Stage Door News

Stratford: Amaka Umeh and David Simmonds receive 2022 Harry Jerome Awards from the BBPA

Monday, May 2, 2022

The Stratford Festival joins the Black Business and Professionals Association in celebrating actor Amaka Umeh and Board member David Simmonds, who each received 2022 Harry Jerome Awards at the event on April 30, 2022.

Umeh, who is playing Hamlet at the Festival this season, is receiving the Harry Jerome President’s Award, which honours those who have made important and lasting contributions to the African-Canadian community as a whole. This prestigious award acknowledges not only merit and talent, but also a deep understanding of the needs of the community and how they can be met through innovative, wide-ranging approaches.

“I am deeply grateful to receive this honour and support from the BBPA on behalf of the formidable community of Black arts workers here in Canada,” says Umeh. “What we do is essential and I celebrate this award with pride. It is my hope that this recognition inspires Black artists to press on, contributing the labours of our minds and fruits of our souls to our abundant collective excellence.”

Simmonds is receiving the Harry Jerome Leadership Award, which recognizes those who inspire, motivate and lead by example. They have enacted positive change in the African-Canadian community through a commitment to excellence, empathetic leadership and effective communication. Awardees demonstrate a proven track record of leadership within their community or school.

“It’s an incredible honour to be named a 2022 Harry Jerome Award recipient. I am both proud of the progress made advancing diversity throughout my career and acutely aware more work is required to drive equity and inclusion that addresses the stubbornly persistent barriers in society,” says Simmonds.

“Equity is crucial to the viability of the arts and to vibrancy of our communities. I’ve been delighted to see the focus Executive Director Anita Gaffney and Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino have given to accelerating efforts to ensure that more and more people see the Festival as a place where everyone can have access to a full and vibrant creative life – this will be essential to the future of Stratford, our economy and democratic society. I look forward to continuing to support the Festival with this work.”

The Stratford Festival is committed to evolving its understanding of equity, inclusion and anti-racism, and to celebrating and giving platform to an array of voices. For more information about the important work that is underway, visit