Ava DuVernay gets surprised by Senator Cory Booker and tells the GLAAD Media Awards crowd: "People ask me a lot about being an activist and an artist. To me they are one in the same."

Ava DuVernay received the Excellence in Media Award for her intersectional advocacy at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City. The award was presented to her by suprise guest Senator Cory Booker, who spoke about DuVernay's work and impact. He said: "Ava stands up for women. For people of color. For the LGBTQ community. She advocates for diverse storylines on screen, and a diverse workforce behind the scenes. She represents for everyone on the margins, whose voices are not heard and not valued, especially right now. Her work, like GLAAD’s work, crosses intersections of gender, color, identity and ability. Because we all know that acceptance for one community is something, but it’s not enough. We demand for acceptance for all, and we won’t stop fighting until we get it."

DuVernay took to the stage to accept her Excellence in Media Award and spoke about inclusion in Hollywood and intersectionality: “People ask me a lot about being an activist and an artist. To me they are one in the same. To be an activist - one must be highly creative. It takes great imagination to envision a world and a way of being that is not there. That’s the same definition of art, to me. When I look at the many warriors who have to apply this art, this imagination to their very lives as LGBTQ people, to just survive in this country, I stand in salute. And I feel honored to be able to share some of these stories in the films and TV I make and in the films I distribute.”

The Excellence in Media Award, is presented to media professionals who have made a significant difference in promoting acceptance of LGBTQ people. Previous Excellence in Media Award honorees include Robert De Niro, Kelly Ripa, Patti LaBelle, Debra Messing, Tyra Banks, Julianne Moore, Glenn Close, Barbara Walters, Joy Behar, Billy Crystal, Vanessa Redgrave, and Diane Sawyer.

Ross Mathews hosted the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City which included a duet from LGBTQ icons Adam Lambert and Melissa Etheridge. Samira Wiley received the Vito Russo Award from co-star Alexis Bledel and Ms. Gloria Carter received a special recognition from Robin Roberts for her son JAY-Z's song "Smile." Presenters during the event included Tituss Burgess, Laverne Cox, Lea Michele, Nyle DiMarco, Asia Kate Dillon, Nico Tortorella and stars of NBC's Rise. 

The embodiment of solidarity, Ava DuVernay is an Academy Award nominated, Emmy-winning and critically-acclaimed filmmaker and powerhouse whose efforts are moving the needle for inclusion in Hollywood. Through her commitment to inclusion, DuVernay has supported the careers of LGBTQ talent in front of and behind the camera, including on her hit OWN drama Queen Sugar, where she created a storyline featuring a trans character portrayed by trans actor Brian Michael. 

DuVernay’s influence as a change maker in the film industry is further displayed by her being the inspiration for the ‘DuVernay test,’ which requires “African Americans and other minorities [to] have fully realized lives rather than serve as scenery in white stories,” and serves as a version of the Bechdel test or GLAAD’s Vito Russo test for racial diversity on screen.

“Ava DuVernay is a tireless and outspoken advocate for inclusion in Hollywood for all marginalized groups – not to mention a personal hero of mine,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO. “She is truly changing the entertainment industry for the better, and we could not be more pleased to be honoring her.”

The 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards are presented by Delta Air Lines, Gilead, Ketel One Family-Made Vodka, and Wells Fargo. The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of the LGBTQ community and the issues that affect their lives. The GLAAD Media Awards also fund GLAAD's work to amplify stories from the LGBTQ community and issues that build support for equality and acceptance.