ACTRA names Rita Shelton Deverell 2018 ‘Woman of the Year’

Honour bestowed annually in celebration of International Women’s Day

Toronto, ON (March 6, 2018) — Canadian performers are shining the spotlight on Canadian artist, broadcaster and television producer/director Dr. Rita Shelton Deverell by naming her the 2018 ACTRA National Woman of the Year. ACTRA bestows this honour annually on an ACTRA member who excels in both her artistic and advocacy achievements.

“In addition to being a gifted artist, Rita is a trailblazer and role model who continues to inspire,” said ACTRA National President David Sparrow. “From her instructive performances to her pioneering work as a broadcaster, Rita has also shown a passion for social justice through her work on industry boards and councils in Canada. We’re proud to add ACTRA’s name to the list of the many organizations that have already recognized Rita for her outstanding contributions to her community and industry.”

“It is a totally energizing surprise to have this wonderful honour from my fellow Canadian media artists drop out of the sky, said Rita Shelton Deverell upon being named ACTRA Woman of the Year. “International Women’s Day marks a great moment for me, like ACTRA, to keep on keeping on, with relevant and delightful art, social justice, and equity for the under-represented.”

An ACTRA member since 1974, Deverell coordinated ACTRA’s earliest study on diversity, Equal Opportunities to Perform, in 1987, and served on the ACTRA Saskatchewan Branch Council and the National Executive in the 1970s and ‘80s.

A two-time Gemini award-winner, Deverell has received numerous other awards in recognition of her work and career achievements, including Women in Film & Television – Toronto’s (WIFT-T) Crystal Award in 1995 and the Black Women’s Civic Engagement Network Leadership Award in 2010. In 2005, Rita was named a member of the Order of Canada for her pioneering work in broadcasting, most notably for her founding of Vision TV and for mentoring her Aboriginal successor at APTN National News.

Rita has served on the boards of the Ontario Media Development Corporation, OCAD University, WIFT-T and Women in the Director’s Chair. She is also an active volunteer with both the Canadian Senior Artists Research Network and MediaSmarts and is a Trustee of the Royal Ontario Museum.

The ACTRA Woman of the Year Award is bestowed annually on an ACTRA member who uses her passion to support her fellow female ACTRA members and women within the audiovisual industry as a whole. Rita joins past recipients Shirley Douglas, Tantoo Cardinal, Sandi Ross, Mary Walsh, Jean Freeman, Amanda Tapping, Catherine Joell MacKinnon and Tina Keeper.

ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is the national union of professional performers working in the English-language recorded media in Canada. ACTRA represents the interests of over 23,000 members across the country – the foundation of Canada’s highly acclaimed professional performing community.


Media Contact: Carol Taverner, ACTRA Public Relations Officer, tel: 416-644-1519,

*Photo available upon request