Ennis Esmer

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Ennis Esmer
Esmer in 2020
Born (1978-12-29) December 29, 1978 (age 45)
Ankara, Turkey
Occupation(s)Actor, writer, comedian, voice actor, producer, presenter
Years active2003–present
SpouseAmy Blaxland

Ennis Esmer (born December 29, 1978) is a Turkish-Canadian actor, comedian, voice actor, writer, producer and presenter. He is best known for his roles as Osman 'Oz' Bey in The Listener, Kurtis 'Maz' Mazhari in Private Eyes, Nash in Red Oaks, and as Rich Dotcom in Blindspot – a role that was specifically written for him.[1]

Early life[edit]

Esmer was born in Ankara, Turkey, before moving to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, at the age of 3. His father, Demir, and his mother, Alev, were both systems analysts. As a child, Esmer learned English by watching Canadian television – which included programs like Sesame Street and Today's Special.[2] His parents divorced in his early teens, and his father remarried to Esmer's stepmother, Florence.[3] Esmer attended Earl Haig Secondary School, in the Toronto suburb of North York, participating in the Claude Watson Program for gifted arts students.[4][5] During his time at the school, he took improv and experimental theatre classes, was elected to student council, and produced school assemblies which became miniature talent showcases.[6]

Esmer then attended the York University drama program for three years but left before completing it. He struggled with the limitations it set on his natural comedic abilities and has said that part of this at the time was an issue of confidence and maturity. However, even after leaving the university and for many years has continued to study and work with David Rotenberg, a York University professor emeritus of Theatre Studies and the artistic director of his own Professional Actor's Lab – and has said that Rotenberg was the person who allowed him to actually work on his dramatic ability without calling his comedic gifts a crutch. Esmer also did some training at Second City and has worked every comedy stage in Toronto.[7][8]


Esmer first came to prominence as the writer and host of Toronto 1's short-lived variety series The Toronto Show in 2003.[9] His first acting role that got him notice was in 2006, as the temperamental janitor Zoltan in the Gemini Awards-winning Billable Hours – this role set a precedent in Esmer's career, as what was originally a one-off appearance was expanded to a recurring role because of the popularity of his take on it. His next major role came in 2009 in The Listener as Osman 'Oz' Bey, the best friend of the main character Toby Logan (played by Craig Olejnik). Esmer was nominated once in 2010 for an ACTRA Award, and twice in 2010 and 2011 for Canadian Comedy Awards for this role.[10][11] In the opposite seasons to shooting The Listener in Toronto, Esmer was shooting his role as Eddie, the apartment complex manager, in The L.A. Complex in Los Angeles – a situation that would repeat in his career.[12]

Starting in 2014, Esmer had regular roles in You Me Her, Private Eyes, Red Oaks, and Blindspot, once again often shooting in opposite or even the same seasons. In Audience Network's polyamorous comedy You Me Her, he played Dave Amari, best friend and neighbour of Jack Trekarsky, the 'Him' of the title. In Global Television Network/Ion Television's Private Eyes, he played Kurtis 'Maz' Mazhari, a Detective who helped main characters Matt Shade (played by Jason Priestley) and Angie Everett (played by Cindy Sampson) solve crimes. He would be nominated in 2019 for a Canadian Screen Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy at the 7th Canadian Screen Awards for this latter role.

In Amazon Studios 1980's set comedy-drama Red Oaks, he played the Turkish lothario tennis instructor Nash. He said of the role, 'It's fun to play a character who is a pretty decent representation of my ethnicity...His ethnicity doesn't define the role, and he gets to be a full person aside from that, and in fact, because of that.'[13] In NBC's Blindspot, Esmer again took a role that was an originally a one-off spot in season one, and went first to recurring then series regular in season four. His instinctive improvisational style and delivery made fan-favourite Rich Dotcom what the show creator Martin Gero said was the character that defined the series.[14][15] Esmer also had a memorable 3-episode arc as Emir Kaplan, the travel blogger who broke Stevie Budd's heart, in season five of the Emmy Award-winning comedy series Schitt's Creek.

Upcoming, Esmer is to star in CTV's comedy Children Ruin Everything.[16]

Esmer has also undertaken several hosting duties in Canada – hosting, among others, the Gemini Awards twice,[17] and the ACTRA Awards, even virtually hosting the feature films section of Directors Guild of Canada Awards in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also presented Wipeout Canada and the upcoming Roast Battle Canada, the Canadian version of Jeff Ross Presents Roast Battle.

In film, Esmer has worked extensively in Canadian indie short and feature-length films. He started his film career in a bit part as Ronnie in the American film How to Deal in 2003. His breakout film role was in 2007's Young People Fucking, co-written by his longtime friend and later Blindspot showrunner Martin Gero and other longtime friend Aaron Abrams. This film was notable not just for winning multiple Genie Awards and nearly sweeping the film category of the Canadian Comedy Awards, but also because of the furor around funding caused politically by its name and perceived content.

In 2014, Esmer starred in his first lead film role as Leonard Crane, a small-town newspaper reporter, in Big News from Grand Rock, a comedy-drama about the demise of small-town newspapers – on which he also served as an executive-producer.[18] The same year, he played a supporting role as Sean in the romantic comedy Dirty Singles, for which he was nominated for an ACTRA Award, and won best male performance at the Canadian Comedy Awards. In 2015, he played a supporting role in sex comedy How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town, directed by Jeremy Lalonde, again serving as executive-producer. In 2016, he played a supporting role in Miss Sloane with Jessica Chastain. That same year, he played Moe, a flight crash investigator, in the television film Brace for Impact, for which he was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for Best Performance by Supporting Actor in a Drama at the 6th Canadian Screen Awards in 2018. Also in 2018, he played the astrophysicist Charlie in Clara, a science-fiction film which won the Jury Prize at the Austin Film Festival.[19]

He won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Supporting Performance in a Comedy Series at the 11th Canadian Screen Awards in 2023, for his regular role in Children Ruin Everything.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Esmer is in a long-term relationship with Amy Blaxland – a stylist, costume designer and businesswoman.[21]

Ennis Esmer is both publicly and privately involved in many charities, focusing on homelessness, poverty, sick children, and reading (particularly in the Greater Toronto area).[22][23][24][25]

Esmer is also a lifelong Toronto Raptors and Toronto Blue Jays fan.[26][27] He is the originator of the nickname 'Spice and Dice' for Toronto Raptors' Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet.[28]


Year Film Role Notes
2003 How to Deal Ronnie
2004 Welcome to Mooseport Airport Passenger
2004 Decoys Gibby
2004 All You Got Paul
2007 Young People Fucking Gord
2007 Your Beautiful Cul de Sac Home Phil Goodfellow
2008 The Rocker Barney
2013 Sex After Kids Ben Nominated – Canadian Comedy Award for Best Male Performance in a Feature[29]
2014 Big News from Grand Rock Leonard Crane
2014 Dirty Singles Sean Nominated – ACTRA Award for Best Male Performance in a Feature – 2015[30]
Won – Best Male Performance in a Feature at Canadian Comedy Awards – 2015[31]
2015 How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town Adam Mitchell Won – Canadian Filmmakers' Festival Award for Best Ensemble Cast (shared with cast)[32]
2018 Clara Charlie Durant
2018 The Go-Getters Cabbie
2018 Nose to Tail Mark
2023 I Used to Be Funny Noah
2023 The Amityville Curse Reverend Dave Marion
Year TV show Role Notes
2003 Veritas: The Quest Egyptian Guard 1 Episode
2003 Queer as Folk Henry 1 Episode
2003 The Cheetah Girls Comedian TV movie
2005 Tilt College Kid 1 Episode
2005 Kojak Stewart 1 Episode
2006 The Path to 9/11 Mohammed Salameh Mini-Series
2006–2008 Billable Hours Zoltan Recurring
Nominated – Gemini Award for Best Ensemble Performance in a Comedy Program or Series (shared with cast) (2008)[33]
2007 Snowglobe Jamie DiBiasi TV movie
2008 ReGenesis Dr. Daniel Peters 1 Episode
2008 Flashpoint Frank 1 Episode
2008 For the Love of Grace Frank Lockwood TV movie
2009 Unstable Eric TV movie
2009–2014 The Listener Osman 'Oz' Bey Series Lead (62 episodes)
Nominated – Canadian Comedy Award for Best Performance by a Male – TV (2010)[34]
Nominated – Canadian Comedy Award for Best Performance by a Male – TV (2011)[35]
2010 Murdoch Mysteries Marcus Evans 1 Episode
2010 Covert Affairs CIA Polygrapher Recurring
2011 Wipeout Canada Himself Co-Host
2012 The L.A. Complex Eddie Demir Recurring, 16 episodes
2013 Transporter: The Series André 1 Episode (12 Hours)
2013 Nikita Guler 1 Episode (High-Value Target)
2014 Republic of Doyle Peete Episode 5X7
2014–2017 Red Oaks Nash Series regular
7th Canadian Screen Awards
2015–2017 Dark Matter Wexler Recurring
2015–2020 Blindspot Gord Enver / Rich Dotcom Recurring (seasons 1–3), 14 episodes

