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From Nervous Beginnings to Inspiring Connections: My First Press Event at ACTRA Toronto's Asian Performers Showcase

I had the pleasure of attending the ACTRA Toronto's Asian Performers Showcase at the TIFF Lightbox on May 17, 2024. I was thrilled to attend this event as it was my first event attending as press. The talent that was showcased was incredible and the conversation was invaluable!

The event included a meet and greet with the performers and panel speakers, a live panel discussion with Actor/Writer/Producer Andrew Phung (Kim's Convenience, Run The Burbs), Actor/Writer/Producer Jasmeet Raina (Late Bloomer) and moderator Deanna Wong (executive director, Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival) and lastly, on the big screen, showcased 14 of ACTRA Toronto's Asian Performers. The event did not disappoint! 

I arrived fashionably late to the meet and great with the full intention of networking, hoping to find willing guests for my podcast and talk about the industry with some fellow peers. My first lesson of the day would come from a big insecurity and a new friend. As I looked around the room and realized I knew no one, panic set in. How on earth am I going to break the ice with everyone in this room? How do I approach a group of people and insert myself into their conversation? It's ridiculous that I came with the sole purpose of talking to people for my podcast and yet I find myself nervous and not sure of the first step.

As luck would have it, as I put down my camera and tripod to collect myself, the youngest actress of the showcase, at 11 years old, introduced herself to me with her father. We got to talking about networking and they asked about tips on how to make it easier, does it ever get less scary? Funny you should ask. I shared that I find it comforting that everyone feels the same way. Everyone is nervous, and most people hate the awkwardness and anxiousness that comes with networking. Always not quite sure what to say at first but once you break the ice and you're talking to someone you think to yourself "this isn't so bad" then you leave the conversation thinking "that was great!" it's only the build up to the introduction that's scary. The huge build up in your head about what could go wrong, "what if I embarrass myself, what if we run out of things to talk about and we just stare at each other awkwardly?" That may happen but odds are it's not life and death and you will survive. It takes practice, practice I clearly still need. It was the perfect first conversation of the day, couldn't of asked for a better first person to talk to. She also said she had a goal of introducing herself to 10 new people that day. Isn't that amazing? I love those goals that can be turned into games in your head. No one else needs to know what your goal is. No one needs to know if you reach it or not, the important thing is that you don't beat yourself up and you try. This young actress was braver than I was and should be very proud of herself. I am in awe of her and that was before I saw her on the big screen! 


I love when creators talk about the situations where things went wrong along the way. The finished product looks great, the marketing looks fantastic but as a creator I want to know the nitty gritty, the hurdles that had to be jumped in order to get to your finished product because there’s ALWAYS HURDLES. 



The live panel with Andrew Phung, Jasmeet Raina and moderator Deanna Wong, was an inspiring listen. The two guests gave great insight into what it’s like creating a show within the parameters of Studio/Network/ACTRA rules plus how they got around and pushed through the road blocks in their way. The two creators talked about their casting challenges, location challenges, music rights, the pressure they felt during production to represent their culture as authentically as possible and more.  

Here are a few of my favourite quotes & takeaways: 

“...I have like a lot of expectation to live up to and I have to like just do the best that I can..”   - Jasmeet Raina

“...In that moment I realized the pressure was off I can only be the best verision of myself and no one else.” - Andrew Phung 



Jasmeet spoke about the culture gap, and how some things that are normal in his everyday life are still not common knowledge to other people i.e. the process of wrapping a turban. He also spoke about his network issues to get the project made. Through that experience he added “I’m not going to make a show the way you want to make the show, I’m going to make show how I want to make it.” To add onto that Andrew said when he’s asked for advice he says  “start making your own work, start writing your own ideas.. The reason why we weren’t getting it right before is because we weren’t in control of our ideas.”

The last point I’m going to touch on was said by Jasmeet Raina, he had mentioned he “wished the show came out like in 2019 because that’s where his head was at then and now when the show came out as a creative I’m like, it feels like a past version of me.” This was something I didn’t know I needed to hear. As a podcast creator, I have anywhere from 6-10 episodes in my pocket so when my editor sends me an episode of my podcast it’s from 6-10 weeks ago. Now, spoiler alert, this is my first podcast, this is my first time hosting & interviewing, I recognize people go to school for these skills, I however, did not. Sometimes, (a lot of times) I go to the studio, I have a fantastic interview with someone, I feel like my skills are improving, I feel like I’m reducing the amount of times I say umm, or add or at the end of every question, I feel like I’m forming my questions better and then the next day I have to review an interview I conducted from 2 months ago and just cringe at the amount of times I say “uuhh” or “hmm” into the microphone (still working on that) and I am forced to look at past Alison interview skills. This is just weeks difference so I imagine having a project birthed years ago definitely feels like a life time ago and you look at your past self as a different artist. I was so happy that he shared that with us because as a fellow creator I found so much comfort in thinking, okay this isn’t just me, this is a creator thing. As creators we are constantly evolving and improving and looking back at previous work is a strange process, and for me, filled with thoughts of “wow I thought that was good?”  

After the panel the 14 performers were showcased on the big screen and WOW what incredible talent we have in this city!! You can check out the actors and their reels here: https://diversityshowcase.ca/asian-performer-showcase/ 



There’s so many other great moments from this panel, I encourage you to watch the full video here:https://performersmagazine.com/lets-talk-asian-representation/  and let me know what your biggest takeaways were! I’m so glad that I attended this event, and I hope when you get the chance to go to your next event you introduce yourself to at least one new person, you’re not afraid to ask questions and you learn something that can help your career. Thank you so much ACTRA for inviting me to this event, it was a pleasure! 

You can check out my podcast “Creative Full Time” where I interview Canadian creatives and find out how they’re doing the damn thing in Canada on Youtube & Spotify, be sure to subscribe to stay up to date with all my interviews. 

If you’re interested in being a guest on my podcast you can email me at creativefulltime@alisonmullings.com 

If you’re looking to promote yourself or someone you know, a performance, an event etc. please email all inquiries to media@alisonmullings.com 



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