Andre De Grasse, Fabienne Colas and Kayla Gray honored at The Legacy Awards

Sprinter Andre De Grasse, sportscaster Kayla Gray and filmmaker Fabienne Colas were among the honorees at The Legacy Awards on Sunday night, billed as the first major prime-time awards show to celebrate black talent in the country.

Actors Shamier Anderson and Stephan James founded The Legacy Awards to highlight exceptional black Canadians with a platform they felt they were lacking. The brothers, who grew up in Toronto’s Scarborough neighborhood, are screen stars at home and in Hollywood, with Anderson starring in “John Wick: Chapter 4” and James set to play artist Jean-Michel Basquiat in an upcoming project.

“This whole idea started when Shamier and I would go to all these award shows and see little to no people of color,” said James, who kept the night of accolades and performances flowing as host alongside Anderson. “So we decided that things have to change.”

Each award winner was chosen by an advisory committee made up of experts in music, film, television and pop culture, as well as The Black Academy. The only exception was the Digital Creator’s Fan Choice Award voted for by the public.

De Grasse, a six-time Olympic medalist, was honored as Athlete of the Year for his “exemplary achievements in sport in Canada and the world along with his contribution to Black Canadian identity.”

De Grasse gracefully accepted the honor at Toronto History headquarters, where the CBC broadcast took place, thanking his family.

“You guys keep me grounded and encourage me to be the best version of myself,” he said.

De Grasse took home medals in all three sprint events at the 2016 Rio Olympics and later at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. He also founded the Andre De Grasse Family Foundation in 2018 to inspire and empower young people through access to sports, education and health care.

Grey, a Toronto-based sports broadcaster and producer, joined the recipient list and is known as the first black woman to host a featured sports program in Canada with TSN’s SportsCentre in 2018.

For her “unmistakable talent and activism,” she was awarded the French Jahmil Award, named after the late Canadian actor from “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” awarded to a “rising star” within the Canadian media landscape.

“Look at our beauty, our strength. What resides between these walls, and if that energy could speak, what would it say? How do we move individually, collectively, which leads me to ask, what the hell are they so afraid of? ?” Gray said through tears as he accepted the award from him.

Gray asked her award presenters, journalists Brandon Gonez and Kathleen Newman-Bremang, to accompany her.

“Everyone in this room, I love you very much,” Gray told an audience of motionless onlookers. “And thank you for loving me back.

Meanwhile, Haitian-Canadian film festival founder, actor and director Colas was honored with the Visionnaire Award for supporting diversity on and off screen through organizations like the Fabienne Colas Foundation.

Colas thanked former Governor General Michaelle Jean, who was on stage to present him with the Legacy Visionary Award, citing the importance of having a black mentor in such a prominent position.

“You led me and so many women of color to dream a bigger dream for themselves,” Colas said, noting that she moved to Canada from Haiti in 2003, two years before Jean became Canada’s first black governor general. Canada.

Colas emphasized the lack of inclusion in the Canadian media. At one point during his acceptance speech, he gave the analogy of taking a picture of the entire room, reminding the audience that when the picture is featured on the 11 o’clock news, some people may suddenly notice that they are not in the image.

“Well, that is exactly what is happening everywhere in Canada, every day, to a part of the population. They are part of our society, but they are not included, they are excluded from what should be the mirror of society, which is television. and the cinema”.

She said change could happen through mass inclusion and support from black-led organizations and festivals and BIPOC.

Style influencer Ika Wong won the Digital Creator Fans Choice Award.

In addition to awards and speeches, the evening was decorated with live performances by Canada’s most prominent black musicians, including Kardinal Offishall, Deborah Cox, Fefe Dobson, Alicia Mighty and Melanie Fiona, among others.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 25, 2022.

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