Series regular (season 4–5), 33 episodes

2016–2021 Private Eyes Kurtis Mazhari Recurring, 29 episodes
2016 Brace for Impact Moe Television film
Nominated – Best Supporting Actor in a Television Film or Series – Canadian Screen Awards (2018)[36]
2016–2020 You Me Her Dave Amari Recurring
2019 Schitt's Creek Emir Kaplan 3 episodes
2021 Frankie Drake Mysteries Count Grigore 1 episode
2021 Wynonna Earp Kuru 1 Episode
2021 Nine Films About Technology Rashid Lead in stand-alone episode Story of a Phone
2021 The Flash Psych / Bashir Malik, Negative Psych Recurring
2021 Roast Battle Canada Himself Host
2022–present Children Ruin Everything Ennis Series regular
2024 Sight Unseen Kye Recurring


  1. ^ 'How dark web hacker Rich DotCom became the heart of Blindspot', Entertainment Weekly website, June 25, 2020, Retrieved August 7, 2021
  2. ^ 'WHAT I'M WATCHING / ENNIS ESMER' The Globe and Mail, May 29, 2009, Retrieved August 7, 2021(Subscription required.)
  3. ^ @demir.esmer.ddc (August 5, 2018). "Niagara on the Lake". Retrieved September 16, 2021 – via Instagram.
  4. ^ 'Ennis Esmer hits his stride in the world of acting' Toronto.com website, April 2, 2011, Retrieved August 7, 2021
  5. ^ 'Claude Watson Program' Earl Haig website – Claude Watson section, No date, Retrieved August 7, 2021
  6. ^ 'Ennis Esmer The star of NBC's hottest new show returns to the North York school that gave him his start and talks about his path to stardom', Trto.com website (new site of previously cited postcity article), July 29, 2009, Retrieved August 7, 2021
  7. ^ Heidi Germaine Schnappauf (February 17, 2020). "HSG Ep. 12: Ennis Esmer – Schitt's Creek, Awkward Moments, and Ice Cream". The Hungry Stuntgirl (Podcast). Heidi Germaine Schnappauf. Retrieved August 7, 2021.
  8. ^ 'WHAT I'M WATCHING / ENNIS ESMER' The Globe and Mail, May 29, 2009, Retrieved August 7, 2021(Subscription required.)
  9. ^ 'Ennis Esmer: The star of NBC's hottest new show returns to the North York school that gave him his start and talks about his path to stardom', Trnto.com website (new site of previously cited postcity article), July 29, 2009, Retrieved August 7, 2021
  10. ^ 'Q&A: The Listener's Ennis Esmer on hosting the ACTRA Awards', February 24, 2011, Retrieved August 7, 2011
  11. ^ 'Canadian Comedy Awards NOMINATIONS & AWARDS ARCHIVES', Canadian Comedy Awards website, no date, Retrieved August 7, 2021
  12. ^ 'Interview with The LA Complex's Ennis Esmer', Talk Nerdy with Us website, September 17, 2012, Retrieved August 7, 2021
  13. ^ 'Ennis Esmer from Amazon's Red Oaks on Playing Nash', Parade Magazine website, November 10, 2016, Retrieved August 7, 2021
  14. ^ 'How dark web hacker Rich DotCom became the heart of Blindspot', Entertainment Weekly website, June 25, 2020, Retrieved August 7, 2021
  15. ^ Blindspot': Ennis Esmer Promoted To Series Regular On NBC Drama Series', Deadline website, August 23, 2018, Retrieved August 7, 2021
  16. ^ 'Aaron Abrams To Star In Canadian Comedy 'Children Ruin Everything' From Chuck Tatham & Kurt Smeaton, Deadline website, March 21, 2021, Retrieved August 8, 2021
