Dan Levy and Stephan James might not be two names you usually see in the same sentence — unless you’re reading about extremely handsome Canadians? — but last night at the Canadian Screen Awards, the actors delivered moving speeches that are equally deserving of recognition.
Let’s start with Levy. His show, Schitt’s Creek, picked up two awards at Sunday’s broadcast gala presentation, including Best Lead Actress in a Comedy for Catherine O’Hara and one of the night’s top honours, Best Comedy Series. As the co-creator and star of the show, Dan Levy accepted the award flanked by the show’s cast and his father, fellow co-creator and star, Eugene Levy. Before handing the mic over to his dad, Levy shared the wonderfully hopeful mission of the show:
“In Schitt’s Creek we are writing a world that examines the transformational effects of love when the threat of hate and intolerance has been removed from the equation,” he said. “While that’s not a reality for many, our goal is to shine a light out there that asks the question, ‘What if it was?’ Wouldn’t we all be happier if we were able to love out loud?”
That message echoes the storylines in Schitt’s Creek, where Levy’s character David and his boyfriend Patrick are loving out loud every week in small town Ontario without the interference of bigotry, and with heart and humour, especially during stirring episodes like Patrick’s coming out, which was acclaimed by critics and fans alike. The show has announced that its forthcoming sixth season will be its last.
You could say that one of Schitt’s Creek’s goals is to inspire acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community and Levy is the leader of that commitment. If Beale Street Could Talk Star Stephan James is also taking on the role of inspiring a community. In James’s speech to accept his Canadian Screen Award — the first-ever Radius Award — he spoke directly to his Scarborough roots.
“When I think about the Radius award, an award given to honour a Canadian's contribution to the world stage, I can't help but to trace that journey right back here — more specifically, to my hometown, Scarborough,” he said. “It is a place that has taught me about pain, love, hardship, and perseverance. A place where we allowed our imaginations to run wild as children, where a night like this was all just a dream.”
The Canadian Screen Awards broadcast presentation was an uplifting night honouring artists of different backgrounds, but there were only a few Black entertainers nominated and James was the only one to accept a CSA during the TV gala. James ended his speech by addressing the next generation — maybe with the hope that his words might reach the next Stephan James.
“I want to dedicate this award to young black boys and girls across this country. Perhaps you're watching this now," he said. "I want to tell you that your craziest dreams, your wildest imaginations are all possible. No matter where you are, no matter where you come from. Scarborough to the world!"