HELPING CANADIAN TALENT ACHIEVE THEIR FULL POTENTIAL

Our Mission

Our Mission

EDA Foundation was founded by Mena Massoud, who plays the titular role in Disney's live-action film Aladdin.

With help from fellow-industry members and the local community, EDA hopes to inspire inclusivity and diversity in the arts and entertainment industry so that young ethnically diverse artists can gain access to the tools they need to jumpstart their careers.

Our Vision

Whether it be access to mentors, aid for training, or assistance with headshots or gallery fees, at EDA, we believe that providing these basic necessities can make a big difference in the lives of artists in their early days.

Mena struggled for many years before landing the role of Aladdin, and he would like to use his platform to assist other artists as they pursue careers in the industry.

Making A Difference

Donations from our website and future campaigns will go directly to the foundation, and from there, eligible artists can apply for assistance.

Join EDA Foundation as we strive to create, motivate, and inspire diversity in Canadian arts and entertainment!

A Message From Our Founder

All donations are greatly appreciated and will help bring ethnically diverse artists a step closer to reaching their goals.

If you donate $100 or more, you will receive a personalized video message from our founder, Mena Massoud!

Donate Today

*If you would like to receive a tax receipt for your donation, please send your request to support@edafoundation.com

Join the Movement

Subscribe to our mailing list to be notified of all exciting updates and developments.

Leadership

Meet the Team

Mena Massoud

Founder

Mena Massoud is an Egyptian-Canadian actor making his mark with distinct choices in film and television. Most recently, Mena has starred in the title role of the hugely successful Disney live-action reimagining of Aladdin, directed by Guy Ritchie. Up next, Mena stars in the feature film Run This Town, a Canadian political drama, which details the turbulent final year of the Rob Ford administration in Toronto. The film had its festival debut at the 2019 SXSW Festival. Currently, he is in production on the new Hulu drama series, Reprisal, which Warren Littlefield is producing with A+E studios, also starring Abigail Spencer and Rodrigo Santoro.

Outside of acting, Mena founded a company, Evolving Vegan, which aims to introduce people to plant-based living and help them evolve towards that lifestyle at their own pace. Through Evolving Vegan’s Instagram page and IGTV handle, Mena shares episodes in which he visits all the best Vegan restaurants in the United States and beyond. He also plans to publish a cookbook next year.

Ali Mashayekhi

Executive Director

Ali Mashayekhi is a Canadian producer who grew up in Toronto, Ontario. During his university years, he pursued his passion for writing, creating cartoons for the local student paper. This experience fostered a long held fascination with film and its industry. In order to create opportunities, he formed the independent production company Landed Entertainments in 2003; he has been at the helm ever since. He has produced several short films, many music videos, feature films and documentaries.

Jessie Van Leeve

Chair of the Board of Directors

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Jessie Van Leeve immigrated to Canada with her family during the early post-apartheid years. Her South African heritage is a testament to the visceral experience of ethnic ambiguity and cultural diversity. Since her formative years, Jessie has always had a passion for writing and humanitarianism – both vocations she has cultivated throughout her life. As a teenager, she mobilized her passion for social justice by implementing multiple successful fundraising campaigns on behalf of War Child Canada. She has spent hundreds of hours volunteering with school aged children on both the east and west coasts of Canada. Her benevolence and compassion extend far beyond simple acts of kindness, they are the principles by which she is guided. Jessie’s intuitive sense of community, as an invaluable aspect of society, comes as a result of her demonstrated ability to approach complex social issues with empathy and integrity.

A University of Toronto graduate, Jessie began working alongside Mena Massoud in 2019. She brings unbridled passion and enthusiasm to her role as Chair of the Board of Directors of EDA Foundation and is excited to participate in the important work of normalizing diversity in the entertainment industry.

Rouba Korkmaz

Board Member

Rouba started her life in Toronto at the very young age of 11. Born in Lebanon and having immigrated to Canada in the early 90s with her family, Rouba set out to accomplish whatever she put her mind to. She pursued her interest in the events and entertainment sector, where her tenure and expertise grew year over year. This year, she sat on the core planning team for the Toronto Middle Eastern Festival and True Patriot Love Foundation. In addition to starting her own Events Management Group, she was also one of the first three team members who established and launched ONQ Live Entertainment in 2015, an organization offering opportunities to diverse world class entertainers who come from around the globe but are based in Toronto. Her love for cultural diversity feeds her creative and is reflected in her work with ONQ Live, where she continues to act as a consultant and event manager. With so many projects on the go, Rouba remains active in her own community by volunteering at the 2019 Lebanese Film Festival. She is also excited to serve as a committee board member on Noujoum Inc., which focuses on Arabic Film, television and theatre production.

Rouba’s passion and determination can be credited to over 15 years of experience in the healthcare industry with Johnson and Johnson Inc. Her well-rounded experience brings a crucial balance of understanding in corporate, entertainment and fundraising to EDA Foundation. Rouba speaks three languages fluently: Arabic, French and English. Travelling with her husband is one of her favorite things to do.

