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.”
A U of T lab is working with actors, writers and directors on how they could harness AI and other emerging technologies to generate new ideas and – just maybe – reinvent theatre