Toronto, ON—October 10, 2023—Women+ in Film & Television (WIFT+ Toronto) and a dedicated jury of industry executives have named the six recipients to be honoured at the 36th Annual Crystal Awards Gala on November 22, 2023, at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Downtown Toronto.
The Crystal Awards, established in 1988, is WIFT Toronto’s annual tribute gala to individuals making significant contributions to the Canadian and international screen-based media industry. Since its inception over three and a half decades ago, more than 175 esteemed individuals have been recognized for their excellence in creativity, innovation, leadership, and commitment to mentoring the next generation of industry creators and leaders.
Honourees of the 2023 Crystal Awards Gala are:
- Creative Excellence – Marilyn Denis, Radio/TV Broadcaster
- International Achievement – Missy Peregrym, Actress
- Innovation Trailblazer – Neishaw Ali, Founding Partner, President, and Executive Producer, SPIN VFX
- Mentorship – Margot Daley, Unscripted Producer, Series Producer, Director, and Senior Story Editor
- Outstanding Achievement in Business – Victoria Harding, Executive Director, Directors Guild of Canada – Ontario
- Jury Award of Distinction – Catherine Tait, President and CEO, CBC/Radio-Canada
“This industry has seen much change over the last 36 years and WIFT+ Toronto has had a front row seat to see it all, that is what makes our annual gala a leading touchstone event; it allows us a chance to take a well deserved moment to applaud the trendsetters and champions of change that push our industry forward,” said Karen Bruce, Executive Director, WIFT+ Toronto. “On behalf of our organization, I want to thank our generous sponsors, respected jury, and of course congratulate this year’s six admirable honourees.”
CREATIVE EXCELLENCE – MARILYN DENIS
Marilyn Denis is one of the most fun-loving—and quite honestly, one of the nicest people in broadcasting. In 2023, Marilyn announced she would bid adieu as host of the popular Canadian Screen Award-winning series The Marilyn Denis Show, following 13 incredible seasons on CTV and a 34-year career of daily daytime television. Throughout her years on television, Canada’s Queen of Daytime always placed her fans at the centre of it all, as she provided a unique blend of entertainment and topical lifestyle information to viewers across the country weekday mornings.
Marilyn first began her television career by reporting on sports, weather, and entertainment at CFCN-TV (CTV Calgary) and working as a freelance reporter for TSN. Marilyn also shared hosting duties on Bravo!’s Gemini Award-winning concert series Live at the Rehearsal Hall and was host of the popular daily show Cityline for nearly 20 years.
Formerly co-host of Roger & Marilyn, the veteran radio broadcaster now hosts Marilyn Denis and Jamar, weekday mornings on Toronto’s CHUM 104.5. A dominating presence in Toronto radio and Canadian television, Marilyn’s quick wit, connection with her audience, and charm have made her a much-beloved figure.
INTERNATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT – MISSY PEREGRYM
Having endeared herself with audiences with her feature film debut as the rebellious gymnast star in the film Stick It, Missy Peregrym has continued to develop herself as a successful actress in film and television. Peregrym reminded audiences that she is both tough and vulnerable, starring as rookie cop Andy for six seasons on ABC’s successful series, Rookie Blue. Currently she stars as FBI Special Agent, Maggie Bell, on FBI, Dick Wolfe’s much loved drama series for CBS. Chronicling the inner workings of the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the show, which premiered Fall 2018, the drama continues to be a huge hit for CBS, and has spawned two spin offs.
In 2018, Peregrym reprised her role as a series regular on the Syfy drama, Van Helsing. Peregrym’s character, Scarlett Harker—a woman with a mysterious past who might help turn the tide against the vampires—was introduced in the second season of the vampire cult favorite.
In 2014, Peregrym starred alongside Eric Balfour and Jeff Roup in the adventure thriller, Back Country. Based on a true story, Peregrym portrays Jenn, an urbanite who goes on a camping trip in the woods with her boyfriend and finds themselves in the territory of a predatory Black Bear. The film made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival.
