For the past forty years, Tonya has worked in many facets of the artistic community: as a classical musician; as an actor; a director; and a producer, winning numerous awards and - since 2001 - overseeing all aspects of Reelworld. She believes that giving underserved BIPOC (Canadian Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) voices the power to tell their truth from their unique experiences is vital to creating stronger and more compassionate communities. Over the years, Tonya has initiated year-round youth and seniors programs, professional development for filmmakers, and nurtured a supportive and collaborative network for artists of colour. She splits her time between Toronto and Los Angeles.
Founder & Executive Artistic Director
Emily-Jane Williams joined the Reelworld team in 2017. She is a Toronto based arts professional with over 13 years experience in development, marketing, research writing, and program development. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in both English and Sociology from the University of Toronto. Her past positions include Marketing and Development at SpringWorks Indie Theatre and Arts Festival, Marketing consultant at Cindy Tanas Actors Studio, Program Coordinator and English Teacher with the Korean Ministry of Education. Originally hailing from Trinidad and Tobago, she strongly believes in the importance of multiple narratives and diverse storytelling.
Rodrigo started with Reelworld in 2003 as Marketing & Office Manager, becoming the Finance & Operations Manager 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.
Rodrigo Diaz Varela
Suri Parmar is a Toronto-based storyteller whose creative output ranges from short films to speculative fiction. She is an alumna of the Canadian Film Centre, the Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing, and the Reyjkjavík Talent Lab, and her films have screened around the world. In 2018, she accepted a visiting assistant professorship at Ryerson University’s School of Image Arts, where she taught film production and screenwriting and helped adjudicate national and international film initiatives that include Telefilm Canada’s Talent to Watch Program and the CILECT PRIZE. Currently, she is writing a fantasy feature film that she plans on directing.
Gesilayefa Azorbo is a Toronto-based creative hyphenate (writer, photographer, filmmaker and film festival multitasker) with an abiding love of music, film, TV and literature. Her creative work explores themes related to creativity and identity. As a photographer and a filmmaker she loves to shoot creative portraits and profiles of artists in their element, including her documentary "Indie Womyn" profiling Juno-nominated Toronto artist Alysha Brilla. Her film festival work ranges from programming at Planet In Focus, to Industry at Hot Docs, with earlier stints as a student programmer for Images Festival, and Critics Panel member for Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival.
Rosie graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History and Biology and holds a Certificate in Art and Design from George Brown College. She is an engaging public speaker, interdisciplinary thinker, and creative problem solver. Rosie is thrilled to be joining Reelworld as the Events Project Coordinator. Previously, Rosie worked as an Educator and Farmer at Toronto’s largest Food Justice non-profit, FoodShare. She brings years of customer service and experience in event coordination through roles in Toronto’s fast-paced service industry. Born and raised in Sarnia, Ontario, Rosie is a proud member of the Abenaki Nation.
Event & Project Coordinator
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.
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.
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.
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!.
Barbara Mamabolo has been working in the Canadian entertainment industry for the past 20 years, having started in the business as a young actor. Over the years, she has taken on various roles in front of and behind the camera including filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, associate producer, editor, content creator and now - Program and Project Coordinator at Reelworld. Barbara earned an Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in Cinema Studies and Sociology and a Master’s degree in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto and was awarded the Atom Egoyan Scholarship. Barbara strongly believes that film has the power to facilitate social change and couldn’t be more excited to support and elevate BIPOC talent in her position at Reelworld.
Program and Project Coordinator
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.