THE City of Toronto has announced the appointment of Zaib Shaikh as Toronto’s new Film Commissioner and Director of Entertainment Industries.
Councillor Michael Thompson, Chair of the Economic Development and Culture Committee, made the announcement at an event at City Hall.
Born and raised in Toronto, Shaikh, who is of Pakistani descent, is a well-known actor, writer, director and producer. He is probably best known for his starring role as Imam Amaar Rashid on CBC’s international hit comedy Little Mosque on the Prairie.
“I congratulate Mr. Shaikh on his appointment,” said Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly. “His industry knowledge and his business skills will serve him very well in this strategically important role with the City of Toronto. I know that he will care for, grow and nurture the local industry that represents over a billion dollars in annual investment along with 25,000 jobs in this key economic sector.”
“On television, Zaib has portrayed a spiritual leader,” said Thompson. “Today, he assumes the real-life role of industry leader and champion. He will use his vast knowledge and experience to build upon Toronto’s legacy as a film and television hub, with a focus on engaging and expanding partnerships in our city’s evolving media and entertainment landscape.”
“Having spent the last 20 years in the business, whether on film, television or stage in Toronto and Canada, I’m honoured to join the City’s Film and Entertainment group,” said Shaikh. “Our plan is to make Toronto the number one city to produce, create and consume premium and internationally diverse film, television, music and digital media content. I also look forward to leading the City’s efforts to increase tourism and the positive impact of the many special events we do and could host.”
“The media entertainment industries are central to Toronto’s cultural vitality and economic strength,” said Mike Williams, General Manager of the Economic Development and Culture Division. “Zaib has the experience and he understands how to create excitement in these industries for Toronto and, in his new role, he will lead our efforts to grow Toronto as a top entertainment and tourism destination while opening up the global industry to the diversity and creativity of Torontonians and Canadians.”
STAR of CBC’s international hit comedy, Little Mosque on the Prairie, Zaib Shaikh has worked as an actor, writer, director and producer.
Most recently, he played Nadir Khan in Oscar-nominated director Deepa Mehta’s latest film, Midnight’s Children, adapted from the novel by Salman Rushdie.
For television, Shaikh co-produced the special Long Story Short: CBC Turns 75, hosted by Martin Short. Shaikh also co-wrote, directed and co-produced the Gemini Award winning Television film, Othello, the Tragedy of the Moor. His other television work includes lead or guest starring roles in Metropia, Murdoch Mysteries, Da Vinci’s City Hall and The Dead Zone.
Radio listeners may have heard Shaikh on CBC Radio One as a guest host for Jian Ghomeshi on Q and he has been featured in Afghanada.
Shaikh is also the founder of the production company, Governor Films.
Having begun his career in theatre, Shaikh has had the pleasure of working with some of the largest theatre companies in Canada including Canadian Stage, National Arts Centre, Globe Theatre, Grand Theatre and the Stratford Festival of Canada.
Shaikh co-founded and served as an Artistic Producer for the Whistler Theatre Festival WTP in BC, was one of the Producers for the Gemini Award nominated Little Mosque on the Prairie and received a Leo Award for his performance as Imam Amaar Rashid.
He has also served on juries and committees for the Gemini Awards, ACTRA Awards, Ontario Arts Council and Theatre Ontario Youth Theatre Program. Currently, Shaikh is a board member for the Canadian Centre for Diversity and the Institute for Canadian Citizenship. He also serves as an ambassador of CAMH and Amnesty International in Canada.
Most recently having delivered a keynote address at Harvard’s 375th Anniversary, he has also travelled across Canada and the world speaking on the power of arts and the media as a platform to greater understanding between Eastern and Western culture.
Shaikh is a graduate of the joint University of Toronto / Sheridan College Acting Program and he holds an MFA in Directing from the University of British Columbia.