In 2012, Peregrym appeared in Yahoo’s first digitally released movie Cybergeddon, starring as Chloe Jocelyn, an agent investigating a series of seemingly unrelated cyber-attacks. Cybergeddon debuted exclusively in over 25 countries and 10 languages on Yahoo!
Peregrym, a native of Canada, was honored in 2010 at the Toronto International Film Festival as one of Playback’s Top Ten to Watch for her accomplishment and talent as an actress. Her title will be remembered in the Canadian Film and Television Hall of Fame. Other memorable TV credits include her starring role in The CW’s Reaper; the illusive ‘Candace’ in Heroes; and the sarcastic beauty with a troubled family life in the drama Life as We Know It.
Peregrym began her career in modeling when she was 18. Her print advertisements soon led to commercials for Mercedes Benz, Sprint Canada, and the Olympics. The campaigns caught the eye of casting directors, and her career quickly transitioned into acting, landing her first television role on the action-drama series Dark Angel and her feature film debut in Stick It.
Peregrym lived most of her life in Canada and currently resides in New York where they shoot FBI. Outside of acting, she is a dedicated athlete, wife, and mother.
INNOVATION TRAILBLAZER – NEISHAW ALI
As a founding Partner, President and Executive Producer of SPIN VFX, Neishaw Ali has been working in the film and television industry for almost 30 years. Her visionary launch of BRIO, a cloud & licensed subscription-based AR, VR & 3D platform, was sold to Adobe in 2022.
Neishaw’s creativity and leadership have produced an expansive body of work including over 150 feature films and 32+ television series. Her television credits include the Emmy Award-winning series Game of Thrones (HBO), Emmy nominated show The Umbrella Academy (Netflix), Midnight Mass (Netflix), and Foundation (Apple TV+). Neishaw’s film credits include the Academy Award-winning biopic Spotlight (First Look), Escape Room 2: Tournament of Champions (Columbia Pictures), Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Antman and The Wasp: Quantumania (Marvel), and Big George Foreman (Sony Pictures).
Neishaw has a history of supporting the local film and television industry and currently sits on the board of the Canadian Film Centre (CFC) and chairs the CFC Programming and Innovation Committee. She is also on the Mayor’s Economic Advisory Panel and previously co-chaired the Toronto Film, Television & Digital Media Panel and sits on the board of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. Neishaw plays a pivotal role on international film boards and committees, such as the Visual Effects Society (VES) Board of Directors and its subcommittees, Visual Effects Society Health & Wellbeing and the Visual Effects Society Education Committee where she initiated a peer-to-peer mentoring program in 2021 which has positively impacted over 300 visual effects artists as of 2023. Neishaw is also a founding partner of sister company Jaxx Creative.
MENTORSHIP – MARGOT DALEY
Margot is an award-winning Unscripted Producer, Series Producer, Director, and Senior Story Editor with over 30 years of industry experience in Toronto and Vancouver.
Beginning her career in news and Current affairs, Margot honed her skills as a chase producer for CTV’s flagship morning series, Canada AM, before branching out into the emerging world of independent television.
Over the years, she’s had the privilege of working in virtually every area of the unscripted industry, from development to post and at the broadcaster level as a Production Executive. Her producing and directing experience has taken her across Canada and worldwide, including Vietnam for Global’s series Body and Health, Europe for Kimberly Seldon’s design series Style at Home, and Africa for Discovery Channels series Rogue Nature.
During her five years as a Production Executive at Corus, Margot helped to develop and launch several series like Come to Dine with Me Canada, Million Dollar Critic, Game of Homes, and Million Dollar Neighbourhood for W Network and OWN Network Canada.
