Case Study: You’re My Hero

image of a person in a wheelchair with text overlay that reads "created by Sean Towgood: You're my hero" and "(CBC) Gem: Premieres March 24 2023"

YOU’RE MY HERO is a seven part, fifteen minute series on CBC Gem created by and starring Sean Towgood, who plays the lead character, Ian. Ian, a blunt unfiltered 20-something with cerebral palsy, navigates the social pressures of life in an unforgiving world not designed for wheels.

The show’s budget was shot under Tier D New Media with ACTRA, WGC, and non union crew. They filmed 7-10 pages per day.

ACTRA spoke with the Producer of You’re My Hero, Meghan Hood, to learn about how they were able to successfully meet the accessibility needs of the cast despite their low budget. This webpage outlines the learnings from our conversation with Meghan.

Key Learnings:   

Overall, Production felt that this was less of a logistical lift than initially thought. The key to this was thinking ahead and anticipating potential challenges to allow sufficient time to find a solution. They recognized that it was the last-minute problems that would cost time and money, so did everything possible to avoid them. Consultation played a key factor in helping the Production plan to successfully meet the accessibility requirements of the cast. Out of the entire budget, accommodations accounted for under $10,000 (including furniture, additional location supplies, specialized vehicles, overnight accommodations etc) – or 1.2% of the total budget.  


Location Scouting: 

  • Sean, the creator has cerebral palsy. Production had to be shaped around this. Originally, it was assumed they would be shooting more on location, but when they realized how many accessibility challenges this would pose, they decided to look for a studio location instead. They built standing sets in Knoll Studios in Oakville, which was more practical as they could repurpose some of those sets in future.  
  • The building where the set was built was single level, had ramps, an accessible walkway, and many entrances. This would prove helpful for both cast using mobility devices, as well as for the camera/lighting/grip departments who would need to wheel in their gear. 
  • The production was thoughtful of what would be needed on set and prepared/built ahead rather than trying to retrofit a space without these considerations. 
  • Sean was included in the location scouting. He was able to point to issues like furniture being too low. Production bought inexpensive risers from Home Depot to be able to raise furniture as needed on set and kept extras on hand. This was a cheap solution that resulted in saving time later on for camera setups.  


  • Production was block shooting, meaning that Sean might be in 4 different outfits in one day. There was a conversation with Sean and the costume designer, and it was decided only his socks and shirt would be changed, to avoid the more time consuming process of changing his pants. This saved time and avoided a cumbersome and tiring process for Sean.  


  • Sean was instrumental in casting because he has ties to the community. 
  • Casting was done through self-tapes, with accommodations provided if required. 
  • As soon as cast was booked, production asked about any accommodations that may be required for performers. It was never assumed that everyone had the same level of access. 
  • There was one role where Production was seeking a performer who is hard of hearing or Deaf. When they were unable to find the right performer for this role though usual casting methods, they reached out to a local theatre company who featured performers from the Deaf community in the past, and permitted the performer.  


Call Sheets:  

  • Information was included on the call sheets to clearly communicate the expectations of the Production to the crew and practical information for all cast and crew. For example, the location of accessible washrooms, the need to keep pathways and entryways clear, designated accessible spaces in holding, etc. 

Location Safety:  

  • Production ensured hallways and pathways were always clear, as cluttered hallways are a fire hazard and pose barriers for folks using mobility devices. A crew member was assigned the job of checking after every set shift to ensure hallways and pathways remained clear and accessible. 
  • Cable mats were always used. Cables were taped down to ensure they were safely secured and would not be tripping hazards and could be easily wheeled over. 


  • Special care was taken to ensure that performers had the correct transportation access to set – i.e. are they able to travel in the standard transport van, or did they require specialized transportation?  
  • Sean required specialized transportation to ensure that his chair would fit in the vehicle in which he was travelling. His mother is an ACTRA member, and her vehicle was already fully outfitted to accommodate his needs. The Producer decided to cast his mother in the show as his PSW, and paid her a vehicle rental fee for transporting him to and from set.  
  • Despite falling within the 40km radius, transportation was arranged for all cast. There were two drivers on set with production vehicles, or Taxis/Ubers were reimbursed as required. This helped remove the barrier of performers needing to take public transit to set, as not all public transit is fully accessible, and the lengthy commute would add several hours to the day of each performer, tiring them out.  

