Canadian actor Adrian Holmes at the Toronto Black Film Festival and his new series ‘Bel-Air’
The Toronto Black Film Festival has grown exponentially and this year celebrates its 10th anniversary with bigger and stronger online programming. Created by the Fabienne Colas Foundation, the festival commemorates this milestone with a record number of 200 films from 30 countries hosted online from February 16 to 21.
On Friday, TBFF will host a conversation with Welsh-Canadian actor Adrian Holmes, who has been a huge supporter of the festival and has been involved with it since its inception.
Speaking in an interview ahead of the event, Holmes highlighted the importance of this platform. “It’s so important that we have festivals so that we can showcase our art and our stories. It is important that we tell positive black stories, authentic, truthful and honest black stories, and the only way to do that is to do it ourselves. It must be by us, for us; in this way, it is grounded, it is real.
Although the festival has grown over the years, the Vancouver-born actor hopes to see it expand and grow across Canada. “We’re in Vancouver now, we have a black film festival that just started this year, which is a nice expansion, and so I just hope we can get into more cities.”
“There are so many talented producers, directors and actors in Toronto and across Canada who just aren’t on display,” the 47-year-old actor continued. “People don’t really know they exist, and I just hope they have a platform to really shine and show who they are and what they have to offer because there’s so much talent, but not everyone has the opportunity to be seen.”
The festival will pay tribute to the late Sidney Poitier by highlighting his contributions to the industry through a video compilation. Holmes was one of many people inspired by Poitiers.
“He was the one who made it all possible. He was the first African-American to win an Oscar and at that time it was unheard of. He fought through so much adversity to achieve success. He represents the strength and dedication, and he did it all with such integrity and class and dignity. That’s what I admire about Sidney Poitier. The way he makes me feel, and all the other boys and girls African American, Canadian feel, I wish I had a fraction of it just so I could have a piece of what he had, and give back and inspire others.”
The festival coincides with the launch of Holmes’ new series “Bel-Air,” a reimagining of the 1990s Will Smith sitcom “The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air.” Holmes plays Uncle Phil in the reboot.
“It’s a dream come true for me because that’s all I ever wanted, which was to be able to be on a stage big enough to really show what I’ve got and really distill what I’ve got. to the masses,” he said. “Not everyone has this opportunity and I hope, by God’s grace, it will be available to most of us.”
The Uncle Phil character was created by the late James Avery. “He left me such a blueprint that I could just tap into and find my identity,” Holmes said. I was in no way trying to recreate what he had done. I put myself in his shoes, but filling his shoes is impossible because he was genuine to him.
“Bel-Air,” which premiered Monday on Showcase, also has Smith’s stamp of approval.
Smith signed a book for Holmes and wrote, “To Adrian, I love the way you fill those shoes.” It gave Holmes the confidence to believe he was doing the right thing.
“When I met him, yeah, he said ‘You kill him, man’ and to look Will in the eye and have him say that is so amazing. It’s an out of body experience when you’re admired by one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. It’s really cool. It’s just damn awesome.