Souha Usman is an active member of our Diversity & Inclusion Committee, a DGC Ontario training instructor, and a certified Life Coach, Breathwork Teacher and Racial Equity Facilitator. We chat with Souha about inspiring mindfulness and self-care within the industry.

As a DGC Ontario instructor teaching the Set PA Fundamentals course to incoming Members and for our xoTO workforce development outreach programming, what led you to pursue these teaching roles?

Instructing is an extension of the Assistant Director position. The AD department, on almost every level, requires a form of leadership and the ability to influence and guide. This is expressed from the 1st AD leading the crew through the shooting schedule to the Set PA facilitating cast wiring.

I feel that a leader can only be as strong as their team. A team that has knowledge of their craft, an environment in which they can explore their roles, and a supportive network is going to thrive. I am so grateful to have been mentored by amazing leaders and to be a part of AD teams that share and promote these values – it created opportunities to experience a lot of success in this industry. As an active instructor within the DGC and our outreach programs with xoTO, I get to pass the torch forward to the next generation and further encourage a standard of excellence within our department.

You’re an active member of DGC Ontario’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Through your work in the Committee, what lasting changes are you hoping to help implement for marginalized folks entering the industry?

Being a member of DGC Ontario’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee has been such a gift. It’s so empowering to be surrounded by a community of individuals who are passionate, intelligent, wise, and talented, who seek the expansion of our industry by opening doors for diverse creatives.

In these first two years since our committee’s inception, we held a very successful Town Hall for BIPOC Members and participated in course development for our Members. Recently, we also helped enhance mandatory training requirements within the organization.

One of our goals, which is close to my heart, is the expansion of community within our guild. I want to help create a place where marginalized Members and our allies can come together in a safe environment to express concerns, participate in dialogue, and actively seek resolution in a professional and respectable manner while building a supportive network based on trust and compassion.

Congratulations on your inclusion in BIPOC TV & Film’s Racial Equity Facilitator Training Program! What did you take away from that program, and what are you hoping to achieve in terms of promoting racial equity and inclusivity within the industry?

A fellow participant expanded my understanding of Racial Equity Facilitation by saying that it’s high time to stop being so agreeable when discussing our rights as filmmakers. We have a duty to be honest about the experiences of racialized workers. Many of us are actively jumping through hoops or putting in extra effort just to have a seat among our non-marginalized colleagues. These barriers further disenfranchise these Members, causing economic, physical and mental distress, a reluctance to report toxic workplace behaviour or environments, and a reduction of life expectancy and self-fulfilment.

A common challenge when promoting racial equity and inclusivity is the notion that our presence reduces job opportunities when it’s quite the opposite. Racial equity allows for diverse creatives to share their stories, generating more content and further expanding our industry.

Intersectionality plays a huge role as well. Illuminating the experiences of diverse Members creates a framework to develop policies and regulations that provide equity and opportunities for everyone. Our industry needs the education, the language, and the tools to overcome challenges at the source. It’s time to change the narrative that mandatory “training” is a punishment when instead, it is an act of “re-education” for the industry. Participating in the BIPOC TV and Film Racial Equity Facilitator training has gifted me with another supportive community of fellow filmmakers who seek to change this industry, along with a sense of empowerment and confidence.

You recently completed certifications in life coaching, breath work facilitation, and sound healing. How do you envision incorporating these healing systems into the industry to address issues such as burnout and stress?

This has been a life-changing experience that was triggered by burnout. I was working towards a career as an AD that would eventually lead me to be a Production Manager/Producer, but I found myself falling out of love and losing that spark. It seems that the Universe had other career plans in store, where I have found a sense of rebirth through life coaching, breath work, sound healing, and launching my new business, Grey Eyed Soul Coaching.

I have been developing a self-care course for industry workers. When I was on the “daily train,” my tips and tricks worked. However, I recently did a show where the demands of the production meant I could barely keep up with any self-care. I stopped doing my morning breath work meditation, and I picked up smoking cigarettes again after working so hard to release that habit a year ago. I stopped eating regularly, which threw off my energy and digestion and created a barrier to my ability to perform at my highest potential. This pattern of falling into addictive patterns, disordered eating habits, and putting aside basic human needs for the sake of work all adds to mental, emotional, and physical stress. Over time, it exacerbates burnout so severely that even the most brilliant, innovative, and talented crew members don’t return. It also reduces our life expectancy! It is alarming how many people I know personally who have either passed away prematurely, wound up in the hospital due to work stress or unsafe work practices, picked up unhealthy habits, or are suffering long-lasting health ailments.

