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      New web series celebrates ethnicity

      Aug. 8, 2014

      A new web series from Montreal writer and actress Michaela Di Cesare has got the famiglia talking. Sex & Ethnicity follows the life of Anna, played by Di Cesare, as she tries to juggle her Italian family, her new theatre job and her relationship with a non-ethnic commitment phobe. Along for the ride are her good friends Margi, Sun and Jenny.

      “The mainstream is so used to showing us the same upper class white girls. I thought, what if we show ethnic women?” explained Di Cesare.

      The idea behind Sex & Ethnicity came about after Di Cesare’s plans to turn her one-woman play, 8 Ways My Mother Was Conceived, into a feature film didn’t come to fruition.

      “When the film didn’t pan out I was bummed out. I was talking with actor friends about how there aren’t many roles for young ethnic women. So I decided to write something,” Di Cesare explains.

      By the fall of last year she had written ten episodes. But her director, Adrian Caleanu, suggested that might be a tad too bit ambitious. So they settled on eight episodes instead.

      “I called in every possible favor I could, we got some sponsorships and I invested some of my own money as well.”

      Di Cesare called on her local peers to act in the series. When it came to approaching veteran actors, Di Cesare was intimidated. But when it came to contacting them, they all said yes.

      Sex & Ethnicity

      The series stars an impressive list of local talent, some of whom are familiar to fans of Montreal theatre and film: Michaela Di Cesare, Sehar Bhojani, Stefanie Nakamura, Liana Montoro, Kim Nelson, Ellen David, Guido Grasso, Patricia Summersett, Chimwemwe Miller, Annie Yao, Russel Yuen, Jane Gilchrist, Gitanjali Jain, Natalie Tannous, Howard Rosenstein, Mike Payette, Adam Alberts, Daniel Esteban, Matt Lacas, Anne-Marie Saheb, Emilee Veluz, Elizabeth Neale, Patrizio Sanzari, Linda Tomassone, Grace Gordon, Aldo Lopez, Ezra Fama de Smit, Oliver Koomsatira, and Scott Humphrey.

      ICI, a new multilingual television station, happened to get wind of the series, and before long, Di Cesare and her director were formatting the series to fit a half-hour time slot. The series premiered on ICI and on YouTube simultaneously in June.

      “Season two is already in my head. It’s pretty much written in my head,” Di Cesare muses.

      “I wrote the series while all the Charter of Values debates were happening. This is my response to that. Assimilation is not the answer. I think we should embrace what makes us all unique. And that we have a voice – we young ethnic women have a voice and a place on mainstream television.”

      Watch the entire Sex & Ethnicity series at

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