November 6, 2020
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Announcements

Celebrate 33 Years of Women’s Excellence in the Screen-Based Media Industry

The annual WIFT Toronto Crystal Awards Gala will be held virtually on Monday, December 1, 2020

(Thursday, November 5, 2020 – Toronto,Ontario) The team at WIFT Toronto, along with a dedicated jury of past winners, are thrilled to announce the five outstanding women to be honoured at the Bell Media Studios 2020 WIFT Toronto Crystal Awards Gala in Association with Entertainment One and Company 3 on December 1st, hosted by Melissa Grelo, co-host of CTV's The Social.

The Crystal Awards, established in 1988, is WIFT Toronto’s annual tribute to individuals who have made significant contributions to Canada’s screen-based media industry. Since its inception, over 150 industry trailblazers have been recognized for excellence in creativity, innovation, and leadership; and their commitment to mentoring the next generation of creators and industry leaders.

This year’s honourees are: Beth Janson, CEO at the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television; Marsha Greene, Showrunner, Television Writer, Executive Producer; Jennifer Kawaja, Producer and Co-President of Sienna Films; Sue Haas, VP of Digital Media at Blue Ant Media; and Marci Ien, previous co-Host on CTV's The Social and current liberal MP for Toronto Centre.

“In a year with so much uncertainty and chaos, we are thrilled to recognize and celebrate the achievements of these five fabulous women who continue to forge ahead, breaking barriers and leading the charge so that our industry can continue to thrive and connect with audiences, not just in Canada but internationally as well. This year’s recipients have individually and collectively been instrumental to demanding and creating change for a more inclusive and diverse industry and I look forward to celebrating their achievements.” – Karen Bruce, Executive Director, WIFT Toronto

CREATIVE EXCELLENCE AWARD sponsored by Entertainment One: Marsha Greene, Showrunner, Television Writer, Executive Producer

Marsha Greene has written for Canadian and American series including Private Eyes, Ten Days in the Valley, Departure, and Coroner. Notably, Marsha was the showrunner for the third season of Mary Kills People, and has received three Canadian Screen Award nominations.

Marsha is a graduate of the CFC Prime Time Television program, holds an Honours BA in Creative Writing from York University, and has a graduate certificate from Humber College’s TV Writing and Producing program, where she was awarded the Brian Linehan Award for Outstanding Artistic Promise. Marsha is also a WGC Councillor and Chair of its Diversity Committee.

DIGITAL TRAILBLAZER AWARD: Sue Haas, VP of Digital Media at Blue Ant Media

Sue Haas is a respected leader in the digital media industry, with over 18 years of experience working with content creators across several TV brands. In her current role as VP of Digital Media at Blue Ant Media, Sue works across several niche multi-platform brands, including Cottage Life, Animalogic, ASide and Makeful. She oversees end to end success of digital content and products on web, mobile and social, including strategy, content and product development, operations and delivery, marketing and revenue generation.

Sue strives to continually adapt and evolve digital media to appeal to the latest industry trends and audience expectations. Most notably, Sue’s creative leadership transitioned the leading outdoor and lifestyle magazine, Cottage Life, from a print-first brand into a digital-first brand, thereby creating one of the strongest multi-platform brand offerings in Canada. To date, Cottage Life outperforms the market across all digital and social media platforms in outdoor and home categories. Sue has also designed and built Animalogic from the ground up to quickly become an international YouTube sensation with close to 1.2 million subscribers worldwide. Animalogic is an educational YouTube platform covering the in-depth science behind why animals do what they do and how they’ve evolved. Prior to joining Blue Ant Media 10 years ago, Sue worked at Alliance Atlantis as a content producer for History Television and HGTV’s digital platforms.

MENTORSHIP AWARD sponsored by Entertainment One: Jennifer Kawaja, Producer and Co-President of Sienna Films

Jennifer Kawaja is a Principal and Executive Producer at Toronto-based Sienna Films. Recent credits include: CBC series Trickster (TIFF 2020, Official Selection), airing on platforms internationally including SyFy (UK) and soon on AMC Networks; award-winning Bell Media crime drama Cardinal, which completed its fourth and final season in 2020 on platforms including Hulu, BBC2 and Canal+; and Ransom for Corus with eOne, which aired 3 seasons in over 100 territories worldwide. The company, acquired by Sphere Media in 2020, built its reputation creating premium content through feature films including Happy Place, Sweetness in the Belly, How She Move, Touch of Pink, and New Waterford Girl.

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN BUSINESS sponsored by Company 3: Beth Janson, CEO at the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television

Beth Janson is the Chief Executive Officer of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. Beth has over two decades of experience in the film, television and cultural sectors in Canada and the US, having worked at the Tribeca Film Institute and HBO before joining the Canadian Academy in 2016. A champion of inclusivity, Beth has been the creative force behind several innovative developmental programs including the Canadian Academy Directors Program for Women, the Warner Media x Canadian Academy Global Access Writers Program, Tribeca All Access and Rent the Runway Foundation’s Project Entrepreneur program. Beth holds a BFA from York University.

SPECIAL JURY AWARD OF DISTINCTION Sponsored by Bell Media Studios: Marci Ien, previous co-Host on CTV's The Social and current liberal MP for Toronto Centre.

Marci Ien is a devoted Toronto community leader and journalist who has dedicated her life to providing a voice for those who need it most. She is a passionate advocate for vulnerable communities in Canada and around the world, with an award-winning career in journalism and television that has spanned three decades. She has travelled internationally with Journalists for Human Rights and WorldVision — and here at home, Marci has worked with underprivileged youth as a mentor with Trust15, an afterschool program based in Etobicoke, and in La Loche following the shooting at Dene High School in 2016.

As a journalist, she worked to promote issues that impacted young people and marginalized communities, both in her early reporting at Queens Park and later in her career at Canada AM and The Social. She also supported students from these communities by co-founding a new scholarship at the RTA School of Media .A graduate of Ryerson University, Marci later returned to Ryerson as a distinguished visiting professor and by serving on its Board of Governors. She has been a leading advocate against systemic racism in Toronto and across Canada.

 

The 2020 Crystal Award Honourees were nominated by WIFT Toronto members and selected by a jury of past winners: maxine bailey, Cultural Maven; Karen Walton, Screenwriter and Executive Producer at Inkling Entertainment Inc.; and Michelle Crespi, Executive Producer and Director at Bell Media Studios.

WIFT Toronto thanks the following 2020 Crystal Awards partners and sponsors for their support: Presenting Partners, Bell Media, Company 3 and Entertainment One; and Supporting Partners Bell Fund, Bank of Montreal, City of Toronto, Ontario Creates, Sim International and Telefilm Canada.

About WIFT Toronto

Women in Film and Television Toronto (WIFT Toronto) is a non-profit, inclusive, member-based organization dedicated to the development and advancement of women and those who identify as women, in the screen-based industry. WIFT Toronto engages, empowers, and educates its 900+ members through professional development, mentoring, networking opportunities, and celebrations that underscore the successes of members and non-members alike.  In the last three years alone, WIFT Toronto has generated more than 150 mentorships, bestowed 21 bursaries and 62 awards, and produced nearly 700 hours of programming including 65+ networking opportunities.  

For additional information, interviews and images, contact:
Amanda Fruci Amanda.fruci@gmail.com; 647-998-2737