  17. ^ 'The Geminis by the numbers', The Globe and Mail website, November 13, 2009, Retrieved August 7, 2021(subscription required)
  18. ^ 'Ennis Esmer adored small town life of Big News from Grand Rock', Toronto Star website, February 27, 2015, Retrieved August 7, 2021
  19. ^ 'SW2W: AKASH SHERMAN – screenwriter to watch', May 3, 2019, Retrieved August 8, 2021
  20. ^ "The Porter, Sort Of showered in awards on the CSAs' final night". CBC News, April 14, 2023.
  21. ^ Amanda Lund (February 11, 2020). "The Big Ones Presents: Playcation! Up In The Air WITH GUEST ENNIS ESMER". Acast (Podcast). The Big Ones. Retrieved August 7, 2021.
  22. ^ 'Support youth escaping homelessness at annual A Home for the Holidays fundraiser' Toronto.com website, November 3, 2015, Retrieved August 7, 2021
  23. ^ 'Canadians share their thoughts on Live Below the Line challenge' One Organisation website, No Date, Retrieved August 7, 2021
  24. ^ 'Behind the scenes with SickKids patients on the set of The Listener', Toronto Sick Kids Foundation website, No Date, Retrieved August 7, 2021
  25. ^ 'A Good Book Drive', A Good Book Drive website, No date, Retrieved August 7, 2021
  26. ^ 'Raptors fan says he might be 'changed as a person' after watching Game 6 up close in Oakland Canadian Broadcasting Corporation website, June 14, 2019, Retrieved August 7, 2021
  27. ^ 'Ennis Esmer of 'Red Oaks' Talks Tennis and Comedy', The New York Times, October 14, 2015, Retrieved August 7, 2021
  28. ^ Esmer,E. [@ennisesmer]. (2022, Feb 4). 2016 nba draft. Siakam goes 27th. Fred undrafted. One could pretty safely argue they go 1-2 in a redraft. Who tops them so far? Sabonis, Ingram, Brown, Murray? I'd rather have 🌶 & 🎲 🎲 #SpiceAndDice #WeTheNorth™️[Tweet] Twitter. Retrieved April 8, 2022 .https://twitter.com/ennisesmer/status/1489488980693422082
  29. ^ "2014 Canadian Comedy Awards nominees announced". www.thecomedynetwork.ca. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  30. ^ '2015 ACTRA Awards in Toronto Winners', ACTRA Toronto website, February 2, 2015, Retrieved 08/08/2021
  31. ^ 'NOMINATIONS & AWARDS ARCHIVES' Archived August 2, 2018, at archive.today, Canadian Comedy Awards website, No Date, Retrieved 08/08/2021
  32. ^ "Canadian Film Fest". Canadian Film Fest. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  33. ^ "awards database". academy.ca. Archived from the original on December 1, 2016. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  34. ^ "2010 nominees" (PDF). agamdarshi.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 1, 2017. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  35. ^ Mooney, Sam (June 10, 2011). "Canadian Comedy Awards Nominees Announced". Mooney on Theatre. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  36. ^ 'Bell Media Congratulates Film and Television Production Partners on 203 Nominations for the 2018 Canadian Screen Awards', Cision Newswire website, January 16, 2018, Retrieved August 8, 2021

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