Shooting Schedule: 

  • Shooting days were scheduled for 11+1 (instead of 12+ 1) to help avoid burn-out for both the cast and crew. Since Sean was scheduled for almost every single day of shooting, he was scheduled in a way so that he would be brought in as late as possible, and would be given as many breaks as they could.  
  • When there were performers on set that needed an accommodation regarding the length of hours worked in a day, production would ensure that the schedule was adjusted to prioritize these performers. 
  • Scene order would be adjusted to prioritize the well-being of the cast as opposed to what might normally be easier for the crew. For example, the crew might do an extra move so that Sean would not have to change his wardrobe twice. 
  • Representation: the show showed a PSW helping Ian, Sean’s character. 

Dressing Rooms: 

  • Due to Sean being scheduled for nearly every shoot day, he was provided with a dedicated dressing room (all other cast had private changing areas + holding). A double bed from Ikea was purchased by Production and placed in his dressing room so that he could rest in between scenes where he was not needed, to help avoid fatigue. The bed was stored after wrap for future Production use. 

Overnight Accommodations: 

  • Due to Sean being scheduled for nearly every shoot day, and living over an hour away from the shooting location, instead of having him commute to set every day, Production put him and his mother up at a nearby hotel that was fully wheelchair accessible.  

Update to all ACTRA members

We are concerned that misinformation being shared on social media could interfere with our ability to negotiate an end to the lockout and caution members to only rely on information that comes directly from ACTRA.

  • As noted on Wednesday April 26, ACTRA will resume in-person negotiations with the ACA May 2-5 in Toronto.
  • On April 10 we notified ACTRA members that Cossette signed a letter of continuance. That letter adheres to the terms of the 2017-2020 NCA, including Article 106, Extraordinary Circumstances (EC). Article 106 provides the ability, as needed to address commercials that require special consideration and is an organizing tool ACTRA has at its disposal to try to bring commercials under the ACTRA banner.
  • A few of you have been inquiring about ECs and what those mean. In a recent EC, ACTRA Toronto staff were able to bring a non-union commercial into our jurisdiction by providing non-precedent setting and a one time only, changes to the engager.
  • Extraordinary circumstance clauses help to promote a collaborative and cooperative relationship between ACTRA and an engager that was planning for months on using non-union performers. By allowing controlled and carefully considered flexibility in exceptional situations, ACTRA Toronto was able to work   to find solutions that will get members back to work sooner.
  • As we transition back to work and continue to organize non-union commercials, and as we welcome some agencies who have been shooting non-union back, we expect we may see additional EC requests that will be cautiously studied by staff.
  • We continue with our Boycott of Union Busting Brands. If you haven’t already, please add your name to the letter writing campaign.
  • Please like and share our posts and videos on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok.
  • There is an in-person info-picket in Toronto on April 29, 2023. We welcome any Toronto members who can attend. Register here:
  • When: Saturday April 29, 2023 – 11am-1pm
  • Where: in front of H&R Block at the St. Lawrence Market (5 Market Street)

ACTRA Praises Government for Referring Back CBC Licence Decision to CRTC for Reconsideration

TORONTO, ON (September 22, 2022) – ACTRA applauds Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez and the Government of Canada for listening to Canadian creators and referring back the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)/Radio Canada licence renewal decision (CRTC 2022-165) to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for reconsideration, via the following Order in Council.

“Thank you to the Government for standing up for Canadian performers, writers, directors, composers, producers and other creators by referring back this decision for reconsideration,” said ACTRA National President Eleanor Noble. “The health of our domestic audiovisual production sector can be attributed to the rules the CRTC has historically put in place to prioritize the creation of Canadian stories by and for Canadians. We are pleased the Government understood our concerns and has taken this important step to protect Canadian content.”

