Judges

 

Bridget Ogundipe

Bridget Ogundipe obtained an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Drama Studies from the University of Toronto and an Acting Diploma from Sheridan College. She is a passionate and hardworking actress, dancer and educator, whose work can be seen across all mediums. Some of her professional work can be seen in the tv series, Heartland, Beauty and the Beast, October Faction and American Gods, where she plays the god of water, Yemoja.
Her passion for teaching and working with young people to inspire growth and success has empowered her to open an Acting School, Reel Talents T.O, whose mandate is to develop aspiring artists through building, exposing and supporting, while connecting them with a creative ecosystem of professionals, and accentuating the artists’ own uniqueness. This also led to her international not-for-profit which takes students from RTTO to Haiti to archive an artistic experience with the local community and develop a feature length film.

 

 

 

Celestine Caravaggio

Celestine Caravaggio is a Filipina-Canadian actress based in Toronto. She won Best Actress at Singkwento International Film Festival 2019 in Manila, Philippines for her role in the independent film, Pur Laine. She has been featured in several international movies, TV series, commercial and print ads. In her spare time, she is active in supporting various not-for-profit initiatives for special needs children and families.

 

 

 

Charlene Cook

Charlene Cook studied Theatre at York University and is a drama specialist with the Peel District School Board. She co-created the Freedom Writers drama program to give At Risk students the opportunity to express themselves through Theatre Arts. Charlene has been collaborating with young people and theatre professionals for the last 12 years to devise original theatre for young audiences in schools. Directing credits include Dear Grade 8 Grad, Flaky Lips, Crazytown, Selfie, Somewhere Nowhere, Drop Dead Juliet, and The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon. Most recently she directed her first online play titled Scenes from a Quarantine. Charlene is currently a full time drama teacher with the Peel District School Board.

 

 

 

Elena Dunkelman

Elana Dunkelman is a Toronto based film, tv and voice actor. Recent credits include The Bold Type (Freeform), Transplant (Sphere media/CTV/NBC) and the lead role in Immortals Fenyx Rising (Ubisoft Quebec). She is also the Canadian announcer voice for Subway Restaurants. Since Covid-19 she has been coaching actors virtually via her self tape studio “Sumach Studios”. She is always honoured to be entrusted with coaching and filming an actor’s performance for their auditions. Elana is thrilled to be back as a judge and is excited to see the supremely talented rising stars!

 

 

 

Eric Bizzarri

 

Eric Bizzarri is an award winning filmmaker based in Toronto, with a passion for exhibiting traumatic events through the experiences of young, Male protagonists and characters. Primarily interested in the nuances of human relationships, Eric’s work investigates toxic masculinity, male-male abuse, friendships and intimacy. His short films The Shallow End, Cold Hands and Pressure Play have been distributed by Amazon Prime (US, UK, Germany), Revry, think shorts and Super Channel, respectively. His latest film, I Wanna Make a Movie, or I Wanna Die Trying was a TIFF Next Wave 2021 Official Selection and will be making its broadcast premiere on CBC’s Canadian Reflections program.

He is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the Future of Film Showcase, a film festival based in Toronto fostering the future of emerging filmmakers. Eric is a graduate of York University with a Bachelors Degree of Fine Arts in Film Production with Honours.

 

 

 

Erica Daniels

Erica is Cree/Ojibway from Peguis First Nation. She is a proud mother, a multi-award winning documentary filmmaker and entrepenuer. She started her journey through a program called Just TV, a multimedia program for at risk youth in the inner City of Winnipeg. Through this program, Erica was able to better her life and gain extensive skills in the media industry. She is an alumni of the National Screen Institute’s New Indigenous Voices and IndigiDocs programs and won the first ever Indigenous Film Award at the 2019 Manito Ahbee Festival. Her most recent film has won 2 Golden Sheaf Awards and was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award and Banff World Media Festival Award in 2019. With over 10 years of experience, Erica established Kejic Productions in 2017 and became a full time entrepreneur fulfilling her passion to share the stories of her community. Erica’s connection to culture continuously inspires her work and motivation to share the knowledge of her elders for future generations.

