Difference between revisions of "Shaista Latif"

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Shaista Latif

Shaista Latif is a queer Afghan-Canadian actress, dramaturge, playwright, director, and facilitator, who describes her work as an artist as being "about the margins, for the margins"[1].


Latif was born and raised in Scarborough, Ontario with her younger brother[2]. Her parents were avid activists and emigrated from Kabul, Afghanistan as refugees in 1987[3], whereupon her father became a cab driver and her mother attended beauty school[4]. Self-described as "self-taught and community educated"[5], Latif also received training in both New York and Toronto under artists Naomi Snieckus, Adam Wade, Melissa Petro, and Tracey Erin Smith. She attended the Human Resources and Accounting program at Humber College from 2006-2008, and George Brown College's Fundraising and Volunteer Management Certificate Program from 2011-2012[6].

In 2016, Latif moved from Toronto to Montreal as a result of housing rent hikes in the GTA, though continues to travel between cities for work[7].

Self-Portrait (Shaista Latif)

Previous Work

Shaista Latif’s work centers on politics, particularity politics of inclusion[8]. Latif’s work includes This Is the Life, where she played Ann (2009)[9]. She also wrote and performed in Graceful Rebellions which premiered at the Rhubarb Festival, and is about her experience identifying as a queer Afghan-Canadian woman[10][11]. The play was later published by Playwrights Canada Press in 2017[12][13].

She was the assistant director for The Wanderers (2014), and the dramaturge for Doomed (2016)[14]. In 2017 Latif was a mentor for Almeida (The Glorious) which explored relationships with ancestors and how names shape people[15].

She also created an autobiographical show titled The Archivist (2017)[16][17]. In 2017 Latif voiced Soraya in the animated film The Breadwinner, based on the novel by Deborah Ellis[18]. She also played the role of Karen in My Thesis Film: A Thesis Film by Erik Anderson (2018)[19]. Latif appeared on the Canadian Sketch Television show TallBoyz in 2019, where she played Meredith (episode “Clap your hands, everybody”)[20].

Other works include How I Learned to Serve Tea[21], a workshop on the politics of capacity and resource sharing, and Learning the Language of My Enemies[22], a two-channel video and sound installation that was commissioned by the Koffler Gallery. Her works have been presented by Why Not Theatre’s Riser Project, Rhubarb Festival, Halifax Queer Acts, SummerWorks, Koffler Gallery, Ontario Scene Festival, Art Gallery of Ontario, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Mercer Union, Blackwood Gallery, and Undercurrents Festival[23][24]. Latif has been the 2014-2015 Diaspora Dialogues playwright in residence[25], and was the artist in residence for Buddies in Bad Times Theatre[26] and the STO Union[27].

Awards and Nominations

Shaista Latif (Shy Alter)

Latif and the work she’s been a part of has been honoured with numerous awards. In 2016, Nadia Ross was awarded the Siminovitch Prize and named Sarah Conn and Shaista Latif as her protégés[28]. Ross selected Latif as a protégé due to Latif’s “fierce mind and outrageous humor,” hoping that Latif and Conn could always use their “mind and humour to the benefit of all” and to bring their “curiosity to the task.”[29]

The Siminovitch Prize is “for an artist whose career is perceived to be gaining significant momentum, rather than a lifetime achievement award.”[30]

The 2017 film Breadwinner in which Latif voiced character Soraya received an outstanding 20 award wins and 55 nominations. Awards include: [31]

  • 2018 ACTRA Awards: Outstanding Performance - Voice for Saara Chaudry
  • 2018 Alliance of Women Film Journalists: Best Animated Female for Saara Chaudry
  • 2018 Annecy International Animated Film Festival: Best Feature Film (both as a jury award and audience award) and Best Original Music for a Feature Film
  • 2018 Annie Awards: Best Animated Feature - Independent
  • 2018 Behind the Voice Actors Awards: Best Female Lead Vocal Performance in a Feature Film for Saara Chaudry
  • 2018 Canadian Screen Awards: Achievement in Music - Original Score, Achievement in Sound Editing, Achievement in Music - Original Song, Adapted Screenplay
  • 2018 Cinema for Peace Awards: Cinema for Peace Award for Justice
  • 2018 Emile Awards: European Film Award for Best Character Animation in a Feature Film, Best Background and Character Design in a Feature Film, Best Storyboard in a Feature Film
  • 2018 Monstra International Film Festival: Audience Award
  • 2018 TIFF Kids International Film Festival: Best Feature Film (Ages 11-13)
  • 2017 Leeds International Film Festival: Fanomenon Award
  • 2017 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards: Best Animation

To see an exhaustive list of all awards and nominations, visit Breadwinner’s IMDB page.

Shaista has also acted in My Thesis Film: A Thesis Film by Erik Anderson which has been awarded two prizes: [32]

  • 2019 Brussels International Independent Film Festival: Best Narrative Feature Film
  • 2018 Montréal World Film Festival: Best Film

Other projects featuring Latif such as comedy TV series Tall Boyz have received nominations[33], but all awards and the majority of popular acclaim was granted for Breadwinner and My Thesis Film: A Thesis Film by Erik Anderson.


1, 20, 21, 22 "Shaista Latif." Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, siminovitchprize.com/laureates/shaista-latif/
2 "This Is the Life." IMDb, IMDb.com, www.imdb.com/title/tt1683007/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_4
3, 5 Bhandari, Aparita. "'Graceful Rebellions' One-Woman Show Based on Experience as Queer Afghan Canadian." Thestar.com, 8 Aug. 2014, www.thestar.com/entertainment/stage/2014/08/08/graceful_rebellions_onewoman_show_based_on_experience_as_queer_afghan_canadian.html
4, 17 "Shaista Latif." Diaspora Dialogues, 8 Nov. 2020, diasporadialogues.com/mentee/shaista-latif/
6, 16 "Shaista Latif." Blackwood Gallery, Blackwoodgallery.com, https://www.blackwoodgallery.ca/graph/1frc69z1/people/shaista-latif
7 "Shaista Latif." The Toronto Theatre Database, ttdb.ca/people/shaista-latif/
8 "Almeida (The Glorious)." The Toronto Theatre Database, https://ttdb.ca/shows/almeida-the-glorious/
Toronto Theatre for Everyone., 6 Aug. 2017, www.mooneyontheatre.com/2017/08/06/the-archivist-shaista-latif-2017-summerworks-review/
10 Derry, Duncan. "Nominee Interview Series: Shaista Latif." My Entertainment World, 22 Mar. 2017, www.myentertainmentworld.ca/2017/03/shaista-latif/
11, 24 "The Breadwinner." IMDb, IMDb.com, 17 Nov. 2017, www.imdb.com/title/tt3901826/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_3
12, 25 "My Thesis Film: A Thesis Film by Erik Anderson." IMDb, IMDb.com, 28 Aug. 2018, www.imdb.com/title/tt9097864/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_2
13, 26 "TallBoyz." IMDb, IMDb.com, 17 Sept. 2019, www.imdb.com/title/tt10974808/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_1
14, 15, 19 "How I Learned to Serve Tea." WhyNot.Theatre, https://whynot.theatre/work/how-i-learned-to-serve-tea/
18 "BLINK: Storytelling with Shaista Latif and Alisha Stranges." Harbourfront Centre, www.harbourfrontcentre.com/whatson/today.cfm?id=7824&festival_id=216
23 "Eligibility." Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, https://siminovitchprize.com/the-prize/eligibility/