Stage and screen star Shirley Douglas is calling on Canada and the CBC to do more to support home-grown talent.
The 78-year-old star was centre stage in Toronto on Saturday, accepting a lifetime achievement award from the Toronto branch of the actors’ union, the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists.
'I'm just fed up that we can't do better.' —Shirley Douglas
Douglas — best known for theatre and TV roles in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Stone Angel and the CBC series Wind at My Back — said Canadian performers need more recognition.
"There isn't a picture on a cover of a magazine in Canada by Canadians that has our people on it. And somebody has to change it unless they want everyone to leave," she said upon accepting the prize, which was presented by CBC’s Rick Mercer in recognition of her acting career and activism on issues including civil rights and public health care.
"I'm never leaving, I'm here. Too old to be leaving anyway," she added.
Douglas also took aim at CBC for not doing more to promote its talent.
"I just cannot believe that that company has not recognized that they need name recognition," said Douglas, remarking that a promotional poster for the series Heartland has, "miles of blue sky to write everyone's name on."
"I'm terribly, terribly sad and angry," she said. "I'm just fed up that we can't do better."
Other winners at the annual ACTRA gala included best actress Tatiana Maslany, who was recognized for her starring role in the indie coming-of-age feature Picture Day, and best actor Shawn Doyle, who co-stars in the dramatic film The Disappeared.
Shannon Kook-Chun was named best voice performer for the animated short Requiem for Romance.
Douglas was escorted to the annual awards gala by her son, Kiefer Sutherland, who divided his time between Canada and Hollywood during the early days of his career.
"I would come back and do plays, do theatre here," said Sutherland, whose father is acting legend Donald Sutherland. "I've loved coming back here to work over the course of my career."
Sutherland admitted he didn't get much advice from his mother on career direction but did say he consults her on how to approach specific roles.
"The calls she would get from me late at night would be: 'I've run into a scene and I have no idea what to do with it and what do you think about that?"' he said.
"Certainly between my mother and my father, the experience that they have in the situations that they've had to deal with in the course of their career, I'd be foolish not to try and learn from that."