 

 

 

George Absi

Pursuant to his long time love for the arts, George has been a professional dancer and choreographer for over 15 years. He has been training in all genres of dance – Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop, Tap and Contemporary.
He was born and raised in Ottawa, ON where he did most of his training which includes A.D.A.P.T and R.A.D.
He first landed a job working for Carnival Cruise Lines. shortly after that he danced for International Artist PSY, Deborah Cox, Kreesha Turner, Fefe Dobson, Aleesia and Classified, to name a few.
George performed and appeared on several television shows and commercials; he appeared on Once Upon A Time, Handmaid’s Tale, Shitt’s Creek, Breakfast Television, “Threads” a short film as a news anchor, and just recently appeared on PBS Kids, Let’s Go Luna as “Hakim” a principal role. He appeared in several national commercials.
He also performed in a world wide TV broadcast for The 2015 Pan Am Opening Ceremonies with Cirque Du Soleil and The 2015 Pan Am Closing Ceremonies both for 50,000 plus audience.
George is currently the Artistic Director and Choreographer of T.D.C Entertainment catering to main event functions and corporate events such as Illuminite, The Luminato Festival, The Teddy Bear Affair and The Bell Celebrity Gala.
In late 2016 George made his debut in the theatre with the musical Beauty And The Beast, in Halifax, NS. Soon after, George traveled to Kamloops, BC and Aquarius Theatre in Hamilton, ON to perform a role in Mamma Mia, where he also acted as Dance Captain and Assistant Choreographer. He also played the role of Jimmy and ensemble with the musical Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, Sleeping Beauty The Panto, the role of Buttons in the musical Newsies. This year he will play the role of one of the angels and dance captain for the regional premiere of the musical Kinky Boots with Drayton Entertainment.
You can catch George teaching drop in classes at various dance studios in the downtown Toronto area. George believes that with hard work and determination you can conquer anything in life.

 

 

 

Heather Dick

A vivacious performer, voice artist, director, writer and Designated Linklater Voice teacher, Heather brings energy, joy and a touch of humour to all that she does. She has performed in, directed or produced more than 80 shows and is a highly sought-after voice and acting coach. When not working on film, television, commercials or voice projects, she loves the live, moment-to-moment interaction that is an essential part of acting on the stage.
For over 30 years, Heather has coached and taught workshops in acting, comedy and voice for independent Toronto acting studios as well as Ryerson Polytechnic University, Brock University Dramatic Arts program, Theatre Ontario, the Sirius Theatrical Company, and Shakespeare By The Sea Festival (St. John’s, Newfoundland). From 2004 through 2016 she was an Artist Educator with the Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto) using theatre to teach science, math, social studies and history in Toronto schools through their Learning & Living Through the Arts (LTTA) programs.
In 1989 Heather founded the Sirius Theatrical Company (Toronto) and from the seed of a dream, she built the STC into a flourishing organization which, as a part of the Toronto theatre scene for 30 years, mentored emerging artists, offered professional voice and acting training, and produced critically acclaimed multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural performance pieces that integrated acting, dance, photography, music, visual art and spoken word. Heather and the STC were the recipients of several cultural grants to develop new works including: the Government of Canada Canadian Heritage 1812 Commemoration Fund (Forgotten Voices); the City of Toronto Cultural Hotspot Signature Partnership program (My Lakeshore, My Home); and the City of Toronto Culture Division – TO Live With Culture program (Tapestry of Dreams/Dreamweavers). In 2013, Heather and the STC were presented with the GEM of the LAKESHORE Award – Culture & Recreation for their work in “promoting arts and culture in the Lakeshore/Mimico community of Toronto”.
As a writer, Heather has been published in two anthologies and is the first place winner of the Joseph Smrdelj Short Story Contest in 2017 and the second place winner of the contest in 2020.

