A local artistic network has new leadership for the first time in over two decades.
Award-winning Canadian actor and producer Ngozi Paul and emerging stage director Jajube Mandiela are the new co-directors of b current which develops new works by diverse artists primarily rooted in the cultural, social and political experiences of the Canadian and international Black Diaspora through dramaturgy & workshop sessions, public readings and performances.
They are replacing founding artistic director ahdri zhina mandiela who is leaving the position after 22 years. The Jamaican-born, who is also a gifted dub poet, was the driving force behind several major theatre productions in the city, including a dub aria, who.knew. grannie, and Obeah Opera.
“We are both proud alumni of b current’s rAiz’n ensemble program,” said Paul and Mandiela in a joint statement. “b current has been such an important part of the evolution of so many Canadian artists and we are very honoured to be joining forces to lead it into a new era. We look forward to creating platforms and cultivating excellence in work that speaks to and serves our diverse community.”
Paul, the daughter of Pan-Africanist and Black Action Defence Committee co-founder Peter Paul, and Mandiela, whose mother is ahdri zhina mandiela, have excellent track records in the artistic community.
Part of the original team that created Canada’s first Black sitcom, Lord Have Mercy, Paul was nominated for two Gemini Awards. She’s also an original cast member of the 2005 theatrical production, Da Kink in My Hair, which is the first Canadian play to be produced at the Princess of Wales Theatre. The story was adapted into a television show on Global TV which surprisingly cancelled it after two seasons.
The founder of Ngozika Productions which showcase film and TV from an Afro-Canadian perspective, Paul appeared in the Genie-nominated film, Short Hymn, Silent War which received the Special Jury Prize at the Toronto International Film Festival and she was nominated for the British Black International Film Festival Best Actress Award for her powerful performance as Susan in the film, Banyan. She also received rave reviews for her portrayal of the young Nelson Mandela in the Toronto production of the screenplay, In the Freedom of Dreams; The Story of Nelson Mandela.
Best known for eight seasons playing Chantay Black on Much Music’s Degrassi, The Next Generation, Mandiela directed and co-produced All of Him at Summerworks and the Femfest festivals and Tick at the Toronto Fringe and Best of FringeKids.