Canadian nonprofit the Youth Media Alliance (YMA) has picked Jadiel Dowlin (pictured, left) and Caitlin Aherne (pictured, right) as the winners of this year’s YMA Andra Sheffer Scholarship.
Aherne is the first recipient from Alberta for the award given to talented Canadian university students who are passionate about creating innovative content for children and pursuing a career in animated or live-action kids TV or digital media production.
The YMA selection committee chose her because she created a property educating kids about the importance of multiculturalism as part of Canada’s national identity, using rotoscoping (tracing live-action footage) animation techniques. Currently completing a Bachelor of Arts with a major in film studies at the University of Alberta, Aherne has also been active promoting the use of film as an educational resource in classrooms.
Meanwhile, Dowlin is a Ryerson University student and Writer’s Guild of Canada member. He has written several episodes of Sinking Ship Entertainment’s Dino Dana and has acted in a number of kids’ series, including Nickelodeon’s Star Falls and Amazon original series Annedroids, for which he received a Daytime Emmy nomination in 2016. He was also named one of Canada’s rising stars by the Hollywood Reporter in 2018. Dowlin is studying film and philosophy.
As part of the scholarship, the two winners will meet with industry and YMA representatives as well as visit the studios of Canadian broadcasters CBC and TVO. The YMA has also awarded the two recipients with a trip to Kidscreen Summit in February and Banff World Media Festival in June and a US$1,500 (CAD$2,000) travel grant.
YMA launched the scholarship in 2016 and since then has awarded six young creators (including Dowlin and Aherne) with access to industry events and mentorship opportunities. Last year, for example, the YMA named burgeoning screenwriters Julia Dillon-Davis and Nour Mallouh as the winners.
At the same time, the YMA has appointed three new board members to its board of directors. Télé-Québec’s director of youth and family programs Marysol Charbonneau is taking over as co-chair, replacing Judith Beauregard, the co-CEO of Tobo. Longtime Groupe Média TFO exec Nadine Dupont and the co-founder and owner of Little Engine Moving Pictures Maria Kennedy are also joining the board, replacing Guru Studio’s president Frank Falcone, whose term has ended.