The Union of BC Performers has announced that Jerry Wasserman, professor and head of UBC’s Dept. of Theatre and Film, is to receive this year’s Sam Payne Award, recognizing “humanity, artistic integrity and encouragement of new talent,” and actor, writer and producer Winston Reckert will receive the Sam Payne Lifetime Achievement Award.
Established in 1984, the Sam Payne Awards are presented annually in the following two categories to honour of one of Canada’s well loved and respected professional actors:
- The Sam Payne Award, which recognizes professional performers displaying humanity, artistic integrity and encouragement of new talent – all attributes that were often used to describe Sam Payne’s personal qualities and his contribution to Canadian theatre, film, radio and television;
- The Sam Payne Lifetime Achievement Award, which was started in 1995, to recognize a Union member’s accumulative outstanding body of work in the industry.
Jerry Wasserman, originally from New York City, started acting at college in the mid-60s. Moving to Vancouver in 1972 to teach English and later Theatre at UBC, Jerry became an integral part of Vancouver’s burgeoning professional theatre scene, performing on stage as well as in many American and Canadian film and television shows.
He is now a well-known theatre reviewer and sees part of that function as a responsibility to encourage and in some cases showcase new talent. In addition, Jerry is editor of Modern Canadian Plays, the anthology used in many Canadian theatre courses. In the 40 years that Jerry has been teaching, thousands of drama students have been influenced by his mentorship, tutelage and enthusiasm for the craft of acting.
Jerry also runs the popular website www.vancouverplays.com
Winston Reckert, born and raised in Vancouver, started his acting career when he was 12. His mother was involved in amateur theatre and when a play called “Amahl and the Night Visitors” needed a kid, Winston was recruited, and instantly became “hooked” on acting.
After high school he worked for a year in a logging camp and then took a year off to dedicate himself to acting, to see if it would work out. It did. He started getting work: stage productions and parts in The Beachcombers. In the early 70s Winston moved to Toronto in search of film work and ultimately started landing leading roles in US and Canadian productions, which generated three Canadian Film Awards Best Actor nominations and Best Actor Festival of Festival’s Critic’s Choice Award.
In the late 80s, Winston returned to Vancouver where his work included writing producing and appearing in the weekly television show, Neon Rider, which he says was one of the biggest rewards in his life.
Jerry and Winston will be presented with their awards at a ceremony on April 27