. To be privileged to get mentored by someone in the Japanese-Canadian community is one thing but to have someone who gave me the space to be my authentic self and learn/grow to be a leader in my community is tremendous. I am grateful that we met at PACT in 2023 and that she has given me the confidence to be a leader for the Japanese-Canadian community in Victoria and represent the community with authentic storytelling.