Activist Tonya Williams Recognized for Advocacy in Canadian Entertainment Industry

For many, Tonya Williams is best known for her role as Dr. Olivia Barber Winters on the popular soap opera The Young and The Restless. However, she was recently honored with the Changemaker Award at the 2024 Canadians Screen Awards in Toronto for her work as the founder of Reelworld.

In her acceptance speech, Williams emphasized the challenges faced by racially diverse individuals in the entertainment industry and the importance of promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion. She highlighted the mission of Reelworld, which was established in 2000 to support Black, Indigenous, Asian, and people of color in the screen industries in Canada.

Williams stressed the significance of E.D.I. in the industry, not only as a moral imperative but also as a profitable strategy. She emphasized the need to include diverse voices and perspectives to create content that resonates with a global audience.

Reflecting on her own experiences growing up as a Black woman in Canada, Williams underscored the importance of representation on screen. She recalled the lack of diversity in the media during her early career and emphasized the progress that has been made while acknowledging that there is still work to be done.

Despite finding success in the U.S., Williams chose to establish Reelworld in Canada, citing the country’s diversity and openness as key factors. She expressed admiration for Canada’s efforts to foster inclusivity and unity, acknowledging that there is always room for improvement.

As Williams continues her advocacy work in the entertainment industry, her commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion remains unwavering. Through Reelworld, she continues to champion underrepresented voices and pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable future in Canadian media.

Tonya Williams is a Canadian actor and activist best known for her role as Dr. Olivia Barber Winters on The Young and The Restless. Born in London, England, Williams moved to Canada at a young age and began her acting career in the 1970s. She founded Reelworld in 2000 with the aim of supporting Black, Indigenous, Asian, and people of color in the Canadian entertainment industry. Throughout her career, Williams has been a vocal advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion in the media. She continues to inspire change and push for representation in the industry.