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Winter 2022 President’s Speakers Series

Curated by President Ana Serrano, the President's Speakers Series showcases leaders in art and design who identify as Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) in conversation with OCAD U faculty members, sharing their international experience with our community. The series is presented by The Sherman Foundations.  

Sustaining Black Creativity: A conversation with Dr. Zoé Whitley 

January 11, 2022, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  
Registration is now open for this virtual event 

The first event in the series, Sustaining Black Creativity features Dr. Zoé Whitley, one of the UK’s most influential art curators.  

Dr. Whitley, whose work as an exhibition maker and art historian focuses on contemporary artists from Africa and the African diaspora, will discuss the future of Black art with Associate Professor in the Faculty of Art, Dr. Andrea Fatona. 

The free-ranging conversation will focus on sustainability in the arts community, specifically, how to build a future where BIPOC artists thrive.  

Los Angeles-born, London-based Dr. Whitley began her career examining representations of Blackness in creative industries. Today, she is a Black leader in the arts and is at the forefront of empowering diverse voices.  

In 2007, while a curator at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, she presented Uncomfortable Truths, an exhibition that commemorated the bicentenary of the abolition of the British slave trade and examined traces of this history in contemporary art and design. 

She went on to curate Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power in 2013, which showcased artworks by more than sixty artists in the United States, responding to the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. She is currently the Director of Chisenhale Gallery.  

Moderator, Dr. Andrea Fatona is a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Canadian Black Diasporic Cultural Production and is the Director of the Centre for the Study of Black Canadian Diaspora. Dr. Fatona's expertise focuses on issues of equity and representation in the arts. 

How to Dress a Terran Emperor:  
A Respectful Dialogue with Costume Designer Gersha Phillips 

Postponed. Check back for new scheduled date/time (formerly scheduled for February 11, 2022 at 10 a.m

The second event in the series, How to Dress a Terran Emperor: A Respectful Dialogue with Costume Designer Gersha Phillips features the award-winning costume designer in conversation with the Dean of the Faculty of Design, Dr. Dori Tunstall.  

The discussion will be rooted in Phillip’s experience working on a range of film and television productions including, Star Trek: Discovery and the role 3D printing and other advanced technologies play in her design process.  

Born in England to parents of Caribbean and African descent, Phillips and her family moved to Canada when she was 12 years old. Since then, she has worked in costume and wardrobe design with Hollywood's A-list including, Angela Bassett, Benedict Cumberbatch and Dwayne Johnson. She is currently working on the film, The Woman King, starring Viola Davis, set to be released in 2022.  

Her costume design work has been shown in exhibitions including Otherworldly: The Art of Canadian Costume Design at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in 2011. In 2022, her designs for Star Trek: Discovery will be on view at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC. 

Together with moderator, Dr. Dori Tunstall, Phillips will address diversity and inclusion in film and television and offer tips on where design students might find professional opportunities in Toronto’s entertainment industry. 

News Summary
The initiative showcases BIPOC leaders in the creative sector.
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logo of the president's speakers series with text "presented by the Sherman Foundations"

OCAD University’s President and Vice-Chancellor Ana Serrano is the 2021 recipient of the Crystal Award for Digital Trailblazer, an honour bestowed by Women in Film & Television Toronto (WIFT Toronto). The award recipients were announced on November 2, 2021.

The Crystal Awards recognize Canadian women who are leaders in the film, television and media industries, and celebrate excellence in creativity, entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership. Serrano joins Dr. Shirley Cheecho, Jennifer Holness, Anita Lee and Jane Tattersall who will receive their awards on March 8, 2022 at WIFT Toronto’s first in-person gala since 2019.

The Digital Trailblazer Award specifically recognizes a recipient’s innovations in Canada’s digital and interactive media industries.

Since its inception in 1988, more than 150 exceptional women have received Crystal Awards, which also recognize the commitment by recipients to mentoring the next generation of creators and industry leaders. Crystal Award winners have a minimum of 10 years of experience in the film industry and are selected by an independent jury of previous award recipients.

“It truly is an honour to be recognized by Women in Film & Television Toronto and to be among so many distinguished industry leaders and changemakers. WIFT is a critical organization that celebrates and propels the careers of women in media and I’m so pleased to be a part of their ecosystem,” said President Serrano.

Before joining OCAD U as President and Vice-Chancellor in July 2020, Serrano was the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) of the Canadian Film Centre (CFC) where she founded CFC Media Lab, the world-renowned and award-winning institute for interactive storytelling.

As CDO, she drove the digital evolution of the CFC, which resulted in its current form as a product and company accelerator and creative production house. In 2012, she launched Canada’s first digital entertainment accelerator IDEABOOST with founding partners Shaw Media, Corus Entertainment and Google.

Throughout her career, Serrano has directed the development of more than 140 digital media projects, mentored more than 70 start-ups and has received numerous awards from the digital media, film and theatre industries in Canada, United States and France.

The 2021 awards are sponsored by major multinational media and entertainment companies, Bell Media Inc., Entertainment One Ltd. and Company3.

This year’s jury included: Mary Bredin, creative development producer, Green Tiger Club Ltd.; Alison Duke, producer/director; and Beth Janson, CEO, Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.

News Summary
The award recognizes a recipient’s innovations in Canada’s digital and interactive media industries.
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Portrait of President Ana Serrano with dark hair and a dark background.


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