Born in London, England, descending from Grenadian and Venezuelan ancestry and raised on the south side of Jane Street in Toronto, Canada, Amanda Parris is a writer, actor, educator and host of Exhibitionists on CBC Television and Marvin’s Room on CBC Radio 2. She also writes a weekly column for CBC Arts.
Amanda is an accomplished actor and writer. Her theatre plays have been staged at festivals such as rock paper sistahz, The Piece of Mine Festival, The Festival of Original Theatre and the De Colores Festival and have been awarded grants and bursaries by The Michaelle Jean Foundation, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts. She recently completed a playwriting residency with Alameda Theatre for her one-woman play 32C, a script that originated when she was mentored by internationally acclaimed artist d’bi young. Amanda is the 2016 Playwright in Residence at Cahoots Theatre and is also a current participant of their Hot House Playwrights Unit for the second year in a row for her research-informed play Other Side of the Game.
As a theatre actor, Amanda’s credits include the 2015 workshop of I Cannot Lie to the Stars that Made Me, the 2014 and 2012 productions of Aneeemah’s Spot and the 2011 production of The Whores. She has studied acting with The Lee Strasberg Institute of Film and Theatre as well as Theatre Ontario, b current and York University.
Alongside her best friend Natasha Daniel, Amanda is the co-founder of the multi-award winning alternative education organization Lost Lyrics. They have co-created a number of programs within and outside of the school system based on a critical pedagogy that utilizes arts-based engagement and worked with thousands of young people across the world. Amanda currently sits as Co-Chair of the Lost Lyrics Board of Directors. Amanda also worked for a number of years first as the Outreach and Community Partnerships Coordinator and later as the Managing Director at the internationally renowned arts incubator The Remix Project. Her facilitation skills have led to hundreds of invitations to moderate panels and conduct workshops at schools, community centers, corporations and conferences around the world including the CBC Development Workshop Series for Diverse Content Creators and the Navig8 leadership program through the Dufferin-Catholic District School Board. Her curriculum work was published in 2014 in the book Rhymes to Re-Education, the first Hip Hop Education resource guide created by the Ontario Ministry of Education.
Recipient of the William Waters Scholarship and the Joseph Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship, in 2015, Amanda completed her M.A. Degree in Sociology of Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. After receiving the Michael Smith Foreign Study Bursary Amanda lived in New York City for six months conducting thesis research as a Visiting Scholar at New York University under the host supervision of Dr. Pedro Noguera. Her academic essay ‘Document it Before we Forget.’ A Conversation with African-Canadian Female Artists on the Canadian Black Arts Movement was published in 2015 in the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives Journal Our Schools/Our Selves. In 2015 she worked at Environics Research Institute on The Black Experience Project research study as the supervisor of field researchers, coordinator of social media and editor of The Black Experience Project Blog.
Amanda is the founder of the critically acclaimed multi-arts collective T-Dot Renaissance. In 2011, she brought together over 22 artists across a variety of mediums to produce the multi-arts installation Diasporic Journeys. Also in 2011, she was invited to be the Artistic Director of Wombmanifesto, the first ever celebration of women and trans people in Hip Hop culture at the Manifesto Festival. In 2015, Amanda helped to produce the Scratch and Mix Project an ancillary event for the Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time Exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). This project enabled 13 young Black visual artists from across Ontario to showcase their work for 4 months at the AGO. Currently Amanda is working on The Ride or Die Project, a multi-platform initiative that traverses the fields of theatre, fashion and blogging to produce creative content inspired by the stories of women who live by a ride-or-die philosophy.