Nico Tortorella to host 2018 Rising Stars Luncheon at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York

April 27, 2018

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

GLAAD to present Outstanding Reality Program at event; nominees include Gaycation with Ellen Page, I Am Jazz, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Survivor: Game Changers, and The Voice

Parson James to perform; special guests include Auli’l Cravalho, Ellie Desautels, Joshua Rush, Milk, Jackie and Juliet Evancho, Blair Imani, Frankie Grande and Zeke Smith

New York, NY – GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, today announced the recipients, host, and special guests of the 2018 Rising Stars Luncheon at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York. The Rising Stars program empowers and invests in the next generation of LGBTQ change makers, whose advocacy is changing their local communities and the culture at large. Grants are awarded annually to LGBTQ youth and support initiatives that champion intersectional LGBTQ issues, including racial justice, immigration rights, transgender equality, and more.

All recipients will be recognized at the Rising Stars Luncheon taking place at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York City on May 4, 2018.

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

The event will be hosted by out actor, activist and author Nico Tortorella. Tortorella currently stars in the TV Land’s hit series, Younger, and previously on Fox’s The Following. In addition to hosting his podcast, The Love Bomb, he is an outspoken advocate for sexual and gender fluidity, and he has been featured in national media outlets, in print, online, and on television. Tortorella also recently released a book of poetry titled “All Of It Is You.” The luncheon will also feature a performance by Parson James, and 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 the event, the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Reality Programming will be presented. This year’s nominees include Gaycation with Ellen Page, I Am Jazz, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Survivor: Game Changers, and The Voice. Previous winners include Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, The Real World: Philadelphia, Project Runway, The Amazing Race, I Am Jazz, and Strut.

“Through their powerful initiatives to advance LGBTQ acceptance and visibility, these young activists are going to change the world,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO. “We are a living in at a time when LGBTQ acceptance is eroding, but by empowering and supporting these changemakers, we are working to ensure a brighter future.”

The 2018 recipients of the Rising Stars Grants in New York are:

Priscila Alegria Nunez 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.

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.

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.

GLAAD held a Rising Stars Luncheon at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles, hosted by Tommy Dorfman, with a performance by Superfruit, and presenters from Love, Simon, One Day At a Time, Black Lightning, I Am Jazz, and Andi Mack. GLAAD also presented the inaugural Outstanