Black History Month – Industry Pioneers
UBCP/ACTRA and the BIPOC Committee would like to celebrate Black History Month by recognizing our Industry Pioneers. Below are Members who have been instrumental figures in the BC Film & Television Industry and have helped pave the way for others.
Candus Churchill is honoured to be a 2020-21 inductee into The BC Entertainment Hall Of Fame Star Meritus.
She was born in Louisville, Kentucky and found her love of music early in life as her entire family played instruments or sang.
At the age of sixteen her family moved to the Washington, DC area, where she pursued her passion for singing. In 1980 she arrived in Vancouver, BC and branched out into acting in Theatre, Television, and Film.
Candus has amassed an impressive number of credits and was awarded Best Supporting Actress in Short Film by The World Music And Independent Film Festival for The Letter Carrier.
In 1991 Candus, along with Hall of Fame recipient, Marcus Mosely, created Vancouver’s first Contemporary Black Gospel Group, The Gospel Experience. Under Candus’ dedication and administration, they became a seminal force in the Vancouver gospel music scene for over two decades.
Candus supports an extensive list of BC and global charities, a history of service stretching many years.
Born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Mr. DeVeaux studied at the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute in New York City. Making his home in Vancouver, BC, DeVeaux appeared in films such as New Line’s THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, Paramount’s THE CORE and ALONG CAME A SPIDER, to name just a few.
He guest starred in dozens of television programs including ANDROMEDA, MYSTERIOUS WAYS, OUTER LIMITS and THE CHRIS ISAAC SHOW. DeVeaux was a Leo Award Winner for his work as a recurring guest star in the Dreamworks mini-series TAKEN. He was a Leo Award Nominee for his memorable recurring role in the CBC series DAVINCI’S INQUEST.
DeVeaux had great love for the stage. Some of the highlights include starring in the Off Broadway production of MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM and DREAM DEFERRED. In Detroit he starred in The Black Arts East production of 12 ANGRY MEN.
Nathanial DeVeaux died on December 19, 2020 in Poughkeepsie.
Lovie Eli was raised in Chicago, Ill.
In her early years she did synchronized swimming, studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, was a nurse’s aide and eventually became a dancer and singer.
Lovie performed at The Arts Club Theatre in Ain’t Misbehavin’, The Black And Gold Revue, Nunsense, Blues In The Night and appeared in many Film and TV Productions.She directed plays for Sepia Players, such as For Colored Girls, The Dream Continues, and directed and played Billy Holiday in Billies Song.
She sang sassy Jazz and R&B, then soulful Gospel in The St. Claire Singers, and The Gospel Experience.
Lovie was inducted into The BC Entertainment Hall Of Fame and has a star on The Walk of Fame for her countless performances in Ain’t Misbehavin’.
She was kind hearted and the love of her husband Rick Cowie’s life.
Lovie Eli was extraordinary and one of a kind.
BJ (Brenda Joyce) was born in Los Angeles, California.
The third of seven children, BJ’s early involvement in the arts was in music, and painting.
In 1976 BJ was approached to join the beauty team at The Salon of Beverly as a sculptured nail manicurist and as a result, she became exposed directly to “Hollywood”.
In the early 90’s BJ’s two daughters started working in film and television, and after some time of being a “stage Mom”, BJ was approached by one of the Casting Directors, and the rest is history!
BJ enrolled in a two year intensive program at Gastown Actors Studio and has continued honing her craft over the years through study/classes/workshops etc. BJ finds great joy in acting and now has an impressive resume.
As an empty nester, BJ has had the opportunity to return to her earlier love of painting. Some of the work can be seen at www.bjharrison.ca
I was born in the Southern US into a military family. My early years were spent in Germany and Massachusetts, eventually settling in New York. It was there that I was exposed to theatre and my passion for acting was born.
In 1971 I emigrated to Canada; and studied in the Ryerson Acting program; and the Drama Studies Program at York University.
In 1979 shortly after moving to Vancouver, I was hired by the Arts Club to play the role of Rheba (the maid) in “You Can’t Take it with You”. It was an African Canadian actor named David Collins (who played the butler) who persuaded me to audition for it the role, saying we could fight for changes to be made to the dated, stereotypical roles.
Following the Arts Club production, I went on to play “Lady in Blue” as part of the very successful Black Arts Theatre production of “For Colored Girls…” which ran in Vancouver at the City Stage Theatre in 1980 for six months; and a year later, I was cast in the principal role of Nurse Graham by director George Schaefer in the made for TV movie “A Piano for Mrs. Cimino” starring Bette Davis and Alexa Kenin which aired on CBS in 1982.
I feel very fortunate to have worked with a great number of wonderful professionals; and to have become a professional actor and full member of the union of UBCP/ACTRA. These days, I am looking forward to continuing to explore more roles in greater depth.
Catherine Lough Haggquist
Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, but raised early on in rural Alberta and Saskatchewan, Catherine Lough Haggquist was drawn to various creative mediums through her exposure to regional Canadian television and storytelling opportunities in school.
Cat got her first big break as a stand-in for Holly Robinson on the Vancouver-shot television series, 21 Jump Street. She studied with Alex Bruhanski and at Gastown Actors Studio, and began booking more work, starting with appearances on Vancouver-made TV mainstays like The Commish, Highlander, The X-Files, and Dark Angel. Cat added to her acting credits with lead roles on two Canadian series – The Unprofessionals and Rockpoint PD. And now, as actor with over 140 Film and TV credits on IMDb
Cat’s 30 plus year career in the entertainment industry includes work on stage, highlights of which are the multi-award winning The North Plan (Upintheair Theatre) and her work on and off stage with the Classic Chic Theatre Society.
Cat was an associate producer of Reel Women Seen, a short film initiative from the ACTRA National Women’s Committee, that won numerous awards including the 2018 Jury Choice Award at the Diversity in Cannes Short Film Showcase. Cat received the 2008 Women in Film and Television Vancouver’s Special Jury Award, was named as the Union of BC Performers 2013 International Women’s Day Honoree, was awarded Life Membership by UBCP in 2017 and in 2020 received the Lorena Gale Woman of Distinction award.
A native of Seattle, Washington, Blu Mankuma currently lives and works in Vancouver, BC.
He began his acting career on television’s “The Plutonium Incident” and “Letters from Frank.” From there he went on to earn a wide range credits including “Look Who’s Talking” “Another Stakeout” “Cadence.” “21 Jump Street,” The X-Files,” “MacGyver,” “Hustle vs Heartache” and “Volition” to name but a few.
Blu Mankuma is also a prolific theatre actor and an avid musician and singer, commanding a larger than life presence on set and on stage. A talented voice artist he is well known for his work in “Tigatron”, “Fluttershy”, and “Lord Mantel”. He became an internet celebrity in 2010 for his seminal work in “Sex Ed Video: Puberty,” a YouTube sensation from San Francisco to Columbus, Ohio.
Blu Mankuma received a Jessie Award for Outstanding Performance in a Musical for his role in the Arts Club Theatre Company production of “Ain’t Misbehavin’ “and he is the recipient of the UBCP/ACTRA Sam Payne Award. He is also a StarMeritus inductee in the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame for outstanding contribution to the performing arts in British Columbia.
No one was more surprised than Tom Pickett when his efforts to augment a fledgling singing career turned into a 30 year Actor’s journey. With no formal training other than scene study classes at Mel Tuck’s Gastown Actor’s Studio with Brent Stait, Tom’s first booking was for a now defunct tv show called Mom P. I. with Casting Director Stuart Akins. 5 days of filming, flown to L. A. to record a song for the show and getting representation by one of the top Talent Agent’s in Canada, Murray Gibson of RED Management (then with The Characters Talent Agency). With Murray’s support, over the past 30 years, Tom has enjoyed a Heart to Heart conversation with George C. Scott, listened to Martin Sheen recount the story of Amazing Grace one on one in a transport back to Circus and belted out Ain’t Too Proud To Beg and other Temptation’s classics with the late great Robin Williams on the set of License To Wed. Though the top 5 positions on the cast list for film and tv have eluded Tom there have been moments to treasure. When Katherine Hepburn said “they should put more light on you young man, that was very funny young man” Tom has humbly moved in that direction, though most of his limelight has come on the Live Theatre stage, portraying characters like Walt Whitman, Bob Cratchit and Andrew Young. Tom embraces his artisan/journeyman duties of the film and television actor with Reel passion.
When Alvin complained about the actions of the Executive Board to UBCP President John Juliani in the spring of 2000, John told him to run for the Board and do something about it. So Alvin did. For the next 18 years Alvin helped transform not only UBCP but also ACTRA National. When he stepped away from elected office UBCP/ACTRA (as it came to be known during Alvin’s leadership) was more unified and respected by its Membership locally than it had ever been, and had become recognized as an important voice for performers in recorded media within the union movement — nationally and internationally.