A silver lining to the current virus shutdown

By Stephen Weir

Michelle McLeod

If you are a budding actress or actor looking to be discovered, there may be a silver lining to the current virus shutdown. 

Toronto’s Monologue Slam has moved from the stage to the computer screen and organizers are finding that all of a sudden acting careers are getting launched.

For the past  nine years, Andre Newell and his cousin, Oluniké Adeliyi, have been staging Monologue Slams in clubs and halls in Toronto, Montreal and in Vancouver. Then  in March, with the virus shutdown in full force, the Monologue Slam had to make big changes in how it is run; those adjustments are proving to be popular.

“ Up to now our Monologue Slam has been an acting competition where actors perform on stage in front of a panel of experts and a live audience ” explained Newell.

“ The essence of the event is to give actors a space to play, let them work on their material and help build a stronger entertainment industry.”

In each club competition, the best up and coming actors get a three minute on-stage performance, using scripts of their choice to deliver the performance of their lives. Some choose scenes from movies; others from plays and television shows.

“So we had an event planned for March, but it was obvious we couldn’t do it with the distancing rules now in place,” he told The Caribbean Camera.

 “ So we thought, let’s try doing it on-line. As actors signed up to take part, we had them tape their monologue wherever they were, wearing whatever they wanted.  Normally we get about twelve  people to sign up to perform live on stage  at each Slam competition.  With the first virtual slam we got 350 people sending in tapes.”

The Slam is billed as North America’s largest acting showcase. It is run in the American Idol-style even where the actors are right in front of a panel of judges.

Now, on-line there isn’t that direct contact between the people on stage, the jury and the people in the cheap seats.

 With so many tapes to review, Adeliyi and Newell reached out to Canadian acting coaches to act as the judges and whittle down the first round numbers to the top 25 monologue submissions.

“From there we had six casting directors review the tapes and come back and give us the top four,” explained Newell.

 “ We announced the winners on Instagram. We knew right away from the online response that we have a winning formula.”

According to the organizers of the Slam, the big reason  so many talented people are taking part is  because of the virus shutdown. The casting directors aren’t working and have the time to look at the submissions. 

As Newell  noted , this is a once-in-lifetime opportunity for actors and actresses to be discovered by professionals who are usually too busy working on movies and shows to see what the new talent is all about.

The first on-line winner was actress, comedian and writer Michelle McLeod who submitted a monologue about what makes vampires so special.  You can see her submission on Instagram.


Their Instagram account is now the place to be for the acting community.  As they gear up for the April 26 online competition, new content, including submissions, is being posted every day.  Everyone is welcome sit in the casting director’s seat and judge Canada’s best slammers.