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Black Screen Office releases ‘Being Seen’ on creating authentic and inclusive content in Canada’s screen industries

07 February 2022

‘Being Seen’ report provides clear directives to improve representation of people who are Black, People of Colour, 2SLGBTQIA+ or People with Disabilities


Toronto  – The Black Screen Office (BSO) has released its much-anticipated report “Being Seen: Directives for Creating Authentic and Inclusive Content”, which reveals how Canada’s screen industries are falling short in representing people from Black, People of Colour, 2SLGBTQIA+, and People with Disabilities communities, and also provides clear guidelines for industry leaders to meaningfully engage these underrepresented groups. The report, its directives, and other support tools for industry professionals are available at

“BSO formed out of the knowledge that underrepresentation of the Black community is a significant issue in Canada’s screen industries,” says Joan Jenkinson, Executive Director of BSO. “With ‘Being Seen’, we gain a clearer understanding of the scope and impact of this issue for various marginalized groups. We know many structural interventions are needed to dismantle entrenched practices; ‘Being Seen’ is one of those interventions, offering practical, immediate steps that producers, creators, broadcasters, funders and others can take to create equitable opportunities, produce authentic content, and reach untapped audiences who don’t see themselves reflected in Canadian film, television and digital media.”

With initial funding by Telefilm Canada, and additional support from CBC/Radio-Canada, Bell Fund, OUTtv, Ontario Creates, Shaw Rocket Fund, REEL Canada, and Creative BC, BSO conducted English and French consultations with more than 400 industry workers and members of the public, both adults and children, who identify as Black, People of Colour, 2SLGBTQIA+ and/or People with Disabilities. Participants provided opinions on the representation of their communities onscreen and behind the scenes at all levels of the production process. Their perspectives, many of which are directly quoted in the report, informed the 52 directives in ‘Being See’ and provide a roadmap to industry equity.

“Studies like Being Seen are essential to help identify priorities and gaps in order to better support both Black creators and Black audiences,” said Cathy Wong, Vice President, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion and Official Languages at Telefilm Canada. “This significant work helps make greater steps towards fostering a more authentically told and respectfully representative screen-based industry in Canada.”

Today’s release is the first of six ‘Being Seen’ reports that BSO will issue to support the industry. It highlights common themes such as one-dimensional onscreen portrayals, the importance of authentic casting, the intersectionality of identities, regional challenges, and the impact of poor or missing representation on Canadian audiences.

“Participants in our conversations were extremely open and thoughtful about their experiences as members of underrepresented groups working in film, television and digital media and as consumers of Canadian entertainment,” says Kelly Lynne Ashton, Lead Researcher for the ‘Being Seen’ project. “They were passionate about the need for change, and shared clear ideas for how industry creators can work with communities other than their own, depict culturally sensitive content, identify when a story is theirs to tell and when it is not, and create content that avoids stereotypes.”

Subsequent ‘Being Seen’ reports will provide deeper examinations of the unique experiences and expectations of specific underrepresented groups: Representation in Children’s Media (February); Black (March 2022); People of Colour (April); 2SLGBTQIA+ (May); and People with Disabilities (May). Each report will include specific directives to improve authentic representation of and by its members.

There is a growing demand that Canada’s screen industries restructure to provide equitable opportunities for people of all backgrounds and identities so that all Canadians see themselves reflected in Canadian content. ‘Being Seen’ is one of many initiatives by BSO to support decolonizing Canada’s screen industries and building a new system in which all creators can do their best work and achieve their full potential.

To download Being Seen: Directives for Creating Authentic and Inclusive Content, visit


About Black Screen Office  

BSO’s goals are to make Canada’s screen industries practices and policies equitable and free of anti-Black racism; to work collaboratively with decision-makers to develop tools and strategies that enable system-level engagement and accountability; and to empower Black Canadians working within the screen industries to thrive and share their stories.

For more information, visit


For more information: 

Kelly Lynne Ashton | Ashton Consulting |

Joan Jenkinson | Black Screen Office |