For the past 20 years Tonya has been overseeing the vision and day to day operations of Reelworld Film Festival and Reelworld Screen Institute.  Born in London, England to Jamaican parents, she has been working in the Canadian and USA entertainment industry for the past forty-five years, as an actress, producer, director and writer.  She has been nominated for two Emmy Awards and won two NAACP Image Awards, ACTRA Award of Excellence, WIFT Crystal Award, Harry Jerome Award and others.  She works and lives between Los Angeles and Toronto. Since starting in the entertainment industry Tonya's one goal has been to use the screen platform to correct the historical stories of racialized communities and to present more positive representation of Canadian Black, Indigenous, People of Colour in authentic storytelling.  She currently sits on the Telefilm Inclusion & Diversity Group and the Canadian Media Fund Black Leaders Group, both with the goal of creating more access and diversity in the Canadian entertainment industry above and below the line.

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Tonya Williams

Founder & Executive / Artistic Director

Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Emily-Jane Williams is a Toronto based arts professional and University of Toronto graduate with over 14 years experience in development, marketing, research writing, and program development. A strong believer in the importance of multiple narratives and diverse storytelling, Emily-Jane joined Reelworld in 2017 to further her goal of building inclusivity and dismantling racism in the arts. As Development Director, Emily-Jane works closely with the Executive Director and Board of Directors to oversee and develop fundraising activities including sponsorship marketing, partnership development, and project, capital, operation grants to support diverse Canadian storytellers and the Reelworld mission.  

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Emily-Jane Williams

Development Director

Alison has built a 20-year career in media and the arts, starting in advertising and digital media and eventually extending her communications skillset to commercial production while working for top Canadian Broadcasters including CTV and Corus Entertainment. As a Humber College graduate of Advertising and Graphic Design, Alison brings an in-depth and tactical understanding of the delivery of messages. Most recently, after starting a Skincare Business (Room 100 Skincare) and returning to York University to complete a degree in Communication Studies, Alison has provided consulting services to small businesses with a focus on defining and structuring communications that support their business objectives. With a desire to help underserved communities Alison has sat on the Board of Directors for Tangled Arts (formerly Abilities Art Festival) where she facilitated the rebrand of the organization. As Communications Director at Reelworld Alison developes and oversees the communication plans for partnerships, outreach, and media awareness.

Alison Cosgrove

Communications Director

Rodrigo started with Reelworld in 2003 as Marketing & Office Manager, becoming the Finance & Operations Coordinator in 2005, and earning his present role as Finance Manager in 2006. He is a Certified Management Accountant, and holds an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University. As an immigrant from Argentina, Rodrigo’s work at Reelworld aligns with his passion for film as a tool to bring communities together. He is also the Associate Vice President for Marketing Strategic Initiatives & Automotive Promotional Planning at Canadian Tire.

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Rodrigo Diaz Varela

Finance Manager

Barbara Mamabolo

Programming Manager

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Marina Hanna

Programmer

Reza Sameni

Programmer

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Aisha Evelyna

Programmer

Born to Canadian parents of Caribbean descent, Aisha is passionate about bringing stories of the underrepresented to the forefront of our social purview. She is an actor, writer, and filmmaker who holds a BA with specialized honours in Theatre from York  University. Recent Film/ TV and Theatre appearances include CBC’s “Working Moms”, “Murdoch Mysteries", and The Canadian Premiere of Sarah DeLappe’s critically acclaimed play “The Wolves”. Aisha has just wrapped her second short film ShoeGazer, the 2018 Selection for the Toronto ACTRA Women’s Committee’s Film Creation Lab which she wrote, starred and co-produced. 

Jordan Smith-St. Kitts

Digital Operations Coordinator

Jordan Smith-St Kitts is a graduate of the Television Broadcasting at Seneca College. I've started to take a high interest in the Audio side of Production and Post Production.  "I like to refer myself as an artist at times. More specifically an artist with the interest of beat making. I enjoy video editing, and am always interested to take on new and exciting opportunities. This year I have gotten a wonderful opportunity to get a chance to work for the Reelworld film festival. I've enjoyed every moment and can't wait to assist again next year!"

Nasiche Taylor

Bookkeeper

For the past 20 years Tonya has been overseeing the vision and day to day operations of Reelworld Film Festival and Reelworld Screen Institute.  Born in London, England to Jamaican parents, she has been working in the Canadian and USA entertainment industry for the past forty-five years, as an actress, producer, director and writer.  She has been nominated for two Emmy Awards and won two NAACP Image Awards, ACTRA Award of Excellence, WIFT Crystal Award, Harry Jerome Award and others.  She works and lives between Los Angeles and Toronto. Since starting in the entertainment industry Tonya's one goal has been to use the screen platform to correct the historical stories of racialized communities and to present more positive representation of Canadian Black, Indigenous, People of Colour in authentic storytelling.  She currently sits on the Telefilm Inclusion & Diversity Group and the Canadian Media Fund Black Leaders Group, both with the goal of creating more access and diversity in the Canadian entertainment industry above and below the line.

