Jeffrey Vallis is a freelance writer and communications specialist living in Toronto.

Thoughts and reflections on my life and work.

Thoughts and reflections on my life and work.

Shameless plug for my radio production work

It’s Saturday, and you know what that means? The latest episode of Now or Never is out! OK, maybe that’s not the first thing that came to mind for you. But I’m especially excited about it this week because I had the privilege of contributing to the show!

Photo: Screen grab from CBC Radio

Photo: Screen grab from CBC Radio

If you don’t already know, Now or Never is a storytelling show about Canadians that are making things happen. It airs every Saturday on CBC Radio One at 3:00 p.m. and the podcast is also available online, or through your favourite podcast app.

This week’s episode is about creative ways black people in Canada are amplifying, challenging and sharing their own stories, and stories from their communities.

Spoiler alert: it’s a killer episode, with some really inspiring stories.

I worked on two of the stories as a freelance field producer: the intro segment about a private screening of Marvel’s Black Panther movie for 300 black kids in Toronto, and an interview with an artist who paints stunning portraits of black men.

Black Panther movie screening

Photo: IMDB

Photo: IMDB

The Black Panther assignment was a lot of fun to work on because the kids were thrilled to be there. And can you blame them? It was a private screening of the hottest film on the planet with free snacks, drinks, and prizes.

Listen to the full episode for clips from the screening and an interview with Andray Domise, one of the event organizers, about why the first black superhero and this screening are so significant for him and the kids attending. (Note: There are clips of the kids’ reactions at the end of the episode, too. So you have to stay tuned!)

Oh, and if you’re wondering, the film did not disappoint. It was one of the best superhero films I’ve seen, and pretty much everyone I spoke with felt the same. The Black Panther cast features some of the most talented (and in the case of Michael B Jordan, hot hot hot) actors who brought emotion, humour, and heart to this breakout superhero film. The cast includes Angela Bassett, Chadwick Boseman, Sterling K Brown, Martin Freeman, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Lupita Nyong’o, and Andy Serkis, to name-drop just a few!

Photo: Gordon Shadrach via Instagram

Photo: Gordon Shadrach via Instagram

Challenging stereotypes through art

I also had the pleasure of interviewing Toronto artist and elementary school teacher Gordon Shadrach. His portraits of black men challenge anyone looking at them to consider what stereotypes they might have about black men. I had a great time hanging out with Gordon in his Leslieville condo and learning all about his life and work. Listen to the story to hear for yourself.

I can’t say enough good things about this episode and this experience. So be sure to check out the stories, and let me know what you think!