The History of Got Your Back

In early 2017, GYB began in the safety and privacy of a living room.  It was originally an initiative of Thalia Gonzalez Kane and Martha Burns to create opportunities for people of different ages and levels of experience in the theatre and tv and film industries, to come together in person to support and learn from each other. 

By the end of 2017, as the MeToo movement opened up our industry for much-needed scrutiny, GYB held regular ‘ living rooms’  and connected younger artists with senior artists for advice and guidance.  Many people were given a chance to be heard in a safe place.  It was time to get and give strength to stand up for ourselves and each other. It was time to uphold and improve standards in our workplaces and training institutions. We helped each other connect with experts for clear guidelines if considering reporting harassment.

For 2018, a GYB core group was formed to address immediate needs. This team consisted of; Thalia Gonzalez Kane, Maev Beaty, Mikaela Davies, Briony Glassco, Marcia Johnson, Ruby Joy, Kristina Nicoll, Jennifer Wigmore and Martha Burns, with contributions from Chala Hunter and Kimwun Peherenic.

Maev Beaty, Mikaela Davies, Ruby Joy and Jennifer Wigmore worked closely with Canadian Actors Equity Association to make changes in policy and procedure so that artists could feel heard, supported and protected when reporting harassment. Briony Glassco led a working group to advocate for reviews of Arts Boards Governance. Discussion groups for women working toward leadership positions were led by Jackie Maxwell. Miriam Fernandes and Eva Barrie led a discussion on alternate leadership models in theatre.

In 2018 GYB encouraged progressive thinkers to run for Equity Council. Since elected, Jennifer Wigmore, Kristina Nicoll, Maev Beaty, Michaela Washburn, Val Planche and Donna Fletcher have been making change:-Addressing safe and respectful working conditions by improving the handling of harassment complaints. Bylaws and the entire disciplinary process have been updated.   

 -Examining Equity’s governance structure and policies to remove barriers to address the needs of a diverse membership.  

-Increasing communication between Council and the membership. 

Also in 2018, GYB focused on improving Acting Training in Canada and supporting skill-sharing and education amongst artists who teach. This initiative was led by Jennifer Wigmore and Sarah Robbins and Neil Silcox. This resulted in two platforms for students and artists who teach (sessional instructors) to be heard:

-2018 GYB National Acting Training Survey

-2019 Actors Education Conference

Please see the Acting Educators Conference page for ongoing information on this initiative.

The GYB core remains a flexible group.  For 2020, we are: Thalia Gonzalez Kane (on leave), Cynthia Jimenez Hicks, Ruby Joy, Marcia Johnson, Chantal Forde, Neil Silcox, Maev Beaty, Dasha Peregoudova, Jennifer Wigmore, Briony Glassco and Martha Burns