2024 AMP Cohort

This year’s ensemble is a diverse group of emerging and experienced theatre artists who demonstrate talent, skill and potential in their respective disciplines.
Samuel Kugbiyi

Samuel Kugbiyi is a trained thespian. He has played several roles including “Judge” in the classical musical “Trial by Jury” by Gilbert & Sullivan, and in contemporary plays by Wole Soyinka, Ola Rotimi and even his own plays. As a voice actor, he has been featured in audio projects by BBC Media Action, and UNESCO amongst others. He has received training from the University of Ilorin, from veteran actors such as Segun Arinze and Ramson Noah at the African Film Festival and voice acting lessons from Nancy Cartwright.

Recently, Sam has successfully directed and acted in “Beere”- a play based on the true events of the Funmilayo Ransom Kuti–led women’s revolt against the oppressive government in 1940s Nigeria. The play has gone on tour in 2 Nigerian states with raving reviews.


Sam enjoys singing, acting, directing, drawing, writing and watching a good TV show.

Ado Nkemba

Ado Nkemka (A.N.) is a pop-rock musician (recording artist, singer, songwriter, teacher, and guitarist) and multi-disciplinary writer (playwriting, poetry, journalism) based in Calgary, AB on Treaty 7 territory. She has a Bachelor of Sociology from Mount Royal University. Her
bylines include Avenue Magazine, Summit Magazine (forthcoming), artsUNITE, Best Health among other publications. Her writing explores identity development, neurodivergence, and arts and culture.

Duane Forrest

Duane Forrest is a professional singer-songwriter and multimedia artist from Toronto, Ontario. His unique sound blends jazz, reggae, bossa nova, soul, and smooth vocals. Over the past decade, Forrest has released two full-length original albums and toured in Canada three times, in Europe four times, and in Central America three times. He has secured radio play in Canada, Germany, Honduras, Iceland, Italy, Nicaragua, and the United States. His latest album, The Climb, reaches more than 4,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.
In 2017, Duane debuted his first theatre production, Climb, a live album experience based on his concept album, The Climb. Duane also presented Climb at the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival, where Toronto Fringe founder Gregory Nixon described the show as “one of the highlights of this year’s Fringe.” Most recently in 2019 & 2022 Climb received glowing reviews at the
Edinburgh Fringe Festival. As he furthers his career, Forrest aims to continue to push the boundaries of his art by delivering music in diverse storytelling formats.
Duane has just released his new EP “Blackest Bird” which speaks to political issues facing the Canadian Black community. Currently, Duane is developing a new album called “Sunrise in Jasper ” that will explore Indigenous and Black experience in present day Canada into it’s
history. He is excited to use music to further shine light on issues of social justice and change.

Inès Vieux Francoeur

Inès Vieux Francoeur is a queer, Montreal-born emerging actor, playwright, and producer who has performed as Sandpiper in Yvette Nolan’s The Birds as well as Lady in Green and Lady in Orange in Ntozage Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf with Black Theatre Workshop and the MAI. Since starting her multi-hyphenated journey in 2018, she has studied under Gemini-nominated actor Miranda Handford and is currently participating in Teesri Duniya’s Shared Dreams acting and writing program. After co-writing and producing All’s Well That Ends at the 2023 Montreal Fringe Festival, she is currently working on writing and developing her second play, A Play About Doing the Wrong Thing, as well as Pigpen, a collection of poetry. Passionate about collaborative storytelling and community-based learning, lnès looks forward to immersing herself in more stories and collective creations in the coming years.

Keith Fernandez
Lamesha Ruddock

Lamesha is a cultural producer, stage manager and historian. Lamesha is currently Co-Executive Director of Boundless Theatre and Creative Director of Blemme Fatale Productions. As a historian of 20th century Black British feminist history, she produces theatre and events that aims to promote active engagement with Black Diasporic History and to enable people with the skills to respond creatively. She follows the motto of each one, teach one as she feels a responsibility to spread what she knows in the hopes of healing the effects of colonialism on knowing one’s history, culture and language.
As part of the stage management team, Lamesha has worked for The Yard Theatre, The Royal Court, Victoria Palace Theatre, The Old Vic, The King’s Head and Cocoa Butter Club.
Lamesha has produced productions and events at venues like Theatre Royal Stratford East, Battersea Arts Centre, Riverside Studios, Pop Brixton and Streatham Space Project.

