Antonio Michael Downing

Antonio Michael Downing

Toronto, Ontario
Best Selling Author - Anti Racism & Oppression - Diversity and Inclusion Expert
Antonio Michael Downing is a Musician Writer & Best Selling Author, Anti Racism & Oppression Activist, Diversity and Inclusion Expert. He grew up in southern Trinidad, Northern Ontario, Brooklyn, New York, and Kitchener, Ontario. He is a musician, writer, and activist based in Toronto. His novel, Molasses, was published to critical acclaim. In 2017, he was named by the RBC Taylor Prize as one of Canada’s top Emerging Writers of non-fiction. He performs and composes music as John Orpheus.
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Employee Management
  • Resilience & Adversity
  • Annual General Meetings
  • Awareness Days
  • Campus & University Speakers
  • Community Engagement Events
  • Conferences & Summits
  • Corporate Audience
  • Corporations & Businesses
  • Inspirational


Antonio Michael Downing grew up on the island of Trinidad and Tobago with his indomitable Grandmother who imprinted on him his sense of authenticity, empathy, and integrity. She also taught him the two passions that would rule his life: reading and singing.

After coming to Canada at the age of 11, Antonio Michael Downing became an avid athlete and a voracious reader and theatre performer. He studied English Literature and played varsity basketball at the University of Waterloo where he began his artistic career by writing and directing two student films.

His corporate journey began in 2003 when he joined BLACKBERRY while simultaneously pursuing a musical career, eventually releasing 5 albums and touring across North America. At BlackBerry he helped drive the success of one of Canada’s greatest business successes eventually becoming territory sales manager for the Southeastern U.S. He went on to lead the Sales and Marketing Team at start-up which, in his tenure, became Canada’s largest Cloud IT platform for lawyers. He is currently the Lead Coach at Conestoga College’s SALES LAB, a program he built to mentor young Sales professionals. Sales Lab has achieved a 95% placement rate for its graduates. Antonio Michael Downing is an expert in Sales education and mentorship.

His passion has always been literature. A voracious reader and prolific author in 2010 he released his novel MOLASSES (Blaurock Press) to critical acclaim. In 2017 Antonio Michael Downing was recognized as one of Canada’s top Emerging Authors by the Taylor Prize. In 2021 he released his memoir SAGA BOY, receiving rave reviews in both Canada and the U.S. It was shortlisted for the Speakers Book Award and the Toronto Book Award and featured on MSNBC. He continues to publish regularly with a novel LITTLE ORPHAN BLUE (Scribner) and a children’s picture book STARS IN MY CROWN (Tundra Books) due in 2024.

Antonio Michael Downing performs music as JOHN ORPHEUS and has released 7 albums including the critically acclaimed SAGA KING, which Exclaim Magazine named as one of the most anticipated albums of 2021. He has been featured regularly in Complex Magazine, CBC Music, and Sirius XM. He has built a reputation for engaging stage presence, fashion forward music videos and his inimitable mashing up of genres such as hip hop, soca, dancehall and afrobeats.

Antonio Michael Downing has become a dynamic speaker in areas of Creativity, Storytelling, Diversity and Inclusion and continues to write and speak at high schools, universities, corporations and institutions across North America.




Source Booksellers


Saga Boy Release Celebration

Q with Tom Power


[Full episode] Barbra Streisand, John Orpheus, Emma Seligman

Story Untold Podcast


Antonio Michael Downing: “The mask is how we unleash [our stories]”

Antonio Michael Downing Topic Presentations

storytelling for resilience

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Understanding your organization’s and your individual employee’s story helps ground you in your purpose, clarify your mission and makes for more committed and focused teams. Antonio Michael Downing will unleash the power of personal storytelling to transform your team and equip them with new approaches.

storytelling for sales

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Sales is the lifeblood of any business. The key to empowering your salespeople is giving them the tools to tell great stories. Stories build on Authenticity, Empathy and Integrity. Stories that leverage the tried and tested approaches deployed in books and songs for millennia. Antonio Michael Downing will tap into your team’s latent storytelling capabilities to engage your customer’s and close more business.

sales mentorship

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Traditional sales techniques focus on selling a product but the key to a customer’s buying decision is their mindset about the problem you are solving. This deep dive into how empathy can be deployed to align with the customer’s view of the problem will transform how your team sells.

applied creativity

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • The world of art seems light years from the world of business but fundamentally both involve the same basic cognitive process: creative problem solving. Delving into techniques learned from songwriting, acting and literature we will equip your team with new skill sets and a new way of seeing that unlocks their dormant artistic strengths.

diversity and inclusion

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Understanding each other is key to driving inclusion in diverse organizations. Antonio Michael Downing’s methodology for understanding your own formative moments will drive meaningful change in your appreciation of the value of diverse voices.

the excellence toolkit

  • Virtual PresentationKeynote PresentationWorkshop SessionHalf Day TrainingFull Day Training
  • Drawing on Antonio Michael Downing’s story which spans continents, industries, business and literary success, this inspiring talk will have your school or team re-invigorated – and re-quipped with new techniques – to meet their personal goals and challenges.


