Ava DuVernay to be honored with the Excellence in Media Award for intersectional advocacy at 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York

April 20, 2018

Matt Goodman
Associate Director of Communications, GLAAD
(646) 871-8028

Alexis Bledel to present Samira Wiley with the Vito Russo Award

Ross Mathews to host; special guests include Halsey, Laverne Cox, Lea Michele, Tituss Burgess, Nyle DiMarco, Wrabel, Blair Imani, and Asia Kate Dillon

New York, NY – GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, today announced that filmmaker, director and screenwriter Ava DuVernay will be honored at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York at the New York Hilton Midtown on Saturday, May 5, 2018. GLAAD previously announced that Samira Wiley will receive the Vito Russo Award for her LGBTQ advocacy. Wiley will be presented with the award by Alexis Bledel.

The GLAAD Media Awards honor media for fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of LGBTQ people and issues. The GLAAD Media Awards also fund GLAAD's work to accelerate acceptance of the LGBTQ community. The 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards are presented by Delta Air Lines, Gilead, Ketel One Family-Made Vodka, and Wells Fargo.

DuVernay will receive GLAAD's Excellence in Media Award, which 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.

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 a trans actor and has worked to include queer directors from day one. Actress Reese Witherspoon, who starred in DuVernay’s recent blockbuster A Wrinkle in Time, noted that DuVernay “demands inclusiveness” like no other and insured a diverse cast and crew.

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.

In addition, she is an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ acceptance, denouncing homophobia online and calling for marginalized communities to stand together. Famously stating at Women in Hollywood event, “We're black. We're brown. We are native. We are Asian. We are Muslim. We are queer. We are many things that deserve safe spaces and protection.” The honor is part of GLAAD’s Together movement, which seeks to unite marginalized communities in a stand against those that seek to divide. Celebrities will be wearing blue “&” pins for the Together movement – representing GLAAD’s work on intersectional issues including immigration, racial justice, women’s rights, and LGBTQ acceptance. This subtle yet powerful symbol represents the power of solidarity and great accomplishments that occur when marginalized community groups – including women, Muslims, immigrants, and LGBTQ people – resist together.

DuVernay also stood up for LGBTQ youth on GLAAD's Spirit Day by going purple on social media to speak out against bullying.

“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.”

Samira Wiley will receive the Vito Russo Award during the ceremony for her work to bring heartfelt and moving LGBTQ portrayals to the screen. The Vito Russo Award is presented to an openly LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting LGBTQ acceptance and is named for Vito Russo, a founder of GLAAD and celebrated ACT UP activist, who pushed open the door for news and entertainment industries to include LGBTQ performers and stories. Wiley can currently be seen portraying LGBTQ character Moira on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, a role that earned her Emmy and NAACP Image Award nominations. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Wiley portrays a woman faced with an uncertain future in a time when being queer is outlawed. The Handmaid’s Tale is nominated this year for Outstanding Drama Series.

GLAAD will announce the winners from the following GLAAD Media Award categories at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York: Outstanding Film – Wide Release, Outstanding Documentary, Outstanding Reality Program, Outstanding Music Artist, Outstanding Talk Show Episode, Outstanding TV Journalism – Newsmagazine, Outstanding TV Journalism Segment, Outstanding Newspaper Article, Outstanding Magazine Article, Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage, Outstanding Digital Journalism – Multimedia, Outstanding TV Journalism – Newsmagazine (Spanish Language), and Outstanding TV Journalism Segment (Spanish Language).

At the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles, held on April 12 at the Beverly Hilton, GLAAD announced the winners for 12 GLAAD Media Award categories. They are: Outstanding Drama Series (This Is Us), Outstanding Individual Episode (in a series without a regular LGBTQ character) (“Thanksgiving” Master of None), Outstanding Kids & Family Programming (Andi Mack), Outstanding Comedy Series (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Outstanding Film – Limited Release (A Fantastic Woman), Outstanding TV Movie or Limited Series (When We Rise), Outstanding Comic Book (Black Panther: World of Wakanda), Outstanding Daily Drama (The Bold and the Beautiful), Outstanding Digital Journalism Article (“Why Bisexual Men Are Still Fighting to Convince Us They Exist” by Samantha Allen), Outstanding Blog (TransGriot), Outstanding Scripted Television Series (Spanish Language) (Las Chicas Del Cable), Outstanding Digital Journalism (Spanish Language) (“Tres Hermanitos Para Dos Papás” by Jacqueline García). GLAAD also honored Britney Spears with the Vanugard Award and Jim Parsons with the Stephen F. Kolzak Award. GLAAD announced a Special Recognition Award for Jay-Z’s song and music video “Smile” featuring his mother Gloria Carter who used the song to come out as a lesbian as well as a Special Recognition Award to the animated short film In A Heartbeat. Nominees can be found here: www.glaad.org/mediaawards/nominees

Additional special guests from the GLAAD Media Awards in New York will be announced in the coming weeks.

The 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles kick off on April 12 at the Beverly Hilton where Britney Spears and Jim Parsons will be honored, with Wanda Sykes will hosting. Special appearances from Ryan Murphy, Ricky Martin, Lena Waithe, Adam Rippon, Chloe Grace Moretz, Wilson Cruz, Anthony Rapp, Rachel Bloom, Ben Feldman, and Gigi Gorgeous.

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, SheppardMullin, 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, purchase tickets, and place a tribute in the tribute book, please visit www.glaad.org/mediaawards