By GERRY POSNER
There are times when you can tell at an early age that a particular person will rise to the top. Allison Weiss certainly fits that description. Allison, daughter of Lorne and Paulette Weiss, was on the ascent right from her days at Ramah Hebrew School.
She attended Joseph Wolinsky and later moved to the University of Winnipeg Collegiate, where she finished her high school. Allison went on to the University of Manitoba and, with her BA in hand, she was soon taking Law. Making the Dean’s List after her first year was enough to attract the attention of a large Toronto law firm, Goodman’s LLP.
However, during those high school and university years, Allison was what you could call an active player in the Jewish community of Winnipeg. Aside from being the president of her BBYO chapter, she was quite into extra curricular programmes, as a dancer first with Ruach, and later with the Chai Folk Ensemble. In fact, Chai basically took up the bulk of Allison’s teenage years. Of course through Chai, she was able to travel to Epcot, various American destinations, Mexico City and Israel while she performed and she had the real joy, only surpassed by her parents, of having them with her in Israel.
Her father, Lorne Weiss, was in fact the president of the Chai board during her tenure as a dancer with the dance group. In addition, Allison was both a BB Camp and Massad graduate. What all of this activity showed was a young woman ready to take on the world and that pattern has not changed since she moved to Toronto in 2002.
Allison was quick to adapt to a new province and new career. She has had 14 years now in Toronto and she says she is glad she took the plunge. After completing her articles, Allison was off to work in the entertainment industry as a lawyer. After all, she had been a dancer all those years in Winnipeg, and she felt a real connection to the arts; thus, it was a natural step.
And, who should Allison go to work for but another ex- Winnipegger -Garry Blye. He hired Allison to be VP of business affairs at MicroTainment Plus Productions, a television production company based in Toronto. Yet, even with the Winnipeg origins for both Weiss and Blye, neither knew of the other. The introduction came via Allison’s Hip Hop dance instructor in Toronto who knew Blye. Thus began her career in entertainment law.
Since that time, Allison has become more diversified, wearing two hats. Firstly, she owns and operates her own entertainment law practice, where she advises independent television production companies on various aspects of their business relating to financing, production and exploitation of their programming. In addition, Allison acts as legal counsel for a private financing company. (She must have inherited some of her father’s genes, given his background and responsibility for the finances of Chai).
And so, in this way, Allison is able to deal with small businesses and work with producers, assisting them to create content. On the other hand, with her role as counsel to a financial corporation, Allison was involved in various philanthropic endeavours and was in no small way responsible for directing funds to Chai for their trip to Israel. That meant a great deal to Allison. It is called giving back.
Allison’s name popped up recently at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival when the list of sponsors appeared and there was the name of Allison Weiss. TJFF is a place where she sits as a member of the board of directors. It is her way of being a part of her community, a valuable lesson learned from her parents. When she has spare time, Allison has moved fromh ip hop to ballet, so she is one busy woman. What is certain is that all of the seeds for the success of Allison Weiss were planted right in Winnipeg.