Lisa-Willia 

Henry Austin Shikongo (he/him) is an actor from Ottawa, Ontario. He has performed in Canada, the United States and has toured internationally. Henry is a graduate of the Ottawa Theatre School, studied physical theatre at Dell Arte International, and holds an MFA from the American Repertory Theatre Institute at Harvard University. He is just about to begin a level 2 Intimacy Direction course and is on full scholarship for a 3 year Alexander Technique Teacher Training certification. He is pleased to announce he just recently became a full member of ACTRA and SAG-AFTRA. He is thrilled to join the BTW’s Artist Mentorship Program and is appreciative of this unique and inclusive opportunity for BIPOC artists across the country. 

Elena Stoodley

 

Isaac Cunningham is an actor, born and raised in Manchester, England. From the age of 15, Isaac attended the Oldham Theatre Workshop and later went on to study Theatre and Performance at the University of Leeds. Since 2017, Isaac has been living and working in Toronto, strengthening his acting craft in classes for stage and screen, and has appeared in several short films and digital projects. He is currently in rehearsals for We Are Here, a play directed by Judith Thompson and will appear as a series regular in the upcoming Sloppy Jones show. 

Mel PickeringI am Natasha “Courage” Bacchus, I am former 3 times DeafOlympican Sprinter. Since 2019, I have participated as an actress for  “The Black Drum”, “The Two Natasha’s”,  “21 Black Futures”, TV film Season 4 Netflix “The Corner”. I have participated as an art collaborator with numerous theatre and film productions in Canada as an interdisciplinary visual artist, art accessibility consultant, and activist for IBPOC Deaf art community and expanding IBPOC Deaf artists representation. 
Misé Johns

 

Peace Akintade is an African-Canadian Interdisciplinary Poet, Public-Speaker on Immigration and Refugee Rights, and Thespian residing in Saskatoon Saskatchewan. Former 2020- 2021 Saskatchewan Youth Poet Laureate, Co-coordinator of Write Out Loud, a Saskatoon-based Youth Poetry Community. Currently attaining an Anthropology degree at UofS, Peace values the influence of storytelling when bridging cultural strife in foreign lands. Part of the Youth Speaker’s Bureau for the Office of the Treaty Commissioner. Recently one of the 21 Black Playwrights chosen for the Obsidian Theatre’s 21 Black Future Project. Her play “Madness with Rocks” can be found on CBCArts and CBCGem. Her poems focus on the impact of colonialization as a first-generation immigrant, and the liberation and strength of Black Joy. 

Natasha ”Courage” BacchusSasha Hayden is of Jamaican and Canadian descent. She’s committed and passionate about her craft, and believes representation matters. 

Sasha was born in Calgary, Alberta. Her studies started at Company of Rogues Actors’ Studio. Sasha is now based in Vancouver where she continues to take an array of classes. Currently, she trains online at The Imagined Life Studio in L.A. 

She’s had appearances on networks such as Netflix, Lifetime, Hallmark and more. Recent credits include Love Guaranteed, Firefly Lane, Wendy Williams and more. 

Nalo Soyini Bruce

Paul Smith (he/il) is a Thursday-born performer, creator, and facilitator from Stittsville, ON., Treaty 27. Since graduating from the Dan School of Drama and Music at Queen’s University, he uses his intersectionalities to create non-hierarchical spaces for a new generation of artists. Today, he explores how narratives that center marginalized bodies can be adapted into stories of reclamation, innovation, and protest. When not writing his autobiomyth “Anansi v. God(s)“, or thinking about the symbiotic relationship between theatre and film, Paul is developing his art practice through the principles of Sankofa, and listening to Frank Ocean (on repeat). 

Natasha Thomassha Hayden is of Jamaican and Canadian descent. She’s committed and passionate about her craft, and believes representation matters. 

Sasha was born in Calgary, Alberta. Her studies started at Company of Rogues Actors’ Studio. Sasha is now based in Vancouver where she continues to take an array of classes. Currently, she trains online at The Imagined Life Studio in L.A. 