 

 

 

Alan Kinsella

Alan began his career as an actor and his debut was at the Abbey Theatre (The National Theatre of Ireland). His directorial debut was with Muted Cupid Theatre Company at Andrew’s Lane Theatre, Dublin, where he then directed French Company, 2B’s world premier of the musical Creatures. He went on to direct over one hundred productions in Ireland, notably Gary Duggan’s Dedalus Lounge and TransEuro Express and Spike Productions awarding winning production of Steven Berkoff’s Decadence. In 2009 Alan directed his first off Broadway show Lunch. In 2013 he moved to Canada and his Toronto debut was The Woman in Black at The Lower Ossington Theatre. Toronto credits include Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Beauty and the Beast, Hairspray, Joseph, The Little Mermaid, Legally Blonde, Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Anne of Green Gables, Newsies and Priscilla Queen of the Dessert at Lower Ossington Theatre, Al Green Theatre and The Randolph Theatre. His production of Mary Poppins won the Broadway World award for Best Musical in 2015. He also directed Blithe Spirit for the Watermark Theatre in P.E.I. Alan has written many family shows that have toured China, Jamaica, Qatar, Singapore, Oman and Sharjah. In 2017 he directed productions of Aladdin and Fame at the Madinat Theatre Dubai and he currently has four shows he wrote playing in Turks and Caicos.
He is the resident director with Toronto Youth Theatre where he recently directed the New Canadian musical One Small Step. Alan is artistic director of Markham theatre’s discovery program.

 

 

 

Janice Mendes

Janice is a Toronto based ACTRA member actor, seen in television commercials, movies, tv appearances and print work. She has a background in teaching and children’s counselling combined with 15+ years in the entertainment industry; both behind and in-front of the camera. Passionate about storytelling and expression through art; her current focus is writing and series development. As an active member of the BIPOC team at BellMedia, Janice is committed to continued growth, representation and inclusivity in the entertainment industry. She is thrilled to be rejoining the Nova Star team judges panel.

 

 

 

Marcus Le

Marcus is a Vietnamese Canadian Actor from Toronto, Ontario and fell in love with acting when he took his first drama class as an elective high school. Marcus was fortunate enough to be discovered by a casting director and started his career modelling and doing commercials.
Marcus has been on shows such as Designated survivor, Workin’ Moms, 12 Monkeys and recently landed a recurring role on the Netflix series ‘Spinning Out’
Marcus works full time as a realtor in the Greater Toronto Area in addition to working as a professional actor.
For leisure Marcus plays hockey, training martial arts and weight lifting at the gym

 

 

Marisa Rocha

Marisa Rocha studied Theatre, Kinesiology and Dance at York University.  She has been teaching drama and dance to high school students for 23 years.  Before becoming a teacher, Marisa was employed as a theatre and dance co-ordinator with the St. Jude’s Academy of the Arts Inclusive Arts Program. While there, she thoroughly enjoyed working collaboratively with differently abled teens and young adults in creating and performing various dance and drama pieces.  She was also involved in the Portuguese community’s traditional “Dancas do Carnaval” as a lead actress.  While teaching for the Dufferin Peel and Waterloo Catholic District School Boards, Marisa has directed, choreographed, produced, and written more shows than she can remember!  Some of her favourites to work on were Our Town, The Diary of Anne Frank, Juvie and The Passion Play.  She is also known to put on some pretty awesome dance shows!  She is very passionate about social justice issues and often uses the performing arts as a tool for teaching and spreading awareness. Marisa continued to perform while she was teaching full time by involving herself in community theatre. Some of her most memorable roles include the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, various animals in Animal Farm, Blue Fairy in Pinocchio and Honey in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

Recently, Marisa decided to reduce her teaching schedule to part-time which has allowed her to focus on the beginnings of her film and television career. It’s an exciting time in her life and she’s looking forward to what the future holds!

 

 

Michelle D’Alessandro Hatt

Michelle is an award-winning filmmaker, writer and actor based in Toronto.
Brave Little Army, her directorial debut, made with an all-female crew under her shingle, Black Lab Film Company, has been an official selection of over 30 festivals worldwide, including the Canadian Film Festival, Fantasia International Film Festival, and the Oscar-qualifying Bogota Short Film Festival. Brave Little Army won Best Short Film at Voce Spettacolo Film Festival (Matera, Italy), a Special Jury Mention at Festival Courts d’un Soir (Montreal, Canada), Jury Awards at Lady Filmmakers Festival (Los Angeles, USA) and Chinh India Kids Festival (New Delhi, India) respectively, as well as Best Young Performer (Lyla Elliott) at the Oxford International Short Film Festival. In 2020, Brave Little Army won a Nova Star Award for Best Ensemble.
Michelle’s plays have been produced at Summerworks Theatre Festival, the New Ideas Festival and Toronto Fringe Festival. She has been an invited member of the Tarragon Theatre Playwrights Unit, and was the recipient of a Theatre Ontario playwriting mentorship with the prolific Linda Griffiths.
As an actor, Michelle has appeared in numerous independent films that have screened at international festivals and on the Sundance Channel. She works regularly in voiceover and tv, and is currently the voice of Cadillac Canada.

