Speaker Tonya Williams

Speaker Tonya Williams


Tonya Williams

Founder & Executive Director

Reelworld Foundation

A recent recipient of the 2023 Visionary Award at The Legacy Awards, Tonya has been named one of the 100 most influential Black Canadians by Afroglobal Television in 2022, and Playbacks 2021 Changemaker of the year,  she is an award winning actress and producer who has worked in the entertainment industry for the last forty-five years in Canada and the USA. She is widely known for her nineteen years starring on the daytime drama The Young & The Restless as Dr. Olivia Winters. She is also well-known as the Founder and Executive Director of the Reelworld Screen Institute, Reelworld Film Festival and Reelworld Foundation. Tonya founded Reelworld in 2000 to address the lack of opportunities, access, and inclusion in Canada for Black, Indigenous, Asian and People of Colour in the screen industries.  

Tonya currently sits on a number of boards including the Canadian Artists Network, and is a co-founder and served as  a board member of the Black Screen Office. She also sits on the Telefilm Diversity & Inclusion Group, Telefilm Authentic Storytelling sub-committee, the Canadian Media Fund Racialized Advisory Group , the Ontario Creates Advisory Committee, Canadian Creative Industries Coalitions Group and the Canadian Racial Screen Leaders Collective.

Tonya has won numerous awards including two NAACP Image Awards, an ACTRA Award of Excellence, a WIFT-T Crystal Award, a Harry Jerome Award and was nominated twice for the Daytime Emmy Awards. In June 2023 she joined the Canadian Delegation attending the Second Session of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. A UK, Canadian and US Citizen who currently resides in Los Angeles, Tonya has been an outspoken advocate for racial diversity all of her life.

Speaking on: Going modern: will C-11 breathe new life into Canadian film?

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