TikTok stars, MADE | NOUS ambassadors highlight 'overlooked' Canadian media you should be watching

Liz Duff and Haley Robinson educate and delight on social media with content about Canadian entertainment

MADE | NOUS ambassadors Liz Duff and Haley Robinson
MADE | NOUS ambassadors Liz Duff and Haley Robinson

On Canadian Screen Week, some of Canada's best on-screen talent is celebrated, from your favourite TV stars to impressive filmmakers. It all leads to the Canadian Screen Awards, airing Friday, May 31 at 8:00 p.m. ET on CBC.

In celebration of Canadian entertainment, the Canada Media Fund (CMF) has found a new way to educate about Canadian content. Meet the MADE | NOUS ambassadors who are making videos on social media, TikTok in particular, about all things Canadian entertainment.

For Liz Duff and Haley Robinson, they both found themselves on TikTok closer to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. That was the first step to creating content for MADE | NOUS.

Duff, also known as "Producer Liz" on social media, worked as a producer behind the camera in her career, but found she enjoyed putting herself in front of the camera on TikTok, beginning in 2020. Duff highlighted in an interview with Yahoo Canada that a lot of people have discovered Canadian media through her TikTok videos, which is something she's particularly proud of.

Robinson lost their job during around the same time, which began a journey of "reconnecting to [their] cultures," which they started sharing online. Robinson also has a background in musical theatre, so they threw in a few lip-sync videos as well and followed more theatrical TikTok trends. Things "exploded" from there, Robinson found a community of Indigenous, Filipino queer people. They started acting in commercials and doing voiceover work for TV, and that's when MADE reached out.

MADE | NOUS is really tapping into the impact of social media influencers to combat the stereotype that a lot of Canadians have been conditioned to believe, that our domestic TV and movie scene isn't robust or high quality. Essentially a lower budget version of U.S. entertainment.

"[I love] to be able to share some of my friends who are creators, and who are filmmakers, or who are in the industry, and just showcase Canadian media, because it's so overlooked in the whole media world," Robinson said.

"You might not think Canadian media, but when you look at what you're actually watching, there's a Canadian film star in it. It was filmed in Canada. It was made by Canadian crews. Directed by Canadian directors with Canadian writers behind it," Duff added. "There's so much that we feed into the media ecosystem that I think it's such a shame that more people don't know how much we contribute to this international landscape."

"I feel so lucky that I grew up in a media landscape where we had the MuchMusic VJs kind of guiding us and leading us, and shining that light onto what was happening. ... Bringing in international shows and ... finding Canadian connections and contextualizing it for Canadian audiences. ... To do a little bit of that work through social media and having a platform like MADE wanting to tell stories like that means a lot to me, because it made such an impact on me growing up."

For each MADE social media ambassador, the content differs in a way that feels authentic to them personally. For Robinson, representation is top of mind.

"Growing up I didn't see a lot of Indigenous people or Filipino people on the TV screen, and so I really love to share stories and TV shows and movies that have that representation," Robinson said.

"They also allow us to share about video games. ... I'm a big Twitch streamer. I love video games and I think it's so cool to be able to have my platform to be able to spotlight video games, because not a lot of people talk about that kind of stuff."

Duff also stressed that it's a "genuine" approach to the content they create, with room for each ambassador to pitch ideas.

In terms of their favourite experiences so far, Duff highlighted going to the Consul General of Los Angeles House during the week of the Emmys.

"A career out of body experience for me," she said.

Duff was particularly excited about speaking to Lamar Johnson during her time in California, who rose to international fame after being featured on the HBO series The Last of Us, and the award-winning film Brother.

"In my small corner of the internet, my people were so excited because they had followed Lamar's story with me, every beat of what had been happening for him," Duff said. "So that's the kind of thing that gets me really excited about this campaign."

Robinson conducted their first ever interview for the CBC series Allegiance, interviewing Enrico Colantoni and Supinder Wraith.

"I got to talk about things that I really cared about, like one episode ... about Indigenous children in the [justice system]," Robinson highlighted. "Enrico just really opened up and he told me he didn't know that any of this stuff was going on in these Indigenous communities."

"After that interview ended they got up, they gave me a hug, and they're like, 'That was one of the best interviews we had all day.' ... I'm just so thankful to be able to do something like that."

In terms of what these ambassadors have on their radar for Canadian content, Duff is a big fan of the original content on the independent streamer Dropout, particularly the show Very Important People, hosted by Canadian Vic Michaelis.

"That show is absolutely groundbreaking in terms of the improv comedy landscape," Duff highlighted. "What Vic Michaelis did with Very Important People is another huge sledgehammer into how we define comedic TV."

For Robinson, they're a huge fan of Andrew Phung, so Run The Burbs is at the top of their list for Canadians to watch.

"I actually was really lucky enough to audition for the show a couple times, didn't get on it, but maybe one day," Robinson said.