Toronto’s film industry, and to a greater extent Canada’s film industry, has flourished in recent years for various reasons, including high quality education and great contributions to Hollywood. It has rightfully earned its status as Hollywood North and one of the best film centers in the world in no small part due to the amazing technological advances and talent that the industry boasts. The Toronto film industry has surged in terms of the number of films it has produced, and many of its successes, some of them even making it to the global level, could not have been achieved without the help of the amazingly talented actors working in the industry. So without further ado, this is a compilation and a celebration of the male starlets who are rising up the ranks in the Hollywood North ladder and making strides worth watching out for!
#1: Stephan James
Stephan James, aged 25, is a graduate of the Jarvis Collegiate Institute and a Toronto native five years into his acting career. Despite his relative newness on the scene, James has an impressive number of roles and credits under his belt. He began his television career starring in a recurring role on the hit series Degrassi for two seasons before moving up to bigger things. He finally broke out with his major role in the Canadian feature film Home Again, which garnered attention in the form of a Canadian Screen Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the 1st Canadian Screen Awards. In 2015, he was also named as one of the Toronto International Film Festival’s Rising Stars. The following year he went on to win the Canadian Screen Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for his performance as Jesse Owens on the biopic Race. He’s even the male lead in If Beale Street Could Talk, one of the best films of 2018 and directed by Oscar-winning Moonlight’s very own Barry Jenkins.
The future looks to be bright for James, with him continuing to add more strong roles to his resume. He is definitely paving a path for fellow aspiring Black actors to find careers in the Toronto talent industry by putting the spotlight on the growing Black representation on film and television in Canada, adding to the film centre’s great diversity in its film productions.
#2. Tony Babcock
Tony Babcock was born in Scarborough, Ontario in 1998, and is now a 31-year-old award-winning actor with 15 years of acting experience in Toronto. He also runs his own acting training and production company, Improv Your Acting and he has made appearances on multiple productions, the most noteworthy being Extreme Actor on Fearless and Bell and IRL: The Series. He has also starred in animations like Beyblade: Shogun Steel and recently Bakugan: Battle Planet.
Babcock has the experience and credit to back up his talent, and he really could go anywhere with his career. Recently, he has been making a foray into LGBTQ+ roles, having made an appearance on an episode of OutTV’s Mom vs Matchmaker and currently in the process of producing a new LGBTQ+ high school web series titled It’s Complicated, which could mean a more definitive direction for his acting career moving forward.
#3. Connor Jessup
The next man to make it on our list is Toronto-born 24-year-old Connor Jessup. He’s made appearances on television shows including Falling Skies and American Crime, while also starring in the indie dramatic feature Blackbird as a troubled teen targeted by bullying. However, what brought him into the spotlight was his role in Stephen Dunn’s award-winning Closet Monster. The intense coming-of-age story about a teenager struggling to find his place in the world was also featured at TIFF. Recently, Jessup was also cast in a leading role on the upcoming Netflix series Locke and Key.
However, while the young actor has received praise for his acting career, he has expressed a greater interest in directing. As a budding director, Jessup has done work on the short Boy and more recently directed the documentary A.W. A Portrait of Apichatpong Weerasethakul and the video short Casey MQ: The Constant. In the future we’re likely to see Jessup continuing to balance being behind and in front of the camera in his coming production projects.
#4. Jaime Callica
Last but certainly not least, Jaime Callica was born in Toronto to a single Trinidadian mother of mixed Chinese, Spanish and Indian descent. His career, inspired by his love for performing and an idolization of Michael Jackson, has spanned a short six years, but he’s managed to make appearances on various renowned television shows and films, including the award-winning UnREAL, Memories of Christmas, and Wayward Pines, which was his first big break into the filming business.
Callica is now taking his career to the next level by moving to Los Angeles. He has recently starred in a recurring role on the newly premiered NBC series The InBetween, and it seems like his acting resume will only grow from there. He has gotten to where he is due to sheer persistence and hard work, and we’re excited to see where he takes his career next.