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ACTRA Awards

The first annual ACTRA Awards – the ‘Nellies’ – took place in 1972. The Nellies were presented annually until 1986 when they transferred to the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, which continued to present the Nellie in several categories for a number of years.

In celebration of ACTRA’s 60th Anniversary, the ACTRA Awards were resurrected and are now presented by ACTRA Branches (see below) across the country. Some are performance-based awards while others honour union activism and contributions to our industry.

ACTRA National also presents an award in Los Angeles on behalf of all ACTRA Members in recognition of a member’s career achievements, and contribution to fellow performers and the Canadian industry. Recipients of the ACTRA National Award of Excellence include:

neve campbell
Neve Campbell
jason priestley
Jason Priestley

Bruce Greenwood

Eugene Levy

Sandra Oh

Kiefer Sutherland

Tonya Lee Williams

Lloyd Bochner
Leslie Nielsen

ACTRA Branch Awards

ACTRA Alberta
ACTRA Manitoba
ACTRA Maritimes (in partnership with Screen Nova Scotia)
ACTRA Montreal
ACTRA Newfoundland/Labrador
ACTRA Ottawa
ACTRA Saskatchewan
ACTRA Toronto

ACTRA’s John Drainie Award
ACTRA’s John Drainie Award is presented to a performer who, like John Drainie, is either making a difference, has made a difference or is in the process of breaking new ground in Canadian broadcasting. The award is named after John Drainie, one of Canada’s most well-known and distinguished actors, who was only 50 when he died but had already established his legacy as one of Canada’s most celebrated and well-known actors. Two years after his death, ACTRA created this award to commemorate one of its best-loved Members.

Orson Welles once called John Drainie the greatest radio actor in the world, few would disagree. Undoubtedly, John Drainie was one of Canada’s most well-known and distinguished actors; in the late ‘40s, John Drainie was the voice of CBC Radio.

A self-taught actor, John Drainie started out as part of a group of Vancouver radio artists that included fellow greats Fletcher Markle, Alan Young, Lister Sinclair, Len Peterson, Arthur Hill, Bernie Braden and Andrew Allan. They made Vancouver stand out in early radio drama before moving to Toronto during WWII to be an integral part of the CBC’s drama revolution in what was the Golden Age of Radio.

John’s versatility was showcased in hundreds of productions – including playing Matthew in the original 1956 CBC-TV production of Anne of Green Gables as well as hosting This Hour has Seven Days. However, he was perhaps best known for the five years he spent playing hired man Jake Trumper in CBC Radio’s Jake and the Kid based on the novel by W.O. Mitchell.

John died at the age of 50 in October 1966, leaving his wife Claire and six children. The eldest was Bronwyn Drainie, writer and broadcaster, who wrote his story Living the Part: John Drainie and the Dilemma of Canadian Stardom, published in 1988. John Drainie’s legacy has lived on in this award, which was established in his name by ACTRA two years after his death. The first recipients, Esse Ljungh, W.O. Mitchell, Tommy Tweed and Jean Murray, have since been joined by some of Canada’s leading performers and broadcasters.

Full list of past recipients:

John Drainie winners


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