University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine
Summer 2004

Sharon Lewis

Playwright doesn't see art and politics as separate entities

How do you sum up Sharon Lewis? At 39, she’s already enjoyed success as an actor, novelist, activist, producer, director, playwright and television host. But as a child, she never liked speaking in front of a crowd. “I liked performing at home, but I was very shy,” she says.

Lewis (BA 1989 Innis) is best known as the host of ZeD, the late-night CBC-TV indie-culture show that features music, dance and spoken-word performances, interviews, short films and animation. Prior to that she hosted the current affairs show counterSpin.

Since her background was in the arts (she co-wrote and directed the play Sistahs and starred in Clement Virgo’s film Rude), some critics were skeptical about her ability to cover world events. But with a strong background in political theatre, she’s never seen the arts and politics as separate entities. “I’ve always used art to get a message out there, and it’s a fallacy if you try to say that art isn’t political,” she says. “Even the most innocuous film is a reflection of the society we live in.” 


Lewis proved to be a capable host, but now figures it may be time to move on. She became a mother in March, and she has plans for a new play, and TV and radio adaptations of Sistahs. Can that really be all? “I’d like to try urban policy development,” she says. “It’s a real challenge to develop quality housing for marginalized people.”

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