For a lot of people, it’s been 2 years since they got to attend the UBCP/ACTRA awards. For me, it’s been 3 years, because former writer Darren got to cover the last one and have fun in the process. I decided now that in-person events are happening once again (they have for a while now) that this would be an opportunity to reconnect with the cool people and famous actors I’ve met at past events, as well as an opportunity to talk to Canada’s greatest upcoming talent at Vancouver’s version of the Oscars. I had fun the last time I went, and this year was just as fun. I mean, MORE fun. How was it more fun? Read on and I’ll explain all the cool highlights for this year’s UBCP/ACTRA awards. But first, I have to give some shoutouts to Karla Laird (the Team Leader for the whole night) and Ellie Harvie for all they’ve done in UBCP/ACTRA, Lesley Diana and her team of hardworking ladies for running the red carpet professionally AND putting me near the start of the carpet for interview ops, all of the great talent I got to meet and reconnect with, and everyone who helped make this show possible. Now sit back as I go into detail and prove why this Awards Ceremony deserves an award itself.
The Red Carpet – The red carpet is a great spot to talk to people who head on down for both photo opportunities and interviews. I spoke to a lot of nominees that night and great guests who came to attend and see what all the fun was about. A lot of the nominees I spoke to had a lot of positive things to say about meeting in person again and the vibe of the night. Nominee John Cassini (who won Best Lead in 2020) said he was looking forward to the night, and I even got to talk to Karla Laird and Ellie Harvie before things got really exciting. Karla said “I think the industry needs this right now. It’s a great opportunity to celebrate the performers throughout the pandemic. We get to see their efforts, their resilience, and feel their passion for the work that they do.” She was especially excited that we were all meeting together after such a long hiatus and not doing a virtual festival for once. Ellie Harvie came to kick it off and welcome everyone and she was especially excited to be hugging people again. She told me, “I hope that everyone is amazed by the amount of talent that’s out there, I love the montage we have because you actually see a wider breadth of all the roles that we’ve had over the last year. As opposed to just the nominees and winners.” She is especially pleased that the UBCP/ACTRA board is filled with talented hard-working actors and believes the union is in really good hands. But my contact wasn’t just limited to nominees, and the lovely ladies in charge. I also got to reconnect with some of the greatest people in the union I’ve gotten the pleasure of meeting in the past. Like Mackenzie Gray, Winson Won, Vincent Wong, and Meghan Hemingway. Plus I got the pleasure of meeting Janvier Katabarwa, who said “It’s always a good time to come [to the Awards Ceremony] and see all these talents, including myself, and come celebrate what we’ve achieved as a community. It’s fantastic to see everyone without masks, you can see faces and interact with people!” Janvier was right, interacting with people was fantastic, and I really felt the magic. But the night was just beginning, because soon the show was about to start, and that’s when things got more magical.
Awards Ceremony – What’s an Awards Ceremony without awards? Stationed high up in the balcony of Vancouver Playhouse, I looked down at the show like a bird perched on a high comfortable tree amongst talented union actors and long-time attendees as we admired all that went on. First we got Ellie Harvie’s welcoming speech and she told some good jokes at the beginning. Following that was the montage where many shows and movies got shouts and cheers from the audience showing their approval for content in Vancouver, especially super creative content. Next it was time for more funny stuff as Actor and Comedian Kalyn Miles stepped up on stage clad in only shorts and a white jacket setting up her home video recording set (the classic phone on a ring-light) and recording before a stage-hand told her she was in front of an audience. Sometime after Kalyn put on some pants backstage and rejoined us, she gave everyone some good laughs and some incredible compliments on the industry to make people hoot and holler their approval. I swear I could’ve heard Michael Dobson down there somewhere. Anyways, time to move on to the awards. There were a lot of them that particular night as listed here, but some that stood out to me the most were Eric McCormack’s win for Best Supporting Male in the film Drinkwater. When you have someone who has worked on Will and Grace in the past, he’s bound for all kinds of awards and amazing opportunities. While I didn’t get to talk to him, we did make eye contact and it felt amazing. The John Juliani Award for this year went to Michael Kopsa. But sadly, he passed away and his mother and daughter came on his behalf to share their fond memories of him as both an actor and a dad. Not only was he the best actor in his wife’s eyes, but his many comedic accents and stories made playtime with his daughter all the more fun. My father was similar and sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened if he took up voice acting. Another award that stood out to me was Agam Darshi’s for Best Lead Female in Donkeyhead. I spoke to Agam earlier about her experience and she told me, “I got my start here in Vancouver and it’s nice to get recognition from the people you grew up with.” and what’s especially cool about this win is she wrote, directed, AND acted in this film. The on-set experience for her was amazing and she made a family with the cast members. Donkeyhead has gotten some good recognition all over Canada, and even the male lead Stephen Lobo won an award that night as well. Something like that is obviously worth watching and the awards it wins. Even fellow writer Shaun Lang recommends this movie. And since there weren’t any in-person ceremonies for the last 2 years, UBCP/ACTRA made sure the past winners got recognition and the cheering they deserved as a slideshow presentation listed all the previous winners that night. But it wasn’t just awards at the awards ceremony. Earlier Karla told me for this year, “We’ve changed our look a little bit, we’ve changed the theme. We’ve jazzed our brand up a little bit in terms of UBCP awards.” She was right about that, as Kalyn made sure we got some good laughs in between as well introducing a great new addition to the show’s entertainment: Scripts by Kids. A segment where Kalyn got some actor friends and together they would read short scripts by kids starring two characters and the story would be a kid’s rendition of popular titles. The dialogue and action written was especially hilarious and I enjoyed those script reads being done. Another entertaining moment was the nominations for Best Stunt. Some of the teams had so many members, the audience took this as an opportunity for participation shouting out every single team member’s name for the LARGE teams. That’s a good way to show support. For the more somber moment though, after the John Juliani award we paid our respects to the deceased members of the union as Candace Churchill sang a sad song for them. Eventually, the awards came to a close with the most appropriate song for the approaching Christmas season: Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas Is You. Whatever prepares us for the holidays, I guess (but seriously, it’s an overplayed song. I prefer Inflagranti’s cover of it.)
Reception – Plenty of people gathering afterwards. There was quite a lot of chatter, some delicious sliders, and other snacks and even some drinks. It was nice to meet other people afterwards and quite a few of them complimented my look. As Karla said, “People will take away the fact that BC and Yukon’s performer talent is alive and well. They’re going to be so excited to see what else is there to come.” I agree with this statement completely, and can’t wait to see what happens next year and the upcoming years. Who knows? Given my latest surge in acting gigs, maybe one day I’ll be the one on the red carpet answering interview questions.