Announcing the YMA TAAFI John Rooney Creator Scholarship Winners for 2024

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Montreal, February 27, 2024 – The Youth Media Alliance (YMA) and Toronto Animation Arts Festival International (TAAFI) are delighted to announce the recipients of the John Rooney Creator Scholarships! The fund was established to honor the late John Rooney’s ardent support of LGBTQ2S+ talent in children, youth, and family animation, and has 2 streams of professional development: Content Development and Scriptwriting.

Content Development Stream

Awarded to an outstanding candidate to expedite their journey to becoming an established content creator, the winner of the Content Development Stream is Daniel Fernandes.

Daniel is an emerging Afro-Filipino writer and director based in Toronto. His journey began hosting and producing for TVOKids’ The Space and continued from producing at YTV to collaborating in writing rooms for kids’ tv shows. He has championed diversity in all his content including Pride and BIPOC campaigns and episodes, with the aim that every child feels welcomed and valued. Now that he masters the art of scriptwriting, this bursary will help him market his talent in our industry. Daniel cannot wait to expand his magically colorful storytelling toolbox to fill the gaps where voices are missing and spark his commitment to change that narrative.

Daniel will receive $5,000 (CAD) for mentorship from industry professionals for creative development, which can be spent on contracting professional resources for the creation of their concept and for travel and registration costs which will allow him to network at conferences that align with his career goals.


Scriptwriting Stream

Awarded to two emerging writers to attend a writing room for a show in production, the winners of the Scriptwriting Stream are Cindy Hu and Marc-Antoine Larche.

Cindy holds an MFA from the Columbia University Film Production Program (Creative Producing Concentrate) and has been the writer and producer of several creative projects including advertising, corporate videos, short films, and animated productions in Taiwan, China, the US, and Canada. Her main inspiration comes from the touching response the five-year-old niece of a friend had when she gave her a DVD copy of her own puppetry short The Lion Paradise as the child was going through the traumatizing experience of her parents’ divorce. Moving to Canada at the age of 17, Cindy is blessed with an outsider’s perspective, cultivating a perpetual yearning for a sense of belonging that resonates with so many immigrant children in Canada.

Marc-Antoine is a stage actor who graduated from the National School of Humor with a degree in television scriptwriting. He gained his experience as an author by writing for young people and teaching after-school drama in elementary and high school. In 2023 Zone3 optioned one of his youth projects co-directed with Anne-Hélène Prévost. Determined to chart his career path towards scriptwriting, Marc-Antoine has had the chance to meet several television professionals and to take part in the Pitch des Scénaristes 2023 co-presented by Netflix Canada and the Bells Fund in collaboration with SARTEC.

The laureates will be placed in a writing room for a show currently in production to gain an understanding of the script writing process, how stories are developed for series, and if possible, contribute to the room creatively. The Fund will cover a maximum of 10 working days, at $250 per day, for a total allocation of $2,500 per writer.


About John Rooney

John Rooney, the Executive Director at Toronto Animation Arts Festival International and a tireless supporter of animation and kids’ media, passed away in 2020.

Many remember John as a kind, smart, and exceptionally giving personality whose love of cartoons was infectious. He was also a passionate advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and a champion of LGBTQ2S+ representation in programming.

John was a friend to the Youth Media Alliance, most recently serving on the Advisory Committee and as Jury President for the Awards of Excellence. He was always looking to create bridges and access for marginalized voices. John was the quintessential caring connector, someone who always found time to support emerging talent because he understood that, for the future to brighten, new voices needed to be heard.


About the Youth Media Alliance

Youth Media Alliance (YMA) seeks to enrich the lives of Canadian children and teens by helping improve the quality of the content created for them on all screen-based media. The Alliance pursues its mission of encouraging high-quality content by presenting annual awards of excellence to the best productions targeting young English- and French-speaking Canadians. It offers ongoing training tailored to the special needs of youth production professionals through workshops, seminars, and special events such as the Children, Youth & Media and Média-Jeunes conferences. Since 2015, the Youth Media Alliance has developed four scholarships: the YMA Andra Sheffer, the YMA Thérèse-Pinho, the YMA Steven DeNure and the new John Rooney Creator Fund. YMA also conducts original research investigating the impact of screen-based media on young people. Finally, Youth Media Alliance advocates for the needs of Canada’s child and youth media consumers in matters of public policy.


About the Toronto Animation Arts Festival International (TAAFI)

Founded in 2012, the Toronto Animation Arts Festival International (TAAFI) is a not-for-profit arts organization whose mission is to make Toronto the premiere international destination for animated arts and entertainment. TAAFI hosts a film festival and a variety of recurring industry and public events throughout the year to create unique opportunities that connect animation artists and enthusiasts and transform the way people create and view animation of all forms.



Source: Margaux Soumoy, Youth Media Alliance,, 514-483-5417


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