Latest NewsEsta Spalding, Mary Young Leckie among WIFT-T Crystal Award honourees

Esta Spalding, Mary Young Leckie among WIFT-T Crystal Award honourees

Former TIFF VP Maxine Bailey, Cinefest Sudbury executive director Tammy Frick, Solo Productions producer Mary Young Leckie, Oya Media Group co-founder Alison Duke, writer/producer/showrunner Esta Spalding, and Ontario Creates program consultant Kim Gibson are this year’s Women in Film & Television – Toronto (WIFT-T) Crystal Awards honourees.

The Crystal Awards, established in 1988, are WIFT-T’s annual tribute to those who’ve made significant contributions to Canada’s screen-based media industry.

“The six women we are celebrating this year are incredibly dynamic,” said Karen Bruce,
Executive Director at WIFT-T, in a release. “What unites this year’s honourees is a commitment to mentoring and an innate instinct for spotting talent and empowering others to bring and be their best. Collectively, they have influenced, supported, educated, mentored, and advocated for their peers and the future of this industry. We are also thrilled to return the International Achievement Award; Canadian women are not only making a mark national but also on a global scale. It is our absolute pleasure to recognize and
celebrate their many accomplishments.”

Mary Young Leckie, Creative Producer, Solo Productions

Mary Young Leckie

Young Leckie is a creative producer with over 70 hours of scripted content to her credit. Her most recent feature Maudie – a Canada-Ireland co-production starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke – was awarded seven Canadian Screen Awards including Best Feature Film.





Kim Gibson, Program Consultant, Ontario Creates

Kim Gibson

Gibson is a veteran of the interactive
digital media industry, boasting more than 20 years experience working with content creators through her role at Ontario Creates. Since 1999, she has designed and operated highly sought-after programs that have contributed to the growth of the province’s IDM industry, most
notably the Interactive Digital Media Fund which funds concept development, production, international business and audience
development activities for a variety of projects from video games to web series.


Esta Spalding, Writer, Producer, Showrunner

Esta Spalding

Spalding is an award-winning showrunner, screenwriter, children’s author and poet. She’s currently the executive producer and showrunner on Showtime’s On Becoming a God in Central Florida, starring Kirsten Dunst. She’s also worked on Showtime’s Masters of Sex and FX’s The Bridge. Boston-born, Spalding moved to Toronto in her teens and eventually settled in Vancouver where she worked as a story editor and writer on numerous shows. She’s also penned independent features Falling Angels, and the upcoming adaptation of Jojo Moyes’ The Last Letter From Your Lover. She currently has an overall development deal with Sony Pictures.

Alison Duke, Co-Founder, Oya Media Group

Alison Duke

Duke is an artistic activist and established Goldelox Productions to produce social issue content. In 2016, she produced the Akua Benjamin Legacy Project, a digital web series which celebrates the legacies of Toronto-based Black activists. Inspired by Ava Duvernay, #metoo and the reality that opportunities for women behind the camera in Canada are long overdue, Duke hired five Black female Canadian directors to helm the films. Recently, she co-wrote and co-produced television documentary Mr. Jane and Finch for CBC Docs POV, and directed Cool Black North, a two-hour television documentary for CityTV/Rogers. Duke is also involved in Black Youth! Pathway2Industry, a three-year initiative supporting
access to training, mentors, networks and film industry spaces.

Tammy Frick, Executive Director, Cinéfest Sudbury
International Film Festival

Tammy Frick

During Frick’s 25-year tenure as executive director, Cinéfest has developed into a full-service film organization with an eye for uncovering emerging talent.

In 2007, Frick led the development and introduction of Laugh Out Loud Sudbury
Comedy Festival (LOL). Aside from providing access to stand-up comedy, LOL carried
out a first of its kind live simulcast of an onstage performance by Jason Alexander in
over 60 Cineplex theatres throughout Canada. She is also a founding member of Music and Film in Motion, which had a mandate to foster the development, growth and sustainability of Northern Ontario’s music, film and television production industries. In 2012, she was approached to manage its transition into Cultural Industries Ontario North (CION), where she holds the role of Associate Executive Director, overseeing both MFM and LOL, and seeks to promote and foster ongoing expansion of the film and television production sector of Northern Ontario.

Maxine Bailey, Cultural Maven

maxine bailey

Bailey is deeply committed to advocacy and taking action when it comes to gender parity in the Canadian film industry. As former Vice-President of Advancement at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Bailey’s leadership and vision created critical opportunities for women in film and raised awareness about the systemic barriers facing women filmmakers, script writers and producers.

In 2017, she created Share Her Journey, a five-year strategic fundraising and
awareness-raising initiative to invest in the next generation of women filmmakers. Bailey also serves on the boards of The Academy, The Walrus, and
Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund (OCAF).

The 2019 Crystal Award honourees were nominated by WIFT-T members and selected
by a jury of past winners: Deb Day, CEO and chief strategist at Innovate By Day (Digital
Trailblazer, 2018); Dr. Carol Whiteman, producer and co-creator of Women in the
Director’s Chair (Mentorship, 2011); and Tonya Williams, founder of ReelWorld Film
Festival (Special Jury Award of Distinction, 2017).

The 32nd annual WIFT-T Crystal Awards Gala, hosted by CBC Radio 2 weekend host Shakura S’Aida, will take place on Dec. 3 in Toronto. Tickets (individual and tables) are available via Eventbrite.

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Connie Thiessen
Connie Thiessen
Connie has worked coast-to-coast as a reporter, editor, anchor and host at CKNW and News 1130 in Vancouver, News 95.7 and CBC in Halifax, and CFCW Edmonton, among other stations. With a passion for music, film and community service, she led News 95.7 to a 2013 Atlantic Journalism Award and regional RTDNA award for Best Radio Newscast. More recently, she was nominated for Music Journalist of the Year at Canadian Music Week 2019. To report a typo or error please email -

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