ELLA COOPER is an award winning cultural leader, producer, facilitator, photo-video artist, educator and programmer based in Toronto. She has been working in the arts and culture sector for over 19 years. Her creative work uses photography, film and visual arts to explore the diaspora, the creation of positive representations of the Black body in Canada, new representations of motherhood, arts for social change, community storytelling, contemporary dance and hybrid identities through multi-racial feminist lens.
She is also the founder of Black Women Film! Canada a new collective and leadership initiative supporting the development of Black women filmmakers that she created with support from TIFF, CBC, CFC, the Nia Centre for the Arts and 40 Black women filmmakers funded by numerous arts councils, donors and foundations.
Ella continues to design and facilitate transformative leadership, anti-oppression and arts empowerment programs for diverse communities, youth and not for profit organizations across Canada, the US, Europe, the Caribbean and South Africa. Ella holds a Masters of Education and has served as part time faculty at University of Toronto Scarborough. In addition, she continues to be a featured speaker and guest facilitator for national and international conferences.
In 2020, Ella received the Tiffany’s Hometown Hero Award and was recognized by Chatelaine Magazine as ‘30 Black Women Making Change Now’. In 2019, she was nominated for a Mayor’s Arts Cultural Leadership Award and in 2017 selected as one of Toronto Arts Council’s Cultural Leader Fellows.
In 2015, her documentary film debut ‘Black Men Loving’ won ‘Best Canadian Film’ at the International Caribbean Tales Film Festival, plus she received ‘Best Canadian Presentation’ award for her work in collaboration with Alison Duke and the Akua Benjamin Legacy Project series she directed with five other Black female directors, celebrating 50 year of Black activism in Toronto. In addition, her new short dance film documentary series ‘Dance for Life’ recently launched on Fibe TV1 and received honorable mention for ‘Best Dance Film Documentary’ at the San Francisco Dance Film Festival.
Ella’s work has been presented in galleries, public spaces and festivals in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Amsterdam and Berlin. She receives continued support from the Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council, as well as being a recipient of a City of Vancouver award and recent artist in residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts.