Skip to content Skip to footer

Amanda Parris: For the Culture With Amanda Parris

Did you have a mission statement or guiding principle for this project?

I did create a bit of a mission statement, which was that I wanted us to end each episode not trying to answer any questions, but providing better questions than what we started with to help push the conversation forward.

The series does have a very experiential vibe, where it’s just about you meeting with people and soaking up perspectives, as opposed to “making a case” . . .

This is my first opportunity to do documentary-style television. And back in the day, I used to read a lot of Nancy Drew books when I was a kid. It felt like each interview was a breadcrumb to lead us to the next thing and to the next thing . . . I had an idea in my head of what each episode would be about when I pitched the show, but the discovery process was so much more fulfilling than anything I had envisioned. For the episodes where the trigger for it was more personal . . . for example, our education episode — I have a son who’s three years old and he has to go into the school system soon, so I’ve been thinking a lot about what that means, as somebody who used to do a lot of community work and organizing around alternative education and advocacy for students. Knowing how much this system is not really made for kids that look like my son, I was curious: “What should I do?” That became the trigger for the episode. We go on this journey and we speak to parents, we speak to students, we speak to educators — all of whom have been grappling with this question and trying to figure out their own way within these systems.

Amanda Parris in For the Culture With Amanda Parris on CBC Gem. Pictured: Amanda Parris.

The press materials for this show say that you “leave the wars raging on social media” behind for a more nuanced exploration. What role does social media play in the cultural conversation? Is it helping, hurting, inherently fraught?

I think it’s definitely “inherently fraught,” but that doesn’t mean it’s not a helpful space for igniting conversation. I love that possibility. Almost every single topic in this [series] came to me through something that was trending on social media . . . I just don’t think that the conversation should be limited to it. That’s when it gets dangerous. I think the same can be said for a lot of mainstream media as well. News stories are limited by the fact that they have to be immediate and urgent for our daily news cycle, so when you want to have a deeper dive, you need to go somewhere else for that in a lot of cases.

“Representation” in the media landscape is such a hot-button topic that’s really come to the fore lately, and you deal with it in this series. How much progress have we made on that front?

It still feels like opportunity is limited, it’s contained, and also that the doors we saw starting to open are starting to close again. There’s been a huge, huge onslaught of shows getting cancelled recently across the board — and a lot of those TV shows are by Black creators. We can talk about metrics and whatever — but you can see a trend happening where the “guilt phase,” I guess, is ending . . . And represention in front of the camera is one thing, but representation behind the camera, and then representation at the highest echelons in terms of “Who are the decision-makers of this industry?” still has a very, very, very long way to go.

For the Culture With Amanda Parris, streaming Tuesday, CBC Gem


Born in England but raised in Toronto, Ms. Parris is an award-winning host, writer and cultural commentator. She’s the emcee of CBC arts showcases Exhibitionists and The Filmmakers, in addition to writing digital comedy series Revenge of the Black Best Friend and stage play Other Side of the Game. In 2022, she won the Canadian Screen Awards’ first-ever Changemaker trophy for her efforts shining a light on systemic racism in the media.


In this new docuseries, Parris explores issues that impact the Black community, including the exploitative business of Black hair, Black CEOs who are set up to fail, and double standards of education and health care.

Leave a comment

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

Ritatis et quasi architecto beat

Whoops, you're not connected to Mailchimp. You need to enter a valid Mailchimp API key.