2017 Recipient: Izad Etemadi

Best known for his portrayal of the charming, flamboyant, and bearded Persian woman, Leila, Izad’s work engages with questions of gender, sexuality, and migration. His solo show Love with Leila has toured across the country to packed houses and rave reviews. Offstage, Izad uses the character to host storytelling workshops for women in the community at venues like the Immigrant Women’s Centre and the Street Haven Women’s Shelter, showcasing their work at Leila’s Girlfriends exhibits. Leila appears next in a new cabaret, Leila Live!, at the 2018 Next Stage Festival.

Izad’s latest solo show, Kooni, a multimedia show exploring life as a gay man in Iran, premiered at the Rhubarb Festival in 2017 and went on to Halifax’s Queer Acts festival. We Are Not the Others, a community-research-informed commissioned by McMaster University’s School of Social Work, debuted at the Hamilton Fringe this summer, followed by an Ontario tour.

Award recipients are chosen by a panel of adjudicators comprised of the current and former Artistic Directors of the company: Evalyn Parry, Brendan Healy, David Oiye, Sarah Garton Stanley, and Sky Gilbert. The recipient will receive a $1,000 cash prize. This award was announced at a public ceremony on September 21, 2017 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.



Recipients for this award must:

  • Be nominated by an individual or group (nominators may not nominate more than one individual per year);
  • Be involved in professional arts community and work as a professional artist in the theatre and/or performance communities;
  • Be recognized as an emerging artist as evidenced by their body of work;*
  • Identify within the queer spectrum;**
  • Not have previously received this award.
  • Posthumous nominations will not be accepted.


  • The nominee fully meets the eligibility criteria.
  • The value and rigor of the nominee’s body of work.
  • The nominee demonstrates commitment to further developing their career.
  • Evidence that the nominee’s work enters into a conversation with broader ideas and aesthetics within queer culture.
  • The impact of the nominee’s work on the queer arts community.

*Note: Buddies will use the Canada Council for the Arts criteria to distinguish between emerging and mid-career artists (e.g. up to ten years professional experience).

**Note: For the purpose of this award, Buddies uses queer as a word to encompass the identities of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, two-spirited, or queer.


2016 – KATIE SLY