tonya-photo-small-2.png

Tonya Williams

Founder & Executive / Artistic Director

Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Emily-Jane Williams is a Toronto based arts professional and University of Toronto graduate with over 14 years experience in development, marketing, research writing, and program development. A strong believer in the importance of multiple narratives and diverse storytelling, Emily-Jane joined Reelworld in 2017 to further her goal of building inclusivity and dismantling racism in the arts. As Development Director, Emily-Jane works closely with the Executive Director and Board of Directors to oversee and develop fundraising activities including sponsorship marketing, partnership development, and project, capital, operation grants to support diverse Canadian storytellers and the Reelworld mission.  

emily-photo-small-2.png

Emily-Jane Williams

Development Director

Alison Cosgrove

Communications Director

Alison has built a 20-year career in media and the arts, starting in advertising and digital media and eventually extending her communications skillset to commercial production while working for top Canadian Broadcasters including CTV and Corus Entertainment. As a Humber College graduate of Advertising and Graphic Design, Alison brings an in-depth and tactical understanding of the delivery of messages. Most recently, after starting a Skincare Business (Room 100 Skincare) and returning to York University to complete a degree in Communication Studies, Alison has provided consulting services to small businesses with a focus on defining and structuring communications that support their business objectives. With a desire to help underserved communities Alison has sat on the Board of Directors for Tangled Arts (formerly Abilities Art Festival) where she facilitated the rebrand of the organization. As Communications Director at Reelworld Alison developes and oversees the communication plans for partnerships, outreach, and media awareness.

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Barbara Mamabolo

Programming Manager

Barbara Mamabolo has been working in the screen industry for over 20 years, having started in the business as a young actor. Her acting career highlights include Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, three seasons as the title character in the children’s series Zixx, two seasons of Instant Star, Star Trek: Short Treks, and working with Ethan Hawke in Robert Budreau’s Born to be Blue. Barbara worked as an associate producer on the CBC Gem series How to Buy A Baby Season I and My-90-Year-Old Roommate Season II. As a comedy writer, she worked in the writers’ room on the Season 5 of CBC’s Kim’s Convenience. Barbara holds a Master's degree in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto, for which she was awarded the Atom Egoyan Scholarship. She screens films for SXSW and Human Rights Watch Film Festival. As Programming Manager, Barbara oversees festival and year-round programming for Reelworld Film Festival and Reelworld Screen Institute.

Pahull Bains

Outreach and Marketing Manager

Born and raised in India, Pahull Bains is an experienced journalist covering film, culture, style and identity. A Columbia University graduate, she has worked in the magazine industry for over eight years, writing for publications like Vogue India, Wired, Billboard and GQ India. She moved to Toronto in 2017, and most recently worked at FASHION Magazine as their Culture & Lifestyle Editor. Having covered the entertainment industry in Canada for four years, highlighting emerging talent, inequity in the industry, and diverse storytellers, she is now bringing her passion for film to Reelworld, where she works on sponsor, industry and media outreach, as well as industry initiatives and events.

Safia Abdigir

Events and Operations Manager

An avid film lover, Safia is a Toronto-based arts culture worker specifically interested in the facilitation of diverse perspectives in the Canadian film industry, including 2SLGBTQ+ racialized identities. She worked on Home Made Visible, a nation-wide archive that digitized home videos/films to preserve the self-recorded histories of racially diverse Canadians. In 2020, the project garnered the prestigious Governor General’s Award. Her work experience includes managing events at various festivals throughout the city, including the Regent Park Film Festival. Some of her favourite films are Soleil O, Poetry, Shakedown, and Women Without Men.

Kafi Pierre

Administrative Coordinator

Kafi Pierre was born in Toronto, Canada and is a graduate of the Claude Watson Arts Program, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, and is a graduate of the Arts Administration and Cultural Management graduate program at Humber College.

Ms Pierre’s career in theater has spanned over 20 years, some of her theater credits include; “The Lion King”, “Bombay Dreams”, Cirque Du Soleil’s “Delirium” and “Dralion”, “America’s Got Talent” and “Fela! The Musical”.  Her film and television credits include; State Like Sleep (Dir Meredith Danluck), A Witches Ball (Dir. Justin G. Dyck), Good Morning America, CBC, Macy’s Day Parade, Sony Pictures, MTV, BET, Nickelodeon, ABC and NBC.

In 2015 she accepted the position of Artistic Coordinator, working alongside famed director Franco Dragone with the “The Han Show” in Wuhan, China and 2017 Kafi was the associate choreographer for critically acclaimed Paramount Theatre’s Jesus Christ Superstar in Chicago. In 2018 she joined Cirque du Soleil as an Associate Artistic Director.