ACTRA and the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC) filed a joint petition to the Governor in Council in August 2022 with respect to Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2022-165. ACTRA and the DGC were among the many organizations (including 16 written petitions) concerned with the potentially long-term consequences of the 2022 CBC licence renewal decision on Canadian programming and the future livelihood of the creative and independent production community.

“The decision in its current form undermines both the mandate of the CBC and the Canadian broadcasting policy as set out in the Broadcasting Act,” added Noble. “Every step must continue to be taken to ensure long-standing policy principles and protections are in place to secure high levels of Canadian programming.”

About ACTRA:
ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is the national union of professional performers working in English-language recorded media in Canada. ACTRA represents the interests of over 28,000 members across the country – the foundation of Canada’s highly acclaimed professional performing community.


Media Contact:

Carol Taverner, Public Relations Officer, ACTRA National, tel: 416-644-1519, email:

Lockout of ACTRA performers by the ICA and it’s fifteen advertising agencies

For more than 60 years, ACTRA performers have made commercials through a collective agreement called the National Commercial Agreement (NCA). It’s a gold standard for gig workers, providing higher rates, retirement contributions, and a multi-employer benefit plan.

ACTRA wasn’t the only member of the NCA. Some ad agencies (the ICA) and companies that commissioned ads (the ACA) also belonged. But over a year ago, during bargaining to renew the contract, the ICA made proposals it knew ACTRA would never accept:

  • A 60% cut to rates.
  • No retirement contributions.
  • An end to the multi-employer benefit plan.

Exactly as concern was growing about how precarious gig workers were treated in other sectors, like lift providers or food delivery people, the ICA wanted to lower wages and eliminate benefits for gig performers. It also wanted to use ACTRA talent when it felt like it—and not when it didn’t. When it failed, it locked-out ACTRA performers so its agencies could make non-union commercials instead.

Fortunately, the ACA did not agree and agreed to a one-year extension of the NCA with ACTRA until June 2023. Dozens of agencies signed continuance agreements so they could continue to use the top talent only ACTRA performers can provide. And A2C, which represents agencies in Quebec, also joined the NCA—which remains very much in effect.

ACTRA, the ACA, and A2C is working to modernize and simplify the NCA. We’d welcome the ICA and its agencies to join us. And if they do, they won’t only be part of the modernization, they’ll again be able to access ACTRA performers to make commercials that get results.

We hope they do. Because there are consequences to following the ICA’s bad advice. ACTRA has filed a complaint of bargaining in bad faith at the Ontario Labour Relations Board. We’re taking action against agencies that have locked ACTRA performers out, filing more than 80 grievances. And we will continue to pressure them outside their offices, on-line, and in the media.

Our message to these agencies is clear. You cannot make proposals in bargaining that you know will never be accepted, then simply walk away from a collective agreement. That’s not how bargaining works. Issues within the industry should be dealt with through bargaining, and you can help modernize and simplify the NCA anytime.

And to ACTRA performers, your union will never stop fighting for the respect, rates, benefits, and retirement contributions you deserve.

Hair and Makeup Updates

ACTRA continues our efforts to have the industry recognize, acknowledge and eradicate the unequal provision of hair and makeup services to Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) performers on many of our sets.

If you would like to receive E-mail updates from ACTRA National about these efforts, please sign-up by completing the form below. 


Unfair Engagers (NCA)

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Hair and Makeup Bulletin

The Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA), the Association Québécoise de la Production Médiatique (AQPM) and the Alliance of the Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) are committed to safe and respectful worksites, and an industry free of discrimination.