Antonio Michael Downing electrified our audience of entrepreneurs, corporate stakeholders, and Members of Federal and Provincial Legislatures, as well as federal, regional, and municipal representatives who attended the epochal unveiling of the LiftOff Black Entrepreneurship program to the public for the first time. Given the theme, context, and historic milestone of the occasion, his words, presence, and candour were compelling and perfect highlights of the evening. Relevant, eloquent and engaging; his presentation was the cynosure of all of us at the event. He is an inspirational and evocative speaker; one whom I highly recommend, unreservedly

Uche Onuora

Venture Coach 
Lift Off Program

The entire WRDSB has a such deep appreciation for you. The students are made better in each moment shared with you.

Teneile Warren

Equity and Inclusion Officer
Waterloo Regional District School Board

Your keynote to our budding entrepreneurs today was truly awesome!

Folake Owodunni

Program Manager
LiftOff Venture Program

Antonio Michael Downing is simply a rock star! His keynote on Storytelling at our Canadian Sales Educators Symposium in 2021 was, in itself, a master class in storytelling. Dynamic and engaging, Michael captured the attention and imagination of the entire room while imparting valuable insights. This was the most highly rated session of the symposium with attendees starting their emails with “As Michael said”!

Rose Mastnak

Director, Conestoga Entrepreneurship Collective
Conestoga College ITAL

Singularly dazzling, Saga Boy is a brilliant collage of the twenty-first century’s most incredible memoirs. Told with an unforgettable and innovative pace, this a book I will reread forever.

Kiese Laymon

Author of Heavy

Antonio Michael Downing’s Saga Boy is a vibrant, evocative, and searing account of the lives of Black immigrants. Downing helps us understand the rage and resilience of Black boys—motherless, fatherless, itinerant—and the communities that intervene to raise them. The triumph of Saga Boy is the triumph of Blackness everywhere—the irrepressible instinct for survival in a world where Blacks are prey.

Ian Williams, Giller Prize

Winning Author of Reproduction

Articles & Media

Antonio Michael Downing shares his lifelong search for his Black identity in the memoir Saga Boy


Antonio Michael Downing is an author, musician and activist. But he has been many things, and has answered to many different names. As a young boy growing up in Trinidad, his name was Tony. Living in Canada, many knew him as Michael. And as a globetrotting musician, you might know him as Mic...

From a Trinidadian childhood in the rainforest to, hours later, a new home in a Northern Ontario blizzard: Antonio Michael Downing’s powerful new book ‘Saga Boy’

Toronto Star

One day, 11-year-old Antonio Michael Downing is in Trinidad, being raised in the bush, which “is really a rainforest, and it spread its wings everywhere,” the cherished grandson of Miss Excelly. A few days later, after her sudden death, he is sent, along with his older brother Junior, to live...


The Community Edition

Antonio Michael Downing—artist, musician, creator—is the first mentor in Waterloo Region District School Board’s (WRDSB) Black Artist-in-Residence program. He is doing his residency at his alma mater, Glenview Park Secondary School in Cambridge. The program is similar to some programs in...

‘Saga Boy’ author on his search for belonging in Canada

Global News

Author Antonio Michael Downing joins The Morning Show to talk about his new memoir ‘Saga Boy’ which explores his journey from Southern Trinidad to Northern Ontario.

CTV Your Morning


Antonio Michael Downing reflects on his search for identity after moving to Canada | Your Morning

Scotiabank Giller Prize


Giller Power Panel: AfriCanLit – Contours & Conflicts

Global News


‘Saga Boy’ author on his search for belonging in Canada


Saga Boy
Saga Boy
My Life of Becomimg Blackness
How to book Antonio Michael Downing for an event?

Antonio Michael Downing keynote speaker is an expert presenter and has a wide range of experience speaking to a wide variety of audiences and organizations. Antonio Michael Downing delivers keynotes, workshops & training sessions. They may also host or emcee events. Hire Antonio Michael Downing from Toronto, Ontario for your event to inspire the audience to take action and make change in their work and their lives. Your workplace will benefit from our keynote speaker and their keynote talks and speeches will shift the mindsets or behaviours for the audience members in Canada. 