Zoe Kelly
Events Project Coordinator Trainee 

Zoe Kelly is a a recent graduate from the Event Management program at Algonquin College, in Ottawa, ON. She also holds a degree from the University of Ottawa in Gender Studies and Social Work. After planning mental health events for a few years, she recently moved to Toronto to start her career as an event producer in the film festival industry. She enjoys films about current affairs, history, art and sustainability. Zoe belongs to the nation of Mi'gmaq of Gesgapegiag. 

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Marina Hanna

Programmer

Marina Hanna is a marketing-communications writer-editor and project manager in the arts & culture industry. Previously, she was a copywriter at TIFF and the managing editor of publications at Tribeca Film Festival. She currently screens films for the Human Rights Watch Film Festival and freelances for the Toronto Star. Marina holds a combined Honours Bachelor Degree in Mass Communication and Political Science from Carleton University, and a Graduate Certificate in Journalism New Media from Sheridan College.

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Reza Sameni

Programmer

Originally from Iran, Reza Sameni is a film programmer and cinematographer based in Toronto. He has supported festival programming for the JAYU’s Human Rights Film Festival, the South Western International Film Festival, the Syria Film Festival, and the Canadian Sport Film Festival. As a cinematographer, Reza has over a decade of experience working on documentaries and short films that focus on human rights, injustice, and domestic violence, several of which have been screened at many international film festivals including IDFA, Rio de Janeiro, Denver, and Rendezvous with Madness.

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Ella Cooper

Programmer

Ella is an award winning interdisciplinary artist, photographer, filmmaker, impact producer and creative facilitator based in Toronto. Ella’s creative practice explores themes of racialized identity, Canadian diaspora, reclamation, embodied landscapes, contemporary dance and representations of the Black female body in Western visual culture. Her work has been presented in galleries, public spaces, festivals and for broadcast across Canada, the US and Europe. In 2015, her film "Black Men Loving" won Best Canadian Film at the Caribbean Tales Film Festival and is one of the top featured artists on CBC Arts the Exhibitionists. She is the founder of Black Women Film!.

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Aisha Evelyna

Programmer

Born to Canadian parents of Caribbean descent, Aisha is passionate about bringing stories of the underrepresented to the forefront of our social purview. She is an actor, writer, and filmmaker who holds a BA with specialized honours in Theatre from York  University. Recent Film/ TV and Theatre appearances include CBC’s “Working Moms”, “Murdoch Mysteries", and The Canadian Premiere of Sarah DeLappe’s critically acclaimed play “The Wolves”. Aisha has just wrapped her second short film ShoeGazer, the 2018 Selection for the Toronto ACTRA Women’s Committee’s Film Creation Lab which she wrote, starred and co-produced. 

Torsum Khan

Digital Adaptation Intern

Torsum is a passionate, creative, and a result-oriented marketing professional with 6 years of experience in marketing and communications. He has a passion for working with non-profit organizations and has worked with the United Nations and the British Council in various emergency response and development programs. He has been responsible for planning and managing campaigns for education, climate change, women empowerment, and the arts. He managed a British Council flagship campaign “Home: 1947” with Academy Award Winning Director Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy for a unique immersive exhibition utilizing VR technologies. Torsum also managed the global “WOW: Women of the World” campaign in South Asia that brought forward the challenges faced by young girls and women to the mainstream media.

He is a master’s student at Ryerson University and has taken a keen interest in immersive media. His thesis focuses on using “empathy games” to interact more effectively with members of the millennial generation in terms of philanthropic behavior.

Jordan Smith-St. Kitts

Digital Operations Coordinator

Jordan Smith-St Kitts is a graduate of the Television Broadcasting at Seneca College. I've started to take a high interest in the Audio side of Production and Post Production.  "I like to refer myself as an artist at times. More specifically an artist with the interest of beat making. I enjoy video editing, and am always interested to take on new and exciting opportunities. This year I have gotten a wonderful opportunity to get a chance to work for the Reelworld film festival. I've enjoyed every moment and can't wait to assist again next year!"

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Nasiche Taylor

Bookkeeper

Nasiche Taylor is a Chartered Professional Accountant, (CPA, CMA).  Nasiche completed her designation in Toronto, ON with CPA Ontario in 2015. In 2016 Nasiche completed the Professional Bookkeeping Program with the Universal Accounting Centre.  Born in Toronto and raised in Western Canada, Nasiche has worked for the energy industry and government agencies and currently volunteers as a Financial Administrator for Kingdom Life Ministries in Mississauga.  Nasiche enjoys adventure and biopic films. Nasiche feels that film brings us a bit closer together in this great big wonderful world, and is a great way for a story to live on long afterwards. 

X Height Media

Leslie & Lisa

Festival Artwork & Program Design 

http://www.theareax.com/

Leslie and Lisa don’t see colours, they see flavours. The twin sisters are the owners and principle designers at X Height Media, where they have cultivated a diverse portfolio of projects ranging from magazine to film poster creations. They are proud to have established unique extensions of XHM including Dn’A, “words-only” glass panels and Valley of the Kings cards for the non-living.
XHM has enjoyed designing the official artwork and materials for Reelworld since 2010.

Reelworld Staff