 

 

Patricia McPherson

Balancing both Yoga instructor and Actor is not an easy act but Patricia loves the spontaneity and excitement both can bring.
As a full time Yoga and Meditation teacher in Toronto the privilege of being able to play in the magical world of acting is a gift! Patricia has been acting since she was in elementary school. She was always the lead of the play and shined in dramatic arts & speech arts.
Being able to still get in front of the camera for TV and film after all these years as a full Actra union member is a journey she’ll forever be grateful for. And the beauty is, Yoga and Meditation will always be the foundation and the inspiration behind all of the magic!

 

 

Patrick Orr

The Nova Star Award team is excited to welcome Patrick Orr to our panel judges. Patrick is a Toronto-based SAG-AFTRA actor who has appeared in films, music videos, print campaigns, and over a dozen US and Canadian national commercials. He hosted a competition dating show for OUTtv and has worked in film production, fashion, public relations, celebrity endorsement, and real estate. Born and raised in Washington State, he also lived in Los Angeles for thirteen years before moving to Toronto.

 

 

Rennata López

CEO/Executive Producer- Lopii Productions
(she/her) Rennata López is producer/director/casting director with over a decade of experience in television production. Rennata was nominated twice for a Canadian Screen Award in 2015 & 2016 and a Youth Media Alliance Award in 2019. In 2018 won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Education or Informational Series for her work on Giver (TVOkids). With her twin sister in 2018, she started Lopii Productions with the goal of making high quality, inclusive and diverse children’s television where every child can see themselves on T.V. They have produced two series for kids, My Home, My Life! (TVOkids) and My Stay-at-Home Diary (TVOkids/PBS) . Lopii Productions also created 2 shorts for Sesame Street.
Rennata is a mom to her adorable 8 year old daughter and a rabbit named Oreo.

 

 

Robinne Fanfair

I am excited to be returning as a Nova Star Judge( or you can do your company intro). Last year’s award nominees and winners were amazing and I can’t wait to see the new talented pool of scene stealers. Robinne Fanfair is a Toronto Actress with multiple film, television, voice, stage and commercials credits to her resume. Most recently the top voted Netflix family movie Feel the Beat, along with Global’s Private Eyes and CTV Cardinal. In her spare time this Auntie loves baking with her amazing nephew. @robinne.fanfair IG

 

 

Sarah Sheps

Sarah Sheps is Casting Director at Mann Casting. She is a proud member of the Casting Director’s Society of Canada and has been in the business for over 10 years. She is a graduate of Sheridan College’s Music Theatre program and spent time touring Canada, the US and Europe with many children’s shows including Strawberry Shortcake Live, Dora the Explorer and Franklin the Turtle. She is extremely passionate about Toronto’s talent and hopes to be casting them forever. Her greatest accomplishment to date is the birth of her sweet little boy Henry! Welcome Back Sarah! @shepssarah

 

 

Shadab Khan

Shadab began his professional journey as an assistant editor to renowned editor Mr. M.S. Shinde (‘Sholay’ fame). From there he became an assistant Director, gaining firsthand experience in the production and audio-visual medium from 1996 to 2000. His career then turned a new leaf when established himself as a highly successful model for leading national and international brands like Raymond, Gillete, Mach 3, Brylcreem, Reid and Taylor, Siyaram, Royal Challenge, Kingfisher, Denim soap and more, working with some of the topmost Indian and International ad film makers.
Shadab Khan made his acting debut as a lead actor in the Hindi film “THE UNSOUND’ in 2013 which is streaming on EROS NOW. He then took another leap by establishing himself as a writer-director of highly acclaimed hindi feature films as a writer /director ‘B.A.Pass 2’ (currently streaming on (NETFLIX) which was released in 2017 and ‘DELHI 47km’, which released in 2018. More recently he wrote and directed the Canadian film RABIA AND OLIVIA (english), which has already won 14 international awards and will soon be released globally. Stay tuned for several other projects he is currently working on!