Dunsmore, Campbell win with ACTRA

The veterans beat out the kids Friday night at the 2009 ACTRA Awards, which began with a tribute to the retro years of Gordon Pinsent...

The veterans beat out the kids Friday night at the 2009 ACTRA Awards, which began with a tribute to the retro years of Gordon Pinsent, Bruno Gerussi, Jayne Eastwood, Mr. Dressup and Al Waxman.

Rosemary Dunsmore, best known for her star turns in Anne of Green Gables and Road to Avonlea, picked up the best actress trophy for her work in Alison Reid’s low-budget indie movie The Baby Formula. Nicholas Campbell earned the ACTRA Award for best male actor for his lead role in the TV movie The Englishman’s Boy.

‘Once I got over what I look like, I actually thought I was pretty good,’ an emotional Dunsmore told her fellow thesps of her performance as a mother whose lesbian daughter has a baby with her partner, and without a man.

Dunsmore added the word ‘resourcefulness’ kept coming up while she mused over her possible acceptance speech.

‘It’s resourcefulness that we actors have. It’s scary to some people. It’s why people sometimes try to keep us down. But they also love us and want us. It’s because we have this wonderful resourcefulness, which is our humanity,’ Dunsmore said.

Campbell, who beat out younger contenders like The Border‘s Jonas Chernick and 14-year-old Daniel J. Gordon of Nurse.Fighter.Boy, offered thanks to the cast and crew of the CBC TV movie, ‘and the miracle that is [director] John Smith.’

Other winners at the juried awards, which were hosted by Teresa Pavlinek, included veteran stunt performers John ‘Frenchie’ Berger, Bobby Hannah and Dwayne McLean, who were honored with the ACTRA Toronto Award for lifetime achievement in stunt specialties.

Also, veteran comic and voice actor Jamie Watson picked up the best voice trophy for his work on the animated series Peep and the Big Wide World.

Watson said his voice-over work on the series was inspired by the voices of Billy Van in the 1970s classic The Hilarious House of Frightenstein.

‘I listen to what other people have done in the past, and try to push it along,’ Watson told the ACTRA gathering.

Building on the guild’s accomplishments both on Canadian film and TV sets and at the bargaining table was a dominant theme at the awards.

‘As a small union, we did something that our big union in the States couldn’t achieve, and it’s tearing them apart,’ said Peter Keleghan, winner of the 2009 ACTRA Toronto Award of Excellence, in reference to the latest contract for Canadian actors, with a first-ever new media deal, that followed a 2008 strike.

The evening began with a montage of star performances in classic Canadian series and films like The Rowdyman, The Beachcombers, Black Christmas and SCTV.

Karl Pruner, who gave his final address as ACTRA Toronto president before handing over to Heather Allin, urged the rank and file to continue the ‘fight for Canadian drama.’