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ACTRA names Catherine Joell MacKinnon Woman of the Year 2016

Honour bestowed in celebration of International Women’s Day

March 7, 2016 (Toronto, ON) — ACTRA is shining the spotlight on Catherine Joell MacKinnon, the 2016 ACTRA National Woman of the Year. ACTRA bestows this honour on a member who excels in both her artistic and advocacy achievements.

“It’s a tremendous honour to receive this award,” said Catherine Joell MacKinnon. “As a performer, I have been told it would be impossible to pursue an acting career simply because I could not hear. I credit my family and friends for their encouragement and persistence in telling me to not give up. I am thankful to be part of ACTRA’s initiatives to create a positive awareness for deaf actors. Promoting accessibility is the key to opening doors to great performances.”

“In celebration of International Women’s Day 2016, we are thrilled to declare Catherine Joell MacKinnon our Woman of the Year,” said ACTRA National President Ferne Downey. “Catherine is a performer, filmmaker, producer and activist – she is an inspiration to everyone working in our entertainment industry.”

Catherine was nominated in 2004 for Best Canadian Student Director for her short, I’m Not From Hear, at the Montreal World Film Festival. The film went on to win numerous awards in the U.K., Finland, Russia and the United States. In 2009, she co-produced The Hammer, which won eight film festival awards. Catherine performed live in the Vagina Monologues in Toronto with Rachel McAdams and Shirley Douglas. Selected credits include Kenny vs. Spenny, Voices of Chernobyl, Skip to the Beat and Are You Neutral? Catherine is a Ryerson University graduate with a BFA in the School of Image Arts. Dedicated to promoting equal work opportunities in the Canadian entertainment industry, Catherine’s initiatives include ACTRA’s online “Guide to Auditioning Deaf Actors” designed to educate casting decision-makers. Catherine speaks ASL (American Sign Language) and English. She is a festival director of the biennial Toronto International Deaf Film and Arts Festival.

The ACTRA Woman of the Year Award is annually bestowed on a member who uses her passion to support female ACTRA members and women within the audiovisual industry as a whole. Catherine joins past recipients Shirley Douglas, Tantoo Cardinal, Sandi Ross, Mary Walsh, Jean Freeman and Amanda Tapping.

ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is the national union of professional performers working in the English-language recorded media in Canada. ACTRA represents the interests of 22,000 members across the country – the foundation of Canada’s highly-acclaimed professional performing community.


*Photo available upon request

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Media contact: Carol Taverner, Public Relations Officer, tel:416.644.1519,

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