Tonya Williams is leading the mission to diversify Canada’s screen-based industries with the new database, Access Reelworld. Launched summer 2020, the database is creating access and inclusion for Black, Indigenous, Asian, South Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American creatives and communities in the Canadian entertainment industry.
With the intention to correct the lack of representation of people of colour in the film and television industry, Tonya wants to open up these spaces to create and strengthen opportunities for racially diverse creatives both in front and behind the camera.
Courtesy of Access Reelworld
“Since founding Reelworld in 2000 it has been my desire to have a national database. You have to know where the talent is to be able to hire them. I created Access Reelworld as the platform for Black, Indigenous, People of Colour creatives to be in one place where not only can the Canadian industry find them, but the USA and International productions can find and hire our great diverse talent. We have many co-production treaties and many of those countries are struggling with their own diversity issues. Canada and Access Reelworld can be the shining example of how other countries can improve their diversity hires. I say to all our Canadian racially diverse talent, it’s up to you now. The ball is in your court. You have to sign up so that the industry can find you!”
In a matter of a few weeks, the database has already been populated with over 500 names of people of colour working in departments like costume design, cinematography, and animation, where current and upcoming productions can reach out to fill roles on their teams.
Tonya is no stranger to driving social change in the industry. This year marks the 20th year of Reelworld Film Festival and Reelscreen Institute, incubators and champions of diverse filmmakers. Access Reelworld is rather an antidote to the lack of diversity and representation Tonya found in the industry. With optimism, Tonya believes the changing narrative for Canadian Black, Indigenous and people of colour can catalyze change in how the Canadian motion picture industry operates.
Access Reelworld is owned by Reelworld Film Festival and Reelworld Foundation also known as Reelworld Screen Institute. To find out more visit www.reelworld.ca