Tonya Williams


"If your honesty loses you friends - that is a worthy sacrifice"

Actor, Producer, Director, Writer, Advocate

also Founder, Executive and Artistic Director of Reelworld Film Festival

Tonya Williams is an award-winning actress and advocate with British, Canadian and American citizenship. Born in London, England she is an only child of Justice G. Williams Q.C (deceased) and Korah Williams a retired Registered Nurse and Midwife who are both Jamaican.  When she was almost one years old her parents emigrated to New York for six months before returning to Jamaica, West Indies to set up her father’s practice. Her parents separated in 1963 (later divorced in 1974). In 1965 she and her mother returned to England and lived in Birmingham until they emigrated to Canada in May 1970 when was eleven.  Tonya’s passion for the arts was first developed with her training in classical piano and violin which she studied from the ages of five to seventeen. During high school she was the only student chosen to represent her school at the Ontario Music Leadership Camp. It was while at high school that a chance meeting with a casting director Karen Hazzard led to her booking a national ‘wear a moustache’ milk campaign and other tv commercials.  After high school she auditioned and landed a place in the drama program at Ryerson University.  Her first job after Ryerson was to star as ‘Billy’ in Mavor Moore’s stage musical ‘Love and Politics’. That led to numerous acting roles in film and television in Toronto.  After a season starring on the sitcom Check It Out, she decided to move to Los Angeles in 1988 where she guest starred in several roles before landing the coveted role of Olivia Barber Hastings Winters on The Young and The Restless from 1990 – 2011.  During her time at Y&R she was also involved in a number of initiatives for human rights and social justice. In 1995 she was in Rwanda on a Peace Mission for World Vision.

In 2001 Tonya founded and is executive director of Reelworld Film Festival, based in Toronto.  The festival’s mandate is to create opportunities and professional development for racially diverse and indigenous Canadian filmmakers and media artists.

In 2018 she was invited to speak in Ottawa at the Canadian Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs on the importance of diversity in regards to Culture Diplomacy.

Tonya continues to act and is developing projects through her Wilbo Entertainment Inc. production company, but her passion for launching diverse emerging Canadian talent through her film festival has been her priority in recent years.  She has won numerous awards not only for her acting but for her advocacy work for artists of colour in the Canadian entertainment industry. She splits her time between Los Angeles and Toronto.

Tonya Williams wikipedia

Tonya Williams IMBD