GLAAD Honors LGBTQ Youth Leaders at Rising Stars Luncheon NYC

On Thursday, GLAAD awarded three driven and talented LGBTQ young adults with Rising Stars Grants for their leadership and activism to accelerate LGBTQ acceptance at the Rising Stars Luncheon, hosted by Nico Tortorella. Thanks to partners Barilla, Comcast NBCUniversal | Telemundo, and Delta, these passionate changemakers are the latest additions to a growing number of young activists poised to move LGBTQ acceptance forward. Meet GLAAD's newest rising stars:

Photo Credit: Cindy Ord/Getty

Kosoko Jackson (he/him/his) is a Maryland native. He is the author of A Place For Wolves, a diverse Historical Thriller Young Adult Novel, coming out Summer 2019 by Sourcebooks Fire, and advocates for an increase in diverse authors and characters within the YA literary canon. Kosoko will continue championing literary diversity by using the Rising Stars Grant to create a mentorship program for queer authors, who can learn from a published queer author about craft, brand management, and the world of publishing for two months, culminating in a pitch event to literary agents & sponsored attendance at a literary convention.

Akila Prayaga (she/her/hers) is a senior at Cornell University. On campus, she has helped lead several LGBTQ+ organizations and events. Akila has continued her outreach off campus through her involvement in diversity organizations and conferences like Grace Hopper and Out for Undergrad. As a Rising Star grantee, Akila will expand her website, “The LGBTQ Agenda,” that promotes opportunities, conferences, and other resources for queer students interested in professional careers. to include interviews with queer professionals from a variety of backgrounds, professional skills webinars, and broadening the scope of the website to be the best resource it can be for queer students. She hopes to empower LGBTQ+ students to be the representation that the corporate world currently lacks.

Priscila a.k.a. Pea (they/them/theirs) is a non-binary cinematographer and documentarian. Born in Trujillo, Peru, Pea grew up with with an activist mom, who brought them to the streets to protest corruption and unemployment, the aftermath of an era of terrorism and dictatorship they were born into. In search for greater opportunities, Pea arrived in the U.S. at 15 and they began their journey as a visual storyteller. Now a proud graduate of UCLA’s film school, Pea has shot documentaries, short narratives, and is about to embark on their first VR docudrama with their team and the generous contribution of GLAAD’S Rising Stars--all to make their mama and Pachamama proud.

The luncheon also featured appearances by Auli’I Cravalho (Rise), Ellie Desautels (Rise), Joshua Rush (Andi Mack), Milk (RuPaul’s Drag Race), activist Blair Imani, Jackie Evancho (singer), Juliet Evancho (activist), Frankie Grande, and Zeke Smith (Survivor).

GLAAD also announced that CBS' Survivor: Game Changers received the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Reality Program. Accepting the award was contestant Zeke Smith, with presentes Jackie and Juliet Evancho and Frankie Grande.

The GLAAD Rising Stars program is presented by Barilla, Comcast, NBCUniversal | Telemundo, Delta Air Lines, Turner, and Wells Fargo.

Recipients of GLAAD Rising Stars Grants will also attend the 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City, which honor media for fair and accurate representations of LGBTQ people and the issues that impact their lives.

To receive the latest updates on the GLAAD Media Awards, follow @glaad on Twitter and use the hashtag #glaadawards.

The 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards corporate partners include Presenting Partners Delta Air Lines, Gilead, Ketel One Family-Made Vodka, and Wells Fargo. GLAAD is also grateful to: Official Partner Bud Light; Platinum Partners 21st Century Fox, Allstate Insurance Company, AT&T, Creative Arts Agency (CAA), Comcast NBCUniversal | Telemundo, Disney ABC Television Group | ESPN, Hyundai, Kaiser Permanente, Kelley Drye, MetLife, NBA | WNBA, Netflix, Omnicom Group, Sheppard Mullin, Southwest Airlines, and Turner; Gold Partners CBS | Showtime, Facebook, Nielsen, PwC, UM, Univision, Warner Bros.; and Silver Partners Coca-Cola, Hornet, Major League Baseball, Morgan Stanley, Pride Media, Skadden, Variety, and WWE. For a full list of corporate partners and information on how to become a corporate partner please visit