November 14, 2017

Spotlight: Tonya Williams, 2017 Special Jury Award of Distinction honoree

With over thirty-five years working in the entertainment industry, award winning actress Tonya Williams has worked in front and behind the cameras.

The Oshawa-raised star began her career 35 years ago, dazzling us in performances on stage, television and screen. Some of us may remember her as a dancer on CityTV’s Boogie! and the host of the beloved children’s show Polka Dot Door in the 1980’s.

To broaden her opportunities, Tonya moved to Los Angeles where she landed her most memorable TV role as Dr. Olivia Hastings in the CBS daytime soap opera, The Young and The Restless. Tonya’s work as an actress has been recognized with numerous accolades, including two NAACP awards, two Emmy nominations, a Harry Jerome award, and an ACTRA Award of Excellence.

As someone who strongly believes in paying it forward and the power of representation in front of and behind the camera, Tonya actively advocates for improved opportunities for media artists of colour in Canada.

She founded Reelworld Film Festival in 2001 to empower underrepresented voices and harness the power of film and storytelling for social good. ReelWorld has become a launching pad for many emerging filmmakers and showcases Canadian and International films that explore some of the most current and pressing social issues facing the world.

Through her production company Wilbo Entertainment she has had the opportunity to produce and direct, and for five years Tonya sat on the Toronto Film Board where she worked diligently at creating more opportunities for emerging talent. She continues to be a passionate, tenacious advocate for filmmakers of colour around the world.


The Crystal Awards is Women in Film & Television – Toronto’s (WIFT-T) annual tribute to women working in the Canadian screen-based industry, as well as the men who champion them. Since 1988, WIFT-T has honoured over 130 industry trailblazers for their excellence in creativity, innovation, and leadership in Canada’s screen-based media industry (film, television and digital media).

The 30th Annual Crystal Awards Gala luncheon will take place on December 5, 2017 at the Arcadian Court, 401 Bay Street, Toronto, Ontario.

Nourish your spirit with more stories of WIFT-T and women in action:
2019 WIFT-T Showcase: Cera Ziegler (Learn to Swim)
Marni Van Dyk’s beautiful and subtle script is vividly brought to life by producer Cera Ziegler and director Thyrone Tommy, with nuanced performances by Thomas Olijade, Humberly Gonzalez and Allegra Fulton.
2019 WIFT-T Showcase: Chrisann Hessing (Turning Tables)
Rising documentary director, Chrisann Hessing's Turning Tables is a vibrant and energetic documentary that chronicles the creativity of Joshua DePerry (aka Classic Roots) as he combines Indigenous sounds and dance with modern techno and house music.
2019 WIFT-T Showcase: Rachel Cairns (Street Series)
Multi-hyphenate content creator and actress, Rachel Cairns, brings her hilarious and refreshing web series, Street Series, to our 10th annual WIFT-T Showcase.