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Actor Stephan James.illustration by Murat Yukselir

The Toronto International Film Festival is a big deal for most people in the biz, but this year, it will be especially important for Stephan James. The Toronto-born actor’s star has been rising since he played Olympic sprinter Jesse Owens in the 2016 film Race, and this year, it’s likely to shoot even higher with back-to-back premieres of his latest projects.

James stars in Amazon’s new series Homecoming and If Beale Street Could Talk, the highly anticipated latest feature from Moonlight director Barry Jenkins. Coming back to show these two projects in Toronto, where he grew up and started his career, is truly special, he says.

If that wasn’t enough, James is also hosting the third annual B.L.A.C.K. Ball, a celebration of black talent that he launched alongside his brother, Shamier Anderson. “It’s a great feeling to be able to honour a legacy of black filmmakers while highlighting a new generation of artists whose impact has begun to spread far beyond the limits of our city,” James says.

To accomplish all this will require a serious arsenal of stylish goods. Here, James shares his essentials.

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Photograph By Joseph Saraceno

1. Sneakers

“I want to be sure I feel healthy and energized so I have to take my Air Maxs to hit the hotel gym whenever I can.”

Nike Air Max 270 Sneaker, $200 at Nike (

2. Suiting

“Sandro and Dolce & Gabbana are tops choices for me. They fit extremely well and also have the European sensibility I dig.”

Sandro “Legacy” blazer, $330 at Hudson’s Bay (

3. Tickets

“I am hoping to have time to see a few other films besides mine while at TIFF and I will need tickets!”

Tickets, various prices at TIFF (

4. Reading

“I have read Death of a Salesman in the past and it is such a brilliant play that repeat reads are always in order.”

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, $14.73 through

5. Headphones

“I always travel with my Beats headphones to use on the plane and when I work out.”

Beats Studio3 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones, $399.95 at Apple (

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