Tonya Lee Williams receives prestigious African Canadian Achievement Award
Date: Thursday, May 24 @ 19:38:22 MST
Topic: Black Habits Articles


On Saturday May 19, 2007, actor, director, producer, writer and activist Tonya Lee Williams received the prestigious African Canadian Achievement Award for her numerous contributions to the North American arts community. The awards are one of the most-anticipated premiere events for African Canadians, fostering a sense of pride and a spirit of dignity within the community.

“Based on her sparkling credentials as a high-octane achiever who has risen to lofty heights in the entertainment industry, Tonya Lee Williams is aptly qualified to receive the African Canadian Achievement Awards’ Excellence in Arts/Entertainment honour,” says Michael Van Cooten, the founder, chair and chief executive officer of the ACAA.

“Because of the many obstacles and challenges she has had to overcome on her rise to stardom, Tonya clearly demonstrates that one’s altitude in life is truly directly related to their attitude, and we are proud to number her among our long and illustrious list of award recipients,” adds Van Cooten. “In this entertainment icon, our youth certainly has a successful role model worthy of emulation.”

Williams is best known for her 15 years starring as Dr. Olivia Winters on the daytime drama The Young and the Restless. The role garnered her two NAACP Image Awards, two Daytime Emmy nominations, a Harry Jerome Award, the 2005 ACTRA Award of Excellence and others.

She is also the founder, president and executive director of ReelWorld Film Festival and ReelWorld Foundation, which she started in 2001. ReelWorld is dedicated to promoting the excellence and achievement of emerging diversity in film, video, and new media.

"I believe that all children are born for excellence" said Williams in the opening remarks in her acceptance speech. "Our job is to remind them that they are empowered beings with unlimited potential, able to create their own destinies."

Williams, still passionate about acting, recently starred alongside Danny Glover in Clement Virgo’s film Poor Boy’s Game. The film had its world premiere earlier this year at the Berlin International Film Festival to rave reviews, and there are plans to release it to North American audiences by Fall 2007.

Williams is also the president and founder of Toronto-based production company Wilbo Entertainment which has already produced two television productions and is in development for its first feature film.

Splitting her time between Toronto, Los Angeles, New Mexico and Paris, Williams explained that "as artists, we sometimes feel that we're working in a vacuum and forget that there is even an audience who might be appreciating the work - receiving this award reminds me who my work is really for."

For her diligence in creating more opportunities for emerging Canadian talent in the entertainment industry, Toronto Mayor David Miller appointed Williams to sit on the Toronto Film Board.

Founded in 1985, the ACAA celebrates the achievements, and pays tribute to the exemplary contributions of African Canadians to their community, and the wider Canadian society. The ACAA also acts as a catalyst, inspiring African Canadians of all ages and cir*****stances to pursue and attain success and excellence in their lives.

ACAA was founded by its current Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson, Michael Van Cooten, who is also the editor and publisher of Pride News Magazine. It is organized and hosted annually by Pride News Magazine, under the stewardship of Joan Pierre, the executive producer of the awards.





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