Martha Burns is an award-winning Canadian actress known for her stage work and youth outreach in Ontario and her leading role as Ellen Fanshaw in the TV dramedy series Slings and Arrows.
Burns was born 1958 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She was nominated three times for a Gemini Award for her performance as Shakespearean diva Ellen Fanshaw in Slings and Arrows, and won twice: in 2006 and 2007. She has also won the Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role twice, for Long Day's Journey into Night in 1996 and for Love & Savagery in 2010.
Burns is a founding member and a former associate director of Toronto's Soulpepper Theatre Company, a company that includes a number of theatre veterans from the Canadian Stratford Shakespeare Festival. She has also performed leading roles at Stratford, the Shaw Festival, the National Arts Centre and the Tarragon Theatre, to name just a few. She was nominated five times for a Dora Mavor Moore Award and won twice: in 1986 for The Miracle Worker and in 1984 for Trafford Tanzi.
As associate artistic director at Soulpepper, Burns headed up its extensive youth outreach program. Earlier in her career, she founded the Toronto Arts for Youth Association and was a co-founder of another youth theatre project in Toronto, Masterclass Theatre. She has also worked as an instructor for the theatre programs at George Brown College and Ryerson University. In 2005 she was honoured for her career in the theatre with the Barbara Hamilton Award.