Tyrone Benskin is a distinguished actor, director, activist and legislator whose contribution to the Montreal, Quebec and Canadian arts scene spans decades.
Tyrone Benskin has lived in Montreal since the age of nine. After immigrating to Canada from the United Kingdom, he was drawn to drama from a young age, inspired by the incredible career of pioneering cinematic icon Sidney Poitier and others. He aggressively acted upon this passion for the arts by pursuing advanced dramatic training in Montreal at both the CÉGEP and university levels.
He went on to win wide acclaim on the nation's grandest stages, including the Stratford Festival, Montréal's celebrated Centaur Theatre, and the National Arts Centre. His acting career would come to encompass more than 200 stage, film and television productions ranging from intimate stage productions to award-winning original Canadian TV series to Hollywood blockbusters including 300 and the Oscar-nominated biopic I'm Not There.
In 2005, he was appointed Artistic Director of Montreal's Black Theatre Workshop, the oldest black theatre company in Canada. An active member of the BTW family since his onstage debut there in a 1981 production of The Gingerbread Lady, Benskin was widely credited with leading the storied institution into an era of renewed prominence and sustained artistic excellence.
For 12 years, he served as National Vice President of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA), helping to strengthen the voice of Canada's artistic community and promote broader public understanding of the crucial contribution of cultural enterprises to Canada's economy and society.
Frustrated by creeping marginalization and politicization of the arts under Conservative rule and determined to address declining social and economic conditions faced by an embattled middle class in urban Montréal and across Canada, he sought and won the New Democratic Party's nomination in the diverse riding of Jeanne-Le Ber on 30 January 2011.
On 2 May 2011, he was decisively elected to Parliament and subsequently appointed by the Honourable Jack Layton as the Official Opposition Critic for Canadian Heritage.
On 19 April 2012, Canada's new Leader of the Opposition, Tom Mulcair, named him Deputy Critic for Official Languages.