ACTRA is shining the spotlight on Jean Freeman, their 2014 Woman of the Year. Jean was born and raised in Weyburn, and recently was the keynote speaker during Tommy Douglas Day in Weyburn in October.
“After 47 gratifying and rewarding years as a member of ACTRA, this honour is definitely the high point of all we’ve been through together,” said Jean Freeman, who for six years played Helen Jensen, the mayor’s grandmother on the hit CTV series “Corner Gas”.
Freeman said that her award felt like, as her friends in Dog River might say, “like lightning in a bottle — or maybe a jam jar!” Jean was the first actor to join the Saskatchewan branch of ACTRA in 1967 and was named a life member of the union, as well as the Canadian Public Relations Society, the Regina Women’s Network and Regina Little Theatre.
She has received numerous honours, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Mayor’s Arts and Business Awards, Woman of Distinction from the Regina YWCA and Trimark Canadian Women’s Mentor Arts and Culture Award.
Jean co-authored “Fists Upon a Star: A Memoir of Love, Theatre and Escape From McCarthyism”, with the late theatre pioneer Florence Bean James, short-listed for a 2014 Saskatchewan Book Award. Most recently, Jean’s children’s book “Terror on Turtle Creek” was also short-listed for a Sask. Book Award.
“Jean Freeman is not only an accomplished actor, she is a writer, a communicator and a pioneer in the Saskatchewan film and television industry,” said Ferne Downey, national president of ACTRA. “When trouble came to Saskatchewan with the provincial government dismantling the film and television tax credit incentives, Jean fought back. We applaud Jean for the vision and strength she has provided to her union and the province’s whole entertainment industry.”
Jean is the fifth woman to be chosen “ACTRA Woman of the Year” for her artistic and advocacy achievements and joins past recipients Shirley Douglas, Tantoo Cardinal, Sandi Ross and Mary Walsh.
The mandate of the ACTRA National Women’s Committee includes exploring the concerns of female ACTRA members and supporting women within ACTRA and in the audiovisual industry as a whole.
ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is the national union of professional performers working in the English-language recorded media in Canada.
Each year ACTRA’s Women’s Committee bestows this honour on a woman who has shone both in her artistic and advocacy achievements.