She’s had appearances on networks such as Netflix, Lifetime, Hallmark and more. Recent credits include Love Guaranteed, Firefly Lane, Wendy Williams and more. 

Stella Lemaine Tara L. Taylor – East Preston, NS;  Light House GO Manager; Festival Director – Emerging Lens Cultural Film Festival; CBC Arts & Cultural Columnist; Playwright Atlantic Resource and Women in Film & Television – Atlantic board member; Inaugural Artist in Residence for the Halifax Public Libraries;  2021 Winner of the African Nova Scotian Music Awards Industry Development Award for her body of work in presenting musical theatre and film; a Proud Mom of four; a playwright, filmmaker, multimedia artist, singer, actress.    

 

Anton May 

Anton May (he/him) is a British born, now Montreal based Creator/Performer, an honors graduate from Dawson College’s Professional Theatre Program and alumni of Black Theatre Workshop’s Artist Mentorship Program in the acting discipline (2016-17). He has had the privilege to perform across eastern Canada as well as in New York as a singer and actor. In 2018, he was the recipient of the META for Outstanding Emerging Artist (performance). The pandemic allowed him to focus on his writing. Something he’s always been passionate about, but never had
the time to pursue. In his writing, he focuses on QPOC (queer people of color) struggles. He tackles these themes through poetry/spoken word. He continues to seek out opportunities to tell stories through the black queer gaze through song, dance, and poetry. His latest digital work An
Account Of Many was showcased in BTW’s Belonging Project (2021) alongside many powerful queer black stories. He is also a proud member of the Montreal Kiki Ballroom scene (as Godfather Broadway Mulan) where he frequently competes and emcees for the dwolls at Balls in both Toronto and Montreal. When he’s not acting, he’s voguing or performing in concerts and
Cabarets singing or moving audiences with his poetry.

Makeda Romanetti Tara L. Taylor – East Preston, NS;  Light House GO Manager; Festival Director – Emerging Lens Cultural Film Festival; CBC Arts & Cultural Columnist; Playwright Atlantic Resource and Women in Film & Television – Atlantic board member; Inaugural Artist in Residence for the Halifax Public Libraries;  2021 Winner of the African Nova Scotian Music Awards Industry Development Award for her body of work in presenting musical theatre and film; a Proud Mom of four; a playwright, filmmaker, multimedia artist, singer, actress.    

 

Paul Smithsha Hayden is of Jamaican and Canadian descent. She’s committed and passionate about her craft, and believes representation matters. 

Sasha was born in Calgary, Alberta. Her studies started at Company of Rogues Actors’ Studio. Sasha is now based in Vancouver where she continues to take an array of classes. Currently, she trains online at The Imagined Life Studio in L.A. 

She’s had appearances on networks such as Netflix, Lifetime, Hallmark and more. Recent credits include Love Guaranteed, Firefly Lane, Wendy Williams and more. 

Rebekha Alberts-GillTara L. Taylor – East Preston, NS;  Light House GO Manager; Festival Director – Emerging Lens Cultural Film Festival; CBC Arts & Cultural Columnist; Playwright Atlantic Resource and Women in Film & Television – Atlantic board member; Inaugural Artist in Residence for the Halifax Public Libraries;  2021 Winner of the African Nova Scotian Music Awards Industry Development Award for her body of work in presenting musical theatre and film; a Proud Mom of four; a playwright, filmmaker, multimedia artist, singer, actress.    

 

Riel Reddick-Stevenssha Hayden is of Jamaican and Canadian descent. She’s committed and passionate about her craft, and believes representation matters. 

Sasha was born in Calgary, Alberta. Her studies started at Company of Rogues Actors’ Studio. Sasha is now based in Vancouver where she continues to take an array of classes. Currently, she trains online at The Imagined Life Studio in L.A. 

She’s had appearances on networks such as Netflix, Lifetime, Hallmark and more. Recent credits include Love Guaranteed, Firefly Lane, Wendy Williams and more. 

Black Theatre Workshop

Black Theatre Workshop is Canada’s longest running Black theatre company and is committed to reflecting Black culture and community by developing and providing visibility for Black Canadian artists. Black Theatre Workshop is an award-winning English-speaking theatre company based in Montreal, Quebec.

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