From the young age of eight, Mischa Barton exuded brilliance on the stage, garnering praise from critics and co-workers alike. Taking her talents to the big screen Mischa would make an impact in two classics, the Julia Roberts-led rom-com Notting Hill, and M. Night Shyamalan’s infamous thriller The Sixth Sense, just two of the many roles in her extensive catalogue of work.
Mischa would find her way into our homes and into our hearts with her perennial performance as Marissa Cooper in the hit Fox TV series, The O.C. You can see her next in the upcoming The Hills: New Beginnings.
A two-time Teen Choice award winner and Entertainment Weekly “It” Girl, Mischa is one of the most credible actors of her generation,. More recently, Mischa has focused her career on indie film, starring in over a dozen films in the last five years.
Maria Ricossa's professional life began in Chicago with The Second City. She then moved to Toronto, where she joined The Stratford Festival Company. In film & TV, Maria is known for her roles in The In-laws, where she played the wife of Albert Brooks, as well as Bojangles and The Space Between. She's had recurring roles in The Strain, Designated Survivor, Da Kink in my Hair & Missing. Maria was nominated for a 1982 Joseph Jefferson Award for Actress in a Principal Role in a Musical for "They're Playing Our Song" at the Marriott Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.
With her passion for acting, she teaches privately for film and TV and she has been on faculty at George Brown Theatre School, Armstrong Acting Studio, and University of Toronto Scarborough. She is currently teaching screen acting at Humber College.
An esteemed Canadian actor, Enrico is best known for portraying Elliot DiMauro in the sitcom Just Shoot Me!, Keith Mars on Veronica Mars, and Sergeant Greg Parker on Flashpoint. He has also had supporting roles in such films as The Wrong Guy, Galaxy Quest, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and Contagion, and guest appearances on Monk, Numb3rs, Party Down, Stargate SG-1 and Bones. More recently, he starred as Allen Conner in Remedy and played crime boss Carl Elias in a recurring role on Person of Interest. His most recent role is as Laura Hollis' father in season three of the online web series Carmilla. He guest-starred on Madam Secretary as Jim Fox, attorney for an arms smuggling suspect.
Enrico is a passionate artist and continues to support the indie film scene as an actor and producer.
William Baldwin has distinguished himself as an actor, producer, and writer who continues to showcase his multitude of talents in the world of film, television, and also music. Most recently, Baldwin has returned to primetime TV, starring in several hit shows and over 25 films of various genres. He appeared in the hit comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall and won an MTV Movie Award for “Most Desirable Male” for his work in the film Sliver. Other film credits include Backdraft, Virus, Fair Game, Three of Hearts, Flatliners, and Internal Affairs. He made his feature film debut in Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July.
Mr. Baldwin has set a leading example, which more successful industry professionals should be following, by supporting the next generation of filmmakers.
Michael Madsen is a Chicago-born actor, producer, director, writer and photographer. He’s also recognized as an accomplished poet. He entered the film industry in the early 80s and has appeared in more than 150 films, including Thelma & Louise, Reservoir Dogs, Free Willy, Donnie Brasco, Kill Bill and Sin City. At the end of 2015 he collaborated for the third time with director Quentin Tarantino on the highly anticipated film The Hateful Eight.
Although Michael’s impressive resumé has put him in the Hollywood spotlight, he still takes the time to work with independent filmmakers. Michael has shown that he is dedicated to the craft of filmmaking regardless of the project. He is a leading example of what talented and accomplished actors should be doing, which is supporting the next generation of filmmakers.
The first Independent Leadership Award was presented to up-and-coming actress, Fatima Ptacek. Fatima is known as the voice of "Dora the Explorer" but has recently taken part in a few independent films.
One notable project is the 2013 Oscar-winning short "Curfew", written and directed by Shawn Christensen, in which she plays the lead role. "Curfew" has since been adapted as a feature-length film entitled "Before I Disappear" and boasts an all-star cast (Ron Pearlman, Emmy Rossum, Paul Welsey) along with Ptacek and Christensen recurring in their original roles.
Fatima has shown strong leadership in the independent film circuit at the young age of thirteen. Vaughan Film Festival congratulates her on her success and wishes her the best in the years to come.