Her most recent credits include series producing the Canadian Screen Award-winning best history doc series Secrets of the Underground Railroad for Science Channel and Discovery Canada, Lead Story Editor for CBC’s premium documentary Enslaved, hosted by Samuel L Jackson, Consulting Producer for CBC’s Black Life and Senior Producer for CBC/BBC’s co-pro music documentary in production, The Big Payback, executive produced by Idris Elba.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN BUSINESS – VICTORIA HARDING
Victoria Harding is the Executive Director of the Directors Guild of Canada – Ontario (DGC Ontario). In this role, Victoria leads a team of employees dedicated to improving the lives of DGC Ontario’s 3,800+ Members, and she acts as Ontario’s Lead Negotiator for the DGC/CMPA Standard Agreement.
Victoria has more than three decades of experience “on the floor” as both a Location Manager and Production Manager. Her direct experience in the industry has informed her labour relations career, given her understanding of the unique challenges faced by film and television professionals.
In addition to her career-long commitment to the Directors Guild of Canada, Victoria is also an active and respected member of Ontario’s film and television industry. She contributes to the growth and expansion of Ontario’s production ecosystem via her work on various committees, advisory panels and working groups, notably as a Board Member of both FilmOntario and the City of Toronto’s Film, Television and Digital Media Advisory Board.
JURY AWARD OF DISTINCTION – CATHERINE TAIT
Catherine Tait was first appointed President and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada on April 3, 2018, for a five-year term. She began her mandate on July 3, 2018. On June 1, 2023, her mandate was renewed until January 3, 2025. Catherine is also the Chair of the Global Task Force for Public Media, an initiative of the Public Media Alliance launched in September 2019.
As President and CEO, Catherine is responsible for overseeing the management of CBC/Radio-Canada to ensure that Canada’s national public broadcaster can deliver on the various aspects of its mandate and continue to offer Canadians a broad spectrum of high-quality programming that informs, enlightens and entertains, and that is created by, for and about Canadians.
Prior to her appointment, Catherine co-founded New York-based Duopoly Inc, an independent film, television and digital content company, which she led as President from 2002 to 2018. She also co-founded iThentic, a digital content company, in 2006 and Hollywood Suite in 2010, a broadcasting company in Canada. Catherine was also previously the President and COO of Salter Street Films from 1997 to 2001. She has experience working for the Government of Canada as Director and Cultural Attaché with the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris, and as Manager of Policy and Planning for Telefilm Canada where her passion for Canadian film and television content was ignited. She’s been a member of a number of industry-specific boards including Comweb Group, DHX Media LTD, Hollywood Suite (which she co-founded), iThentic Inc, eOne Entertainment, CHUM Ltd, Aliant Inc, Rogers Mobile Film Fund and the Canadian Film and Television Production Association.
Catherine holds a Diplôme d’Études Approfondies, Communications Theory from the University of Paris II Panthéon-Assas (1983), a Master of Science from Boston University’s School of Public Communication (1982) and a Bachelor of Arts (Hon) in Literature and Philosophy from the University of Toronto (1979). Catherine was named Playback’s Executive of the Year in 2019 and Woman of the Year 2021-2022 by Women in Communications and Technology.
Honourees are nominated by WIFT+ Toronto members and then selected by a jury of their industry peers. For 2023, the jury comprised of Susan Alexander, Gloria Ui Young Kim, and Jane Tattersall.
The 2023 Crystal Awards Gala event is supported by Reception Sponsor, eOne; Event Sponsors, City of Toronto, CMPA, Netflix, Spin Master Ltd., Telefilm Canada, and WildBrain; Event Supporters, BANFF World Media Festival, Bell Media, Cineplex, Cinespace Studios Toronto, Gallagher, M.A.C. Cosmetics, NABET 700-M UNIFOR, Playback, and Take 5 Productions; and Design & Production Partner, Big Bang Beige.
ABOUT WIFT TORONTO
Women in Film and Television Toronto is a member-based, not-for-profit organization made up of passionate individuals who are dedicated to the education, engagement, and empowerment of all individuals at every stage of their careers in the screen-based media industry. It is WIFT+ Toronto’s mission to build and advance the careers of its members by providing professional development, peer support, and mentorship in collaboration with industry partners.
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