NETWORKING: THE HOW-TO RULES FOR APPROACHING PEOPLE IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY
The entertainment industry is not only about talent but also the ability to network. Knowing how to approach people with the intent of creating powerful bonds and solid support systems will take you a long way. With the internet facilitating the approach and tools like Linkedin giving us direct access to important names in the industry, what is the protocol to make that first contact? How do you reach out to people, and which is better? An in-person introduction or a cold email? How does one recognize and take advantage of each of those opportunities, and most importantly, what not to do when a great opportunity presents itself?
Lisa Michelle Cornelius, Actor & Producer
Lisa Michelle Cornelius is a CSA-nominated actor, singer and producer with a vast resume of performances on Canadian and American film & television. Some of her notable film & tv performances include Band Ladies (Highball TV), Star Trek: Short Treks (CBS), Chucky (SyFy) and A Sisterly Christmas on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).
Most recently, Lisa Michelle landed a recurring role in Director X’s upcoming dramatic series Robyn Hood, slated for release on Global TV in the spring.
As a producer, Lisa Michelle’s growing list of credits include the short film Rainbow Baby, the feature film Pattern official and more are in development from her production company Sunday Baby Films.
Dalton Higgins, Publicist & Author
Dalton Higgins is a PR strategist & publicist, author of six books, festival producer, National Magazine Award-winning print journalist and TV/radio/podcast personality. Dalton teaches a hugely popular course called "Deconstructing Drake & The Weeknd" at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) that has been featured on CNN, New York Times, NPR, among a ton of other media outlets.
Jennifer Holness, Writer, Producer & Director
Jen Holness is a happy workaholic. She writes, produces, and directs. She is the first Black woman in Canada to win a CSA (Gemini) for best writing, is the 2021 Indiescreen Producer of the Year and a 2022 WIFT Creative Excellence Award winner.
Her recent feature doc, Subjects of Desire, has won numerous festival awards and was a 2021 TIFF top 10 film.
Her narrative feature films include Home Again and Love, Sex and Eating the Bones, with the latter winning a Best First Feature at TIFF. She is currently in pre-production on her latest feature, 40 Acres, and has several series in development for the 2024 production slate.
Mark Samuels, Choreographer & Movement Coach
Mark Samuels is an international choreographer based out of Toronto & Vancouver. He's worked in the dance industry for nearly 30 years and has an extensive resume of creative work in music, tv & film. His diverse portfolio can be seen in Disney, Netflix and major label recording artists worldwide.
Richard Young, Screenwriter & Actor
Richard Young is a Caribbean-Canadian screenwriter/actor. Writing credits include “Overlord and the Underwoods” (CBC/Nickelodeon), "Dino Ranch" (CBC/Disney+), "16 Hudson" (TVO), "Sudden Master" (OMNI) and "Maternal" (CBC Reflections, Best Short: Caribbean Tales Film Festival). Acting credits include “Transplant” (NBC/CTV), "Taken" (NBC), "Jett" (Cinemax), "Kim's Convenience" (CBC) and "Odd Squad" (PBS/TVO).
Samora Smallwood, Actress and Creator
Samora Smallwood is an award winning, classically trained actor, writer, & cool feminist of West African & Caucasian descent. Most recently Samora won a Canadian Screen Award for "Best Lead Actress" in a movie for television. Samora is fluent in French, proficient in Spanish & a lover of action who is trained in stage combat, fighting for TV & Film, and archery. She is an elected Councillor at ACTRA and held the position of Diversity & Inclusion co-chair for 4 years. Samora is also the founder of The Actors Work Studio, an innovative acting studio in Toronto. Samora’s work includes her award winning performance in the lead role of the Lifetime’s thriller “Death She Wrote”, a recurring guest star on OWN's highly anticipated new drama "The Kings of Napa”, recurring on Star Trek Discovery, Star Trek Short Treks (in an Emmy award winning episode), The Expanse, American Gods, Coroner, Shadowhunters, and Good Witch, among others. Samora's recent work also includes voice performance in Ubisoft’s Far Cry 6.
Upcoming in 2023, Samora recurs in Apple TV’s new series "The Big Cigar" directed by Don Cheadle, leads an episode of Apple TV's new sci-fi anthology series "Circuit Breakers”, recurs in Hallmark's new series "The Way Home", did her own stunts starring alongside Sean Astin in the feature film "A Social Contract" and is back recurring in Season 2 of the CSA winning series “Tokens”. Trained in the theatre, Samora won the “Best Actress” Theatre Windsor Award for her portrayal of May Henning in Norm Foster’s “The Affections of May” & was nominated for a 2020 ACTRA award for Best Series Ensemble for her work in “Tokens”. Samora's passion is telling fresh, emotionally resonant stories and promoting diversity on-screen and behind the camera. She was recently a jury member for The Canadian Screen Awards, The Female Eye Film Festival & The Caprius Film Festival as well as a selected participant in The Reelworld Film Festival's "Emerging 20" Talent to Watch Program. Samora is also a passionate public speaker whose recent work includes hosting panels at TIFF, Official International Women’s Day, ACTRA Toronto, and the Forest City Film Festival. Samora also received development funding for her thriller series, GONE, from the Canada Council/CBC Creation Accelerator.