Reelworld Celebrates Asian Heritage Month

Asian Talent:

Taking up Space

May 27, 2019


Regent Park Lounge

Daniels Spectrum

What does it take to be a game changer as a POC in the TV & film industry?

On May 27, 2019, Reelworld Film Festival and BIPOC TV & Film co-presented a curated panel for Asian Heritage Month.


With an incredible turnout at Daniels Spectrum, the evening was filled with engaging discussions and opportunities to network. Through refreshingly personal anecdotes, the powerhouse panel, moderated by Romeo Candido, gave valuable insight on the importance of self-driven motivation, conquering the feeling of being small, making meaningful connections and working together to initiate change and take up space with Asian talent.


Meet the amazing panelists:

MÉlanie lê Phan

CBC Digital Production Executive

Mélanie has worked for CBC in both Scripted and Unscripted programming since 2013. She is currently an Executive in Charge of production for Scripted Digital Originals for CBC Gem. She has recently worked on The 410, Detention Adventure, True Dating Stories and How to Buy a Baby. Mélanie has also worjed on digital unscripted content, including the doc series Farm Crime and The Artists as well as several CBC Short Docs. Mélanie is a regular supporter of Reelworld Film Festival.

gabe grey


Gabe is a graduate of the Canadian Film Centre's Actors Conservatory and a recipient of REEL Canada's RBC Emerging Artists Award. His Film/TV credits include: Lucky 7 (ABC/Amblin TV), Bomb Girls (Reelz), Hellmington (Feature, Cineplex), Beeba Boys (Feature, Deepa Mehtal), Incorporated (SyFy), and Night Owl (SXSW Selection). His theatre credits include: After Wrestling (Factory Theatre), Shakespeare in Love (Citadel Theatre/Royal Manitoba Theatre Company), and Disgraced (Citadel Theatre). His upcoming projects include the feature film, Stelaing Vows, and the web series, Tokens. Gabe is a Reelworld Film Festival Alumni.

warren P. sonoda


Emmy-nominated filmmaker Warren P. Sonoda is known for directing his features Coopers' Camera, Swearnet: The Movie, Ham & Cheese, the iconic TV Shows Trailer Park Boys, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Murdoch Mysteries, Odd Squad and over 160 music videos, 63 episodes of TV and 11 feature films. He also received the Queen's Jubilee Medal for his contributions to Canadian cinema, knocked Martin Scorsese out of the Guinness Book of World Records, won Best Director at the 2017 Christian International Film Festival and was the first person of colour and youngest DGC member elected as the Directors Guild of Canada's National Directors Division Chair. He is also a champion of independent Canadian film as the Chair of the Canadian Film Fest and sat on the inaugural advisory board of Women in View x2 More. He is currently shooting POC-driven Utopia Falls for Hulu and his new Japanese-Canadian feature film Things I do For Money will be released in 2020. Warren was recognized as a Trailblazer during the 2009 Reelworld Film Festival; his film Unrivaled made its Canadian debut in the 2010 Festival.

Samantha wan

Actor, Filmmaker, Writer

Samantha is a Toronto-based actor and filmmaker. She is the co-creator and star of prime time comedy series, Second Jen on City TV. Samantha also plays "Zoe Chow" in Canada's hit series Private Eyes. She graduated from the National Theatre School of Canada in 2011. Her first project Sudden Master was commissioned by OMNI TV and accumulated numerous awards including "Best Action Series" at the Action on Film Festival and Vancouver Webfest. The AOF awarded her with the "Woman With A Vision" Award for her work as a producer and creator, and the award for "Best Female Action Performer of the Year." Samantha also won Best Actress in a Drama at the 2015 Hollyweb Festival for Sudden Master. She is a fourth generation martial artist, studying Wing Chun under Grand Master Sunny Tang. Coupled with her fight skills, Wan is a certified combatant for stage and screen with Fight Directors of Canada. Samantha is the recipient of the 2018 Reelworld Film Festival Trailblazer Award and an industry panelist. Her movie Second Jen was screened during the 2014 Reelworld Film Festival.

vivian lin

Writer, Producer, Director

Vivian is a writer, producer, and director. She has written on the television series Killjoys, Bajillionaires, Carter, and is currently on CityTV's Hudson and Rex. She directed the horror short And They Watched as part of the anthology Fun Size Horror volume 2, which is on Hulu and released on Alamo Drafthouse theatres. She is a partner at Midnight Print Studio, a commercial production company, but also a studio for dorks and nerds.

romeo candido

Writer, Director, Musician, Producer

Romeo is a writer, director, musician and producer. He is the senior producer for CBC Arts. He is the series director/producer of the CSA nominated half-hour comedy series Second Jen. He is a writer on the Netflix sci-fi drama Another Life starring Selma Blair and Katee Sackhoff. His musical Prison Dancer will be making its Canadian debut at the Citadel Theatre in 2020. His Filipino music Crew DATU can be found on all music streaming services. Romeo is the director of the film Ang Panama: The Inheritance, that was featured at the 2007 Reelworld Film Festival. 

"We talked about rice, chopsticks, thin and fat noodles, being awesome at math, bowing and other Asian things. Oh, also about taking space, telling our stories, and how much we can accomplish when we come together to change the centre."


"As a creator, once you become aware of your blind spots, it's up to you course correct."


"It's detrimental to the room if you have the answer and you don't say it." (on being in the writing room)


"You're never going to be 100% ready for anything; if I didn't have my community, I wouldn't have moved forward."


"As filmmakers of colour in Canada, as children of immigrants, we are Generation One here." (re: BIPOC creatives)


"Sometimes it just takes one person to take a chance and move the needle for you"


“The sooner we take leadership positions, the sooner [bias] will change."


"Thank you for having me on this amazing panel. Talk about imposter syndrome.. crazy talent and personal conversations."


"Loved hearing everyone speak. And met so many cool people! Thanks for organizing @BIPOCtvandfilm @reelworldfilm."


"Thank you to @BIPOCtvandfilm & @reelworldfilm for a fantastic panel and thank you to all the panelists for being so open and willing to share!!! #RepresentationMatters"


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