Ismé Bennie

From:   Vereeniging, South Africa
ARRIVED:   1969


For someone who went on to become an influential figure in Canadian broadcasting, it is perhaps surprising to learn that Ismé Bennie grew up without television. Born in Vereeniging, South Africa in 1940, Ismé knew from a young age that she wanted to travel. After graduating from Wits University in 1960, she moved to London, England, which is where she saw television for the first time.

Although happy in London, Ismé decided to return to South Africa after two years, mostly as a result of her parents’ urging. While participating in the production of an American documentary about South Africa, she met a Canadian man who lived in the United States. In 1964, she moved to Los Angeles to be with him and eventually the two moved to New York, where they lived for five years.

Ismé’s partner eventually grew unhappy in New York and decided to return to Canada. At the time, many young men were making their way to Canada in order to dodge the draft. Ismé followed their guide about entering Canada. Upon arrival, she completed the questionnaire with flying colours and was allowed to stay.

Once in Canada, Ismé quickly put together an impressive resume, holding senior positions at CHUM and CTV. She has been honoured by the Canadian Film and Television Production Association with a Personal Achievement Award in 1990 and a Jack Chisholm Award in 1995. In 2003, Women in Film and Television – Toronto recognized her with an Outstanding Achievement Award.

In 2010, Ismé left CTV in order to focus on freelance writing. In 2015, she published a memoir of her childhood entitled White Schooldays: Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa.

Ismé Bennie with friend
Speaking at a conference
At the beaches
Jack Chisholm Award for Lifetime Contribution
Women in Film and Television Toronto Crystal Award
Ismé Bennie International Inc.
South African identity card
Celebration of Ismé Bennie
South African newspaper clipping
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