And I am not alone… I can assure you that everyone who reads this can relate personally or knows someone experiencing at least one of the above concerns. The solution to all of this is better work-life balance through reformation of our industry’s overly demanding work culture.

My goal, with my new certifications and through the committees I work with, is to champion and lead that change. Through life coaching, I am here to guide others on what ignites their soul. Through breathwork and self-care practices, I want to create tools to combat the demands of the industry, and through racial equity facilitation, I am here to build bridges for diverse crew members and our allies to thrive.

How do you see the potential for breathwork and life coaching to contribute to creating a more inclusive and supportive environment in film and TV?

I truly believe that everyone in this industry is an artist on some level, and there are many roles for us to explore our creativity. We get to create something new, explore new challenges and overcome them every single day. It’s exciting, it’s inspiring, and it can be so meaningful. Plus, the camaraderie gained by working on an amazing show with cast and crew adds to the draw of working in this field. But, getting to explore your own creativity comes at the cost of your ability to constantly harvest that creative energy. The production industry benefits from our passion for being artists, yet by the end of the workday, we are zapped of our creative juices. The model isn’t sustainable. Even if we were robots – we would have to recharge at some point, right?

For us to have longevity as creatives, we need to have a foundation of self-care; this means taking personal breaks and spending time with family. It looks like having conversations in our community about our mental, emotional, and physical health. It’s about focusing the lens on sustainability as creatives versus being seen as expendable labour – because we are so much more. By prioritizing mental and emotional support for industry labour, everyone can function at their highest potential. Imagine what type of content and innovation we could create as an industry! There are plenty of healing modalities to explore that can all play a part in the self-care movement; therapy, coaching, journaling, breathwork etc. It’s about engaging in conversations about our self-care practices versus just talking about what we do to stay awake while driving home after a long day. The potential for these healing practices is unlimited – but we have to create the space for it. Heck, I’d even suggest adding it to the safety meeting. Let’s start the day with a nice deep breath, affirmative words and a reminder to be compassionate toward one another!

Imagine it’s 2033: where do you see your career going ten years from now?

I have a lot of goals and aspirations to achieve in this lifetime. The list could go on.

When I think of the industry, I want to achieve better working conditions, an increase in marginalized persons in leadership positions, and an establishment of communities that allow our Members to find support within our networks.

Through breathwork and self-care practices, I want to create tools to combat the demands of the industry, and through racial equity facilitation, I am here to build bridges for diverse crew members and our allies to thrive.

Right now, I am taking it step by step, allowing myself to go with the flow, trusting that my intention to have a positive impact will guide me to the opportunities and spaces to facilitate that change successfully. I envision a world where everyone is thriving and there is plenty of room for everyone to shine. I look forward to leading with that intention and seeing it come to fruition.

Related Posts



DGC Ontario Director J Stevens (Sort Of, Slo Pitch, Astrid & Lily Save the World) wants to shake up Canadian screens, one 2SLGBTQ+ show at a time. Recently named one of Canada's 10 to Watch and a member of TIFF's 2022 Filmmaker Lab, we talk to J about the importance of stories that reflect our lived experiences and why working with a team of openly trans and non-binary people on the set of Sort Of was so special. 
1st Assistant Art Director Kim Sison On “Paying It Forward” In The Art Department

1st Assistant Art Director Kim Sison On “Paying It Forward” In The Art Department

DGC Ontario 1st Assistant Art Director Kim Sison is a Toronto-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator. She specializes in designing prop and set graphics for film and television and has brought her artistic talents to such productions as The Expanse, Shadowhunters, Awake, Impulse, and the upcoming Beacon 23.


DGC Ontario Art Director Khanh Quach has been involved with many initiatives over the years to create inclusivity in the industry. Khanh shares his journey with Wider Lens: his path to film production, his efforts to move the industry in a more positive direction, and what he’s most proud of about his time on the DGC Ontario Executive Board. 


In honour of Earth Day today, we spoke to the co-chairs of DGC Ontario's Sustainability Committee: Production Designer Astra Burka and Location Manager Andrew Gainor. Read on to learn about their work on the Committee, their goals for the future of the industry and circular economy, and what all of us can do to reduce our individual carbon footprint.

Subscribe to get our newsletter

Scroll to Top