Speaker Tonya Williams

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Tonya Williams

Founder & Executive Director

Reelworld Screen Institute

Tonya Williams is an award winning actress, producer and activist who has worked in the entertainment industry for the last forty-five years in Canada and the USA.  She is best known for her nineteen years starring on the daytime drama The Young & The Restless as Dr. Olivia Winters.  She is also the founder and executive director of Reelworld Screen Institute, Reelworld Film Festival and Reelworld Foundation since 2000. She founded Reelworld to address the lack of opportunities, access and inclusion in Canada for Black, Indigenous, Asian and People of Colour in the screen industries. In 2020 Reelworld launched Access Reelworld, one of Canada’s largest searchable database for racially diverse crews and talent. 

For decades Tonya has been a prominent voice in the screen industry advocating for more inclusion and the importance of diverse creators having the access to tell their own stories with their authentic voices. In 2021 she was named Playback’s Changemaker of the Year.

Tonya currently sits on a number of boards including The Black Academy, is a founder and board member of the Black Screen Office, she also sits on the Telefilm Diversity & Inclusion Group, the Canadian Media Fund Racial Advisory Group, the Ontario Creates Advisory Committee and Canadian Creative Industries Coalitions Group. She has won numerous awards including two NAACP Image Awards, ACTRA Award of Excellence, WIFT Crystal Award, a Harry Jerome Award and was nominated twice for the Daytime Emmy Awards.

Speaking on: Meet a Decision Maker

At the Banff Media Festival, we met with Netflix and took a ride up Sulphur Mountain on the gondola. That’s where we made the pitch.
- Naveen Prasad, EVP and GM, Elevation Pictures


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