ACTRA names Ferne Downey 2023 “Woman of the year”

Honour bestowed annually in celebration of International Women’s Day


 TORONTO (March 6, 2023) – Canadian performers are shining the spotlight on ACTRA member Ferne Downey by naming her this year’s ACTRA National Woman of the Year.

“As a union leader, a performer and an activist, Downey has been an inspiration and role model,” said Eleanor Noble, ACTRA National President. “For eight years she served as our trusted National President. One of her many responsibilities included chairing industry-wide round tables on sexual harassment and institutional change. She put our union on the international stage by serving as President of the International Federation of Actors (FIA). Downey raised the bar for women in our screen industry and she has been a tremendous force of change in the labour movement.”

A woman in black dress
Ferne Downey(Photo: Courtesy Twitter)

“Our union was built by many brilliant activists over the past 80 years,” said Downey upon learning she is being named ACTRA National Woman of the Year. “We have become a leading force in the entertainment world here at home and globally and we did it together – with conviction and synergy. It is one of the greatest joys of my life to play a part in our dynamic evolution as a progressive union. I am touched to have my contribution honored.”

Downey is the Past President of ACTRA National, finishing her unprecedented eight-year term in May 2017. From 2012 to 2021 she served as President of the International Federation of Actors (FIA). She was the first North American to lead the federation. Downey currently serves as Chair of the Board of Governors of AFBS and served as ACTRA’s representative on the Board since 2004.

Downey is a graduate of Dalhousie University’s Theatre Department and Harvard’s Trade Union Leadership program. She has spent the past 40 years working as an actor in television, film, radio and theatre. In June 2017, Downey received an honorary Doctor of Laws for her “exceptional service to the community” granted by Dalhousie University.

Since 2010, ACTRA bestows the National Woman of the Year Award each year upon an ACTRA member who uses her passion to support ACTRA members and women within the broader audiovisual industry. For a list of past recipients, please visit

About ACTRA:

ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is the national union of professional performers working in recorded media in Canada. ACTRA represents the interests of over 28,000 members across the country – the foundation of Canada’s highly acclaimed professional performing community.



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