Tonya is two time Emmy nominated and two time NAACP Image winner with an over 40 year career in the entertainment industry working in many facets of the artistic community. She started out as a young classical pianist; then actor; a director; and a producer, winning numerous awards. She currently oversees all aspects of Reelworld. She believes that giving underserved Canadian Black, Indigenous, Asian, South Asian, Middle Eastern and Latinx 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 has become a powerful activist for the importance of inclusion and diversity of racially diverse professionals in the Canadian entertainment industry. She splits her time between Toronto and Los Angeles.
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.
Rodrigo Diaz Varela
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.
Programming and Industry Initiatives Manager
Suri manages Reelworld's screenings and year-round industry initiatives. She has a background in screenwriting, architectural design, and creative writing and has helped adjudicate national and international initiatives that include the CILECT PRIZE and Telefilm Canada's Talent to Watch program, and currently teaches part time script writing at an undergraduate level. Through working at Reelworld, she hopes to bring racially and culturally diverse stories to the forefront and help establish a new metric of storytelling that challenges the status quo.
Digital, Interactive Industry and Operations Manager
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.
Partnerships, Events, and Social Media Coordinator
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.
Community Development and Marketing Coordinator
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.
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.
Latasha is a Ryerson University graduate with a BA in professional communications who is joining the Reelworld team to help build their social media presence and maintain their communications outreach. She understands the importance of reaching an audience, communicating a message, and determining the best way to do so. Communication can be considered the core of not just any company, but in many other facets of life. She has a passion for helping to make use of the varying modes and channels that best suit each situation and crafting assets to help accomplish company targets.
Brandon McDonald has a passion for all things creative. He is a graduate from Sheridan College with a Diploma in Advertising and Marketing Communications. Brandon’s experience includes creating and launching a successful online presence in music production using various social media platforms including as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Google. Brandon has a proven ability to utilize marketing strategies to analyze content and increase performance while using these mediums. Driven by his passion, creativity and knowledge, Brandon looks forward to contributing to the world of innovative marketing. Born in Toronto to Caribbean parents, Brandon embraces his heritage. As a part of his brand, Brandon incorporates Caribbean culture in his visuals, sounds and overall presentation.
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.
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!.
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.
X Height Media
Leslie & Lisa
Festival Artwork & Program Design
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.
Digital Media Coordinator
Mike Regis is an extremely passionate storyteller who seeks to find the humanity in human relationships in every narrative he creates through his work as a filmmaker. Through his hardships as a person of colour, Mike has chosen to use these experiences to fuel the stories that he creates. And as a leader in his community, his goal is to create stories that are authentic and real.