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Mentorship pair Cherissa Richards and Zanifa Rasool took part in our Professional Mentorship Program in theatre entrepreneurship, acting and directing. Zanifa was able to shadow Cherissa while she was directing for The Winnipeg Jewish Theatre’s production of “Queens Girl in the World” and attend production meetings. Cherissa also coached Zanifa in monologue and audition prep and provided many networking opportunities with other theatre professionals working in the industry.

How was your experience in the mentorship program? Why do you think this mentorship was valuable to you?

“The work we did together, on the WJT show we worked on and the vast networking we did, was a fabulous peak behind the curtain for an emerging artist and the program was great for allowing that kind of partnership for Mentee and Mentor to thrive.” – Cherissa Richards

“I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now if it weren’t for this mentorship. It helped me and pushed me to become a stronger artist in my community and allowed me to step into the water with a helping hand.” – Zanifa Rasool

Cherissa Richards began directing after many years as a working actor. She started this journey directing The Power of Harriet T at MTYP in Winnipeg in 2015. Since then, Cherissa has assisted many incredible directors along her directing path at several regional theatres across the country and has pursued directing apprentice programs at Bard on the Beach, the Shaw Festival and the Stratford Festival.  Cherissa directed a double bill for the Neil Munroe Directing Project at the Shaw Festival; Lynn Nottage’s Poof and The Subjection of Kezia by Edith Ellis. In 2021, Cherissa directed the premier of CBC journalist Ismaila Alfa’s new play, VOICE at Prairie Theatre Exchange and Meet me at Dawn with Theatre By The River. This year, Cherissa completed a directing residency at The National Theatre School of Canada and she is one of the directing fellows in WhyNot Theatre’s This Gen Directing cohort 2021. Cherissa is the proud recipient of the 2021 Crow’s Theatre RBC Rising Star Emerging Director Award. Cherissa is looking forward to her upcoming directing residency at Crow’s Theatre this fall and will be directing Harlem Duet at Bard on the Beach in their 2022 season.

Zanifa Rasool is an emerging artist and finishing her last year at University. They are in the Devised Honours program and are ready to start their journey into the professional theatre world! This mentorship is a stepping stone of that journey. Building connections with other theatre artists is a wonderful opportunity and building relationships during this time is ultimately what helps us get through it. Zanifa is excited to get started on a lifelong dream and to have a lifelong mentor for her career in the arts!

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