Jonathan Keltz

Board Member

Having grown up in New York and Toronto, Jonathan knew he wanted to be in the entertainment industry from a young age. As an actor, he’s been working for over 15 years and is most known for his work in television on The CW’s Reign, HBO’s Entourage, CTV/Hulu’s Cardinal, USA Network’s Necessary Roughness and CBC’s Republic of Doyle. He also starred in Disney’s Prom and Relativity Media’s 21 & Over to name but a few film credits.

Jonathan has now shifted gears to generating content and has produced multiple short films including 5 Films About Technology. Written and directed by Peter Huang, it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016 and went on to be screened at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2017 and dozens of festivals worldwide. Acquainted, written and directed by Natty Zavitz, is the first feature Keltz has produced which made its festival debut in competition at the Whistler Film Festival 2018 and then went on to win Achievement In Filmmaking at Mammoth Film Festival 2019. It was also released theatrically in Canada and will be rolled out internationally in 2020.

Jonathan is eager to continue to do his part in promoting and evolving the Canadian independent film industry and believes EDA Foundation will be a great initiative to support Canadian artists trying to break into the industry. He’s thrilled to join EDA’s Board of Directors and to help turn their initiatives into action.

Larissa Mair

Board Member

Larissa has been involved in the arts on a myriad of levels for over 20 years. She has cast many feature films, television series, movies, documentaries, commercials, and musicals. Currently, she is the Canadian casting for Night Raiders (Elevation Pictures) and for Secret Society of Second Born Royals (Disney +) starring Andi Mack, Peyton Elizabeth Lee & Skylar Astin. Her new series Endlings (Hulu, CBC, NBC Universal Kids, BBC) and Ghostwriter will be airing in 2019.

Other notable credits include Milton’s Secret, starring Donald Sutherland, Raising Expectations starring Jason Priestly and Molly Ringwald, Odd Squad, which gathered more than 40 awards, Degrassi: Next Class Series, The Kingdom, Full Out, The Stanley Dynamic, Bruno and Boots, Open Heart and feature film Clara that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

A co-founder of “Theatre by the Bay” professional theatre company more than twenty years ago, Larissa is well versed on what it entails to be a working board member and looks forward to helping EDA with their mission. She has launched the career of many young artists and remains a passionate advocate of diversity on screen and in the arts and entertainment industry.

Alyssa Petru

Board Member

Manager of Much Studios and YouTube Strategy at Bell Media, Alyssa Petru has been at the forefront of the influencer business in Canada, and has worked within the music community at Much and MTV Canada, operating in Canada’s evolving media industry for more than six years.

Alyssa was one of three team members who would go on to help launch Much Studios, Bell Media’s multi-channel network in 2015, and continues her journey today building Bell Media’s influence through Creator-driven content. From launching original podcasts to web series’, supporting Creator integration in Bell Media initiatives, and developing YouTube strategy, Alyssa is excited to break through barriers and pave the way for new opportunities for young professionals and creators.

Elma Begovic

Board Member

Bosnian-born Elma Begovic is an actress, writer and producer. Due to a civil war in her home country, Begovic grew up in a refugee camp in Berlin, Germany. As a teenager, Elma and her family migrated to Canada, where she began her creative pursuits. An advocate for female focused films and projects celebrating underrepresented artists, Begovic started her own production company, Seek Refuge Productions. Elma splits her time between Los Angeles and Toronto, creating independent films and serving as a board member for the EDA Foundation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find answers to commonly asked questions. If you can’t find an answer, use a Contact form.

What is EDA’s mission?

EDA aims to provide focused support to young, ethnically diverse artists, empowering Canadian talent with the resources they need to break into the industry.

Who is this for?

EDA’s application process is open to all ethnically diverse artists (actors, musicians, visual artists, etc.)

What kind of support do we provide?

EDA will customize support to suit the needs of each artist in ways that will elevate their ability to showcase their talent in the arts and entertainment industry.

Depending on the individual’s needs, artists will receive support in the form of:

Access to mentorship offering valuable feedback from active members of the arts and entertainment industry. For example, workshops with casting directors, talent agents, managers, actors, music producers, photographers, etc.

AND/OR

Financial coverage for basic necessities. For example, assistance with professional headshots or photoshoot sessions, gallery rental fees, or recording studio sessions.

Who is eligible?

In addition to being a member of an underrepresented community, artists wishing to access support through EDA must meet all of the eligibility requirements below:

  • Must be Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents of Canada.
  • Must be between the ages of 18-35.

News

Why Seeing Yourself Represented on Screen
Is So Important

UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report reveals a few bright spots for women and minorities

The lack of diversity in Canadian media is ‘hard to ignore’ — and the numbers prove it

Ready to change lives?
Your gift will help bring ethnically diverse artists a step closer to reaching their goals.