Mary Walsh may be one of the best-known faces to ever come from Newfoundland and Labrador.
Her abilities in comedy, television and film are renowned and this has led to her being named the Earle Grey Award winner for 2019 from the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television at its annual awards ceremony (called the Gemini Awards from 1986 to 2011 and the Canadian Screen Awards from 2013 to the present.)
Walsh will have the honour bestowed upon her on Sunday, March 31 during the Canadian Screen Awards, starting at 9:30 p.m. NT on CBC-TV.
“I am thrilled … and to be up for two additional awards on the night is tremendous,’’ Walsh said while making the media rounds in her hometown of St. John’s.
“I am also up for best actor (‘A Christmas Fury’) and best supporting actor (‘Little Dog’). It would be nice to take home three awards.’’
The Earle Grey Award is given to an actor in recognition of his or her body of work in television, or for their contribution to the international profile of Canadian television. It can be presented to an individual or a collaborative team. It is named after the first president of the Toronto ACTRA branch (not governor general Earl Grey).
“I am really happy with being named for the award, especially in this industry as an old person, let alone an old woman,’’ Walsh said.
“Television and film are now all about beautiful young people and the subject matters include heartbreak and romance. You don’t see old women. They disappeared off the face of the Earth.’’
Walsh said to be up for two additional awards and earning a lifetime achievement award proves to her things are changing.
She said a speech she heard by Glenn Close, who spoke “eloquently about being a woman and what her mother had told her about being an actress” and about a conversation Close had with Jane Fonda, who told her she is on her “third act,” helped to solidify her way of thinking about being a woman in show business.
Nominations were submitted by academy members to the special awards committee, whose choice of recipient must then be approved by the board of directors.
In May 2012, the academy merged the Gemini and Genie Awards into the Canadian Screen Awards, which were first held in 2013.
The 2018 winner was actor/director Clark Johnson.
Walsh is known for creating “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” and is a versatile actor who has appeared in both dramas and comedies, with credits including the award-winning sitcom “Hatching, Matching and Dispatching,” which she wrote and starred in.
She also appeared in the TV series “Sensitive Skin,” “Rookie Blue” and “Slasher,” and in such feature films as “Closet Monster” and “The Grand Seduction.”
She currently has several feature films in development and released her debut novel “Crying For the Moon” last year.
In 2017 the cast of “Hatching, Matching and Dispatching” reunited for a CBC-TV feature called “A Christmas Fury,” for which she wrote, produced and starred in.
Of all the things she has done, she said “Hatching, Matching and Dispatching” is her favourite.
“I didn’t watch ‘Codco’ or ‘22 Minutes.’ There were only seven episodes of ‘Hatching’ and I watched all of those, not for me, but for the rest of the cast,’’ Walsh said.
“I watched it for all of them. They are an outstanding cast.’’
Her performance in “A Christmas Fury” also earned her a Canadian Screen Award nomination this year.
In addition, her castmate Mark McKinney was nominated for best lead actor in a drama or limited series for his work in “A Christmas Fury.” Allan Hawco was nominated for best lead actor in a drama or limited series for “Caught.”
Jonny Harris, who also appeared in “Hatching, Matching and Dispatching,” was nominated for best host in a series for “Still Standing,” which also got a nod for best factual series.
Walsh’s comedy is rooted in East Coast humour, which she introduced to Canadians by putting the genre on the map using her humour to discuss Canadian and international political issues.
Her best-known character, Marg Delahunty, was made famous through the cornering of politicians, including Rob Ford and Stephen Harper, and conducting satirical interviews.
Walsh is a member of the Order of Canada and received a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement.
Outside of film and television, Walsh is an outspoken advocate for mental health and addiction awareness.