Monday, October 2, 2023

Tonya Williams, Director X among 2023 Legacy Awards honourees

The first four recipients of this year’s Legacy Awards, celebrating Black Canadian talent, have been announced, including actress and Reelworld Film Festival founder Tonya Williams; filmmaker Julien Christian Lutz (aka Director X); platinum-selling artist Jully Black; and Congolese-Canadian singer LU KALA.

The second-annual awards show, to be hosted by Keshia Chanté, will take place on Sept. 24 at Live Nation Canada’s HISTORY in Toronto and air on CBC and CBC Gem.

Jully Black

JUNO Award winner Jully Black will receive the Icon Award. A platinum-selling singer, motivational speaker, actress, entrepreneur, and fitness leader, Black’s philanthropic work has taken her across North America and to villages from Bangladesh to South Africa. She has written songs for industry heavyweights including Nas and Destiny’s Child and performed alongside artists including Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Elton John, and Jessie Reyez.


LU KALA will receive the Emerging Artist Award. Redefining what a pop star sounds and looks like, between her debut EP WorthyPretty Girl Era, and additional singles, LU KALA has amassed more than 72 million streams. Pretty Girl Era spent 15 weeks in the top 15 of Top 40 radio in Canada, peaking at #10, and has inspired more than 312K UGC (user-generated content) videos. At the age of three, the singer’s family emigrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Canada.

Director X

Julien Christian Lutz will receive the Trailblazer Award. The sought-after music video director, known for his work with Drake, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, and Kendrick Lamar, has gone on to become the creator, showrunner, and executive producer of the highly- anticipated Robyn Hood, an urban re-telling of the classic tale, making its debut this fall on Global TV. Lutz is known to use his platform for social change and founded Operation Prefrontal Cortex, an initiative created to reduce gun violence in Toronto through mindfulness and meditation.

Tonya Williams

Tonya Williams will receive the Visionary Award. The actress, activist, and producer, who has worked in the entertainment industry for 48 years, is best known for her 19 years starring on daytime drama The Young & The Restless as Dr. Olivia Winters. She’s also the founder and executive director of Reelworld Screen Institute, Reelworld Film Festival, and Reelworld Foundation, which aims to increase opportunities, access, and inclusion for Black, Indigenous, Asian, and People of Colour in the screen industries in Canada. Born in London, England to Jamaican parents, Williams emigrated to Canada in 1970.

“Honouring Jully, Tonya, X, and LU is a no brainer for The Legacy Awards,” said Shamier Anderson, co-founder of The Black Academy and executive producer of The Legacy Awards. “This year’s recipients all perfectly embody what we stand for: they epitomize Black excellence and are at the top of their game in their respective fields.”

“Our priority is to showcase Black talent and to share the remarkable achievements of our community with the entire country – especially young Canadians – so that they can be inspired by these exceptional role models,” added co-founder Stephan James, also an executive producer of the awards show.

Voting for the Fan Choice Digital Content Creator Award opens Sept. 1. The award allows fans to choose their favourite Black-identifying Canadian digital content creators, with the winner to be announced during The Legacy Awards broadcast.

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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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