In an effort to advance the above principles, when producers are providing hair and makeup services on set to Performers, and specifically when providing hair and makeup services to Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour Performers:

  • Where appropriate, and as early as reasonably practicable, the Hair and Makeup Heads of Department should seek to ensure their crew members are experienced in meeting the hair and makeup needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour Performers engaged on the production.
  • Where appropriate, Heads of Department should ensure, as early as reasonably practicable, that proper hair and makeup equipment and products necessary to meet the needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour Performers engaged on the production are available, for example, with respect to makeup shades, hair products, tools and other styling considerations.
  • Where the proper skillset, equipment or products necessary to meet the needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour Performers engaged on the production are not available on-set, producers should consult, as appropriate, with the Performer, Head of Department and/or the applicable union/guild with respect to accessing other qualified stylists and artists, or other alternate means of providing appropriate hair and makeup services to Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour Performers.
  • An open and constructive dialogue between all parties should be developed to ensure that the hair and makeup needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour Performers are included in the overall assessment of hair and makeup services, when hair and makeup services are being provided by the producer. Performers are encouraged to bring issues forward to the producer representative on set in the event hair and makeup needs are not being adequately met.
  • Producers are encouraged to make this bulletin available to Performers.

The CMPA, the AQPM and ACTRA will continue to work alongside other industry stakeholders to continue to advance the goals of equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging.

ACTRA members are encouraged to reach out to local branch representatives if they have any questions or concerns. Producers with any questions, please contact Samia Hussein, Director National Industrial Relations and Associate Counsel, CMPA at, 416-304-0281 or Geneviève Leduc, Avocate, Directrice des relations de travail et des affaires juridiques, AQPM,, 514-397-8600.

Click here to download and/or print the Hair and Makeup Bulletin.

Stay connected

graphic with text that says 'stay connected'As ACTRA continues to move more of its services online, voting on the ratification of collective agreements and constitutional referenda will soon be conducted exclusively online.

Why is this important?

Your participation matters. Have your say on issues of importance, such as the ratification of ACTRA’s collective agreements and constitutional referenda, which are conducted by online ballot only.

Help your union serve YOU better. If we don’t have your E-mail contact, you won’t be able to exercise your voice in ratification votes, constitutional referenda, or other union business.

What does this mean for ACTRA Members?

No further action is required from ACTRA Members who have an E-mail address on file with ACTRA. You will continue to have your say on the work of your union by receiving voting information, including your online ballot, by E-mail. If your E-mail address has changed, please ensure you provide ACTRA with your new contact information (see below).

Members who do not have an E-mail address on file with ACTRA will be notified by mail and asked to provide an E-mail address so they can continue to have their say on the work of their union. Under ACTRA’s Constitution and By-Laws, ACTRA Members have an obligation to maintain specific contact information, including their personal mailing address, telephone number and E-mail address, with their local Branch.

What do I do if I do not have an E-mail address on file with ACTRA or my E-mail address has changed?

Members may provide or update their E-mail address through one of the following options:

  1. Contact your local Branch; or
  2. Log-in to the ACTRA Membership System (AMS) and update your profile.

How do I create a free E-mail account?

Creating an E-mail account is simple and easy! In just a couple of steps, you can set-up an account with any of these available free E-mail services:

If you do not have Internet access, please contact your local public library or community centre to inquire about accessing computers with Internet access.

Who should I contact if I have a question or need assistance?

You can either contact your local Branch, or contact ACTRA National’s help desk between 9:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. ET Monday to Friday by phone (416-489-1311 x4037 or 1-800-387-3516 x4037) or E-mail (

ACTRA Member Census text broadcast error

As part of our efforts to ensure all ACTRA Members are aware of the Member Census, ACTRA engaged a third-party text broadcast company to send a single text reminder to our Members on August 16 about the Census.

As a result of a technical error by the third-party provider, some ACTRA Members received multiple text messages through a variety of phone numbers. We understand this must have been very disruptive for these Members. This was certainly unintended and we can confirm the text broadcast obviously did not go as planned. As soon as we became aware of the problem, we ceased the text broadcast so as not to further inconvenience Members.

We wanted to share an apology from the third-party provider as well as an explanation of what occurred:

“We sincerely apologize for the technical issue. There was an error in processing the messages where the messaging processor started looping back through the list to resend the same message multiple times to the same recipients.”

We would like to assure all ACTRA Members this occurrence is unacceptable and will not happen again. We would also like to confirm ACTRA’s database was not hacked and no Member data was compromised.