Interested in booking Antonio Michael Downing for an event?

Are you looking to hire Antonio Michael Downing for your event? Antonio Michael Downing Toronto, Ontario is a dynamic and engaging speaker that offers audiences researched content paired with expertise and a dynamic speaking ability. Antonio Michael Downing is also a Canadian corporate consultant and coach and facilitates workshops and training sessions for a corporate audience. Antonio Michael Downing is an expert keynote presenter and speaks on wide variety of topics. Hiring a great speaker for your event is important and working with a thought leader like Antonio Michael Downing from Speakers Canada’s roster will engage audiences into the content of the presentation to bring awareness and a fresh perspective for their approach to their work and their lives. Book Antonio Michael Downing to educate, motivate and activate the audience through an interactive and entertaining presentation at corporate meetings and gatherings.

Known as a popular key note speaker in Canada, Antonio Michael Downing creates life changing experiences for the participants with practical insights and strategic advice they can implement right after the session. Working with a one our leading expert speaker like Antonio Michael Downing from Toronto, Ontario offers organizations a fresh perspective to assist the people of the organization. No matter if it is a government, association, or business crowd, Antonio Michael Downing is a perfect speaker for your event. Through unique practical insights for trending topics and years experience speaking to different organizations, Antonio Michael Downing focuses on changing individuals to make better decisions at work and their lives. No matter if you are holding an in person or virtual event, having an influential speaker such as Antonio Michael Downing will engage, motivate, and activate the audience to make a change in their lives and inspire action for results to meet organizational goals. Your workforce will benefit from Antonio Michael Downing’s presentations and speeches, with measurable results set to shift the people of the organization and core direction of the company. Book Antonio Michael Downing speaker for your annual general meeting, conference, summit, or convention in Canada.

How much does it cost to hire Antonio Michael Downing for a keynote presentation or virtual event?

Antonio Michael Downing is an expert professional key note speaker with a lot of experience speaking and delivering engaging talks to organizations and audiences in Canada. Each of Speaker Bureau Canada’s talent have different ways to assess their fees, and Antonio Michael Downing speaker fee ranges depending on the size of the audience, event format (in person or virtual), event location, and if the organization booking them is a non profit, association, government department/government agency or business/corporation. The speakers we work with are flexible with their fees, and it is important for us to learn more about your event before we approach them, as it is our role to work for you, and to help you find a speaker within budget. 

Please contact Speakers Bureau of Canada and provide us with your event details so that we can contact Antonio Michael Downing to check availability or confirm the pricing and associated costs to hire a great speaker like Antonio Michael Downing for your event. As Antonio Michael Downing's agent and as a Canadian top speaker bureau and talent agency for speakers, we are able to propose each event opportunity from each host organization’s behalf to try to help you get in touch with Antonio Michael Downing and confirm them for your in person or online meeting/event. We can also provide and advise on the booking process and potentially negotiate their fee. Speakers Canada is a client focused speaker agency, and we work for you in finding good speakers for your team meetings and booking processes.

Antonio Michael Downing Disclaimer
Speakers Bureau Canada assists companies and event planning teams seeking to hire talent like Antonio Michael Downing for speaking engagements, virtual meetings, conference appearances, training sessions and workshops facilitations. Our Canadian speakers bureau does not claim to exclusively represent Antonio Michael Downing, however they are represented by Speakers Canada, and we work with them closely for their Canadian speaking opportunities and bookings. As Canada’s top speaker bureau, we represent Canadian motivational keynote speakers and professional guest speakers that will be available on your upcoming events date and location that are withing the budget. Our talented bureau speaker booking agency can help find business speakers or celebrity speakers that aligns with each organization, audience, event theme and the topic themes you hope for the speaker to address in their presentation. 

When SBC receives a request to book Antonio Michael Downing we provide you with their speaker fees, travel costs and check their schedules. We work closely with the host organization’s event planning team and the speaker to handle the logistics and to relay or negotiate associated costs. Our talented team members then will work with our talent directly or their agent/manager/assistant to confirm the Canadian speaker fee and travel expenses, so that event planning teams can receive an official quote for the speaker appearing at the event. Speaker fees and travel costs vary per speaker and our role is to contact Antonio Michael Downing about your event, after we have connected with the event organizers to learn all the event details and/or conference program. Each booking request is unique since session durations and audience sizes can vary which may affect the speaker’s fees. If you are looking to hire Antonio Michael Downing, we recommend filling out the booking request form so a booking agent from Speakers Bureau Canada can get in touch with our talent to help you coordinate with your team to engage the speaker for a successful event.

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