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WATCH: Tonya Lee Williams Shares How She's Boosting BIPOC Voices of Canadian Creatives

The Young and the Restless alum Tonya Lee Williams (ex-Dr. Olivia Barber Hastings Winters) sat down with Global News Canada's The Morning Show. The actress, who holds Canadian, British, and American citizenship, discussed how she is amplifying the creative voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in Canada by founding the Reelworld Film Festival, celebrating its twentieth year.

Of starting her seminal role as the good doctor, Williams recalled:

I remember when I stared Y&R, I had never seen a soap opera before, so I was not aware of the impact the show had internationally. And the first day on set, I started, I think, at 4:30 in the morning. It was dark outside and [I was] just trying to find my way to the studio, but it’s weird now, thinking back on it, because I had zero perspective to how I see the show now. It was a great, key thing that happened in my career, absolutely, and it launched everything else, really….

She added:

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I’m so proud of the team that we’ve worked with over the years, as we thought we could just start a film festival, but we also became a film festival. It was a training ground because I couldn’t find the people of color back then, 20 years ago, who were programmers, who were arts administrators, who were in marketing and publicity, so it was a big part of Reelworld, as well, that we were a training ground for that.

Williams has pioneered Access Reelworld, a database of BIPOC professionals in the entertainment industry in Canada. She commented:

It’s doing really well. We’ve only been around now for four weeks and it’s been fantastic.

Watch the full discussion below.