A message from the ACTRA Manitoba Women’s Committee

The United Nations celebrates International Women’s Day this year under the theme Invest in women: accelerate progress.  And this couldn’t be more appropriate. 

Over the years, we have seen women take massive strides in the fight for gender equality, but there remains much work to do.

The objectives of celebrating women is far reaching, and its meaning has evolved with its deep integration with the matters that are faced by the BIPOC, 2SLGBTQI+ and Indigenous Communities, as well as those of the women and women-identifying members who are 55+.

Gender equality has a very different face today than it did decades ago, although some of us unfortunately still find ourselves the subjects of sexism, unequal income arrangements, and reduced opportunities associated with gender.  Positive work is being done to combat these challenges and it is of utmost importance that those remain front and center in the years to come.

At ACTRA Manitoba, we have participated in this advocacy through engagement with the ACTRA National Women’s Committee, support for the use of intimacy coordinators on sets, training, the encouragement of dialogue and the perpetuation of ACTRA MB as a safe place for women within our community.  We have created alliances with organizations and programs like OurToba and the Supporting Women in Film Trades Conference to broaden our scope and reach.  We are a small but mighty community here in Manitoba, and it is that bond we share that is one of our greatest unique strengths.

At this time, it is important for our women and women-identifying members to not only feel seen and safe, but to feel empowered as well.  An objective of ACTRA Manitoba and its Women’s Committee for this, and the coming years, is to provide opportunities for our women and women-identifying members to create work opportunities, to share the many untold stories of women from all walks of life including our aging community, to come together and collaborate, and to ensure through advocacy and communication that the inequities of the past never resurface.

This year, ACTRA Manitoba is proud to announce that our 2024 ACTRA Manitoba Woman of the Year is a woman who, through her writing, has devoted her life to sharing unspoken stories that we can all relate to.  The stories of the 40+ year old, lonely, outcast women who became the exotic heroines of their own lives (Hersteria), the first female mayor of a major Canadian city who faced male opposition throughout her career and whose memoires revealed her special relationship with another woman (Molly’s Veil), and a woman at the end of her life who is losing her memory, her physical ability, and her will to live (Afterlight), among others. 

Our ACTRA Manitoba Woman of the Year is a past President of ACTRA Manitoba Council and has made an additional career as an intimacy coordinator, seeking to ensure that our members feel safe and that acts of intimacy on set are no longer a free-for-all.  She ensures that our members – both men and women – feel comfortable and have provided informed consent before engaging in on-screen acts of intimacy.

Sharon Bajer is the embodiment of empowerment for the women of our industry.  Her commitment is to make our work and our lives as individuals have meaning, hold value, and garner the respect of the film community at large.

We at ACTRA Manitoba are honoured to name Sharon Bajer as the 2024 ACTRA Manitoba Woman of the Year.  A formal presentation will be made at our AGM in the spring.  In the meantime, please join me in congratulating our fellow member and Manitoba trailblazer – a true institution in our Province and a beacon of hope for our women and women-identifying members.

Kalyn Bomback
Vice President and Chair of the Women’s Committee
ACTRA Manitoba