August Schellenberg Award
We are excited to celebrate Indigenous achievement in film + media arts with generous support from our partners and individual donors. This award is presented to gifted Indigenous actors from across Turtle Island based on the longevity and impact of their careers, as well as their professionalism and involvement in mentorship and community work.
This award is supported by ACTRA National and individual donations.
2023 August Schellenberg Award of Excellence
The August Schellenberg Award of Excellence was launched in partnership with Joan Karasevich Schellenberg to honour her late husband, the legendary actor August (Augie) Schellenberg, and the spirit of his work. This award is presented to gifted Indigenous actors from across Turtle Island based on the longevity and impact of their careers, as well as their professionalism and involvement in mentorship and community work.
This award is supported by ACTRA Toronto and individual donations.
imagineNATIVE is honoured to present the 2023 August Schellenberg Award to Jennifer Podemski.
Jennifer Podemski is a director, writer, producer, and actor. Born and raised in Toronto, Jennifer makes her home in Barrie, Ontario. Of mixed Anishinaabe (First Nation) and Ashkenazi (Jewish) decent, Jennifer’s professional acting career began when she was 17. Her breakout role was as Sadie in Bruce McDonald’s iconic film, Dance Me Outside, a performance that garnered critical acclaim, solidifying her place in Canada’s film and television canon.
In 1999, Jennifer shifted her focus to producing as a way to address the lack of Indigenous representation in the film and television industry. She launched Big Soul Productions with Laura Milliken, Canada’s first Indigenous owned and operated, full-service film and television production and post production company. Big Soul Productions produced a variety of documentary television series, scripted short films, and the award-winning, multiseason, all Indigenous dramatic television series Moccasin Flats for Showcase Television and APTN.
In 2005, Jennifer branched out independently and has been creating, producing, writing, and directing content through her production company Redcloud Studios Inc. Her most recent credits include five seasons of the paranormal television series The Other Side (APTN), the award-winning feature film Empire of Dirt, and two seasons of the documentary series Future History (APTN) for which she received the 2020 Canadian Screen Award for Best Director, Factual.
Jennifer has maintained a successful career as an actor, with roles in Degrassi: The Next Generation, Republic of Doyle, Take This Waltz, Blackstone, Hard Rock Medical, and Cardinal. She is most proud of her starring role in her own film, Empire of Dirt, which was nominated for five Canadian Screen Awards in 2015 including Best Actress (Cara Gee), Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Podemski), Best Editing (Jorge Weisz), Best Film (Jennifer Podemski), and won for Best Screenplay making Shannon Masters the first Indigenous woman to receive this honour.
In 2020, Jennifer launched The Shine Network, a digital platform designed to amplify the voices of Indigenous women content creators and offer professional development opportunities to Indigenous women.
imagineNATIVE is honoured to present the 2022 August Schellenberg Award to Gary Farmer.
Gary Dale Farmer (born June 12, 1953) is an actor and musician whose career has spanned more than four decades. He is widely recognized as a pioneer in the development of First Nations media in Canada and is the founding director of the urban, Indian radio network Aboriginal Voices Radio Network. He has been nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards for Best Supporting Male.
Farmer was born in Ohsweken, Ontario, into the Cayuga Nation and the Wolf Clan of the Haudenosaunee/Iroquois Confederacy. He grew up in Buffalo where his father worked as a crane operator. Farmer attended Syracuse University and Toronto Metropolitan University where he studied photography and film production. Farmer’s first acting role was in On The Rim of a Curse, the 1976 play about the Beothuk. His first major television role was on CBC’s Spirit Bay (1984). He subsequently played police captain Joe Stonetree on the syndicated TV series Forever Knight (1992 – 1994) and Chief Tom in the CBC First Nations TV series The Rez (1996). Farmer is best known for his role as the spiritual, Native American guide Nobody in Dead Man (1995) directed by Jim Jarmusch. Farmer reprised the role for a cameo in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999), also directed by Jarmusch.
Recent credits include Resident Alien, as a series regular, for NBC Universal/Syfy Network, Reservation Dogs for FX/Hulu and the independent films Cowboys, Border House Reach, First Cow, Blood Quantum, and The Incredible 25th Year of Mitzi Bearclaw. Farmer is a long-time resident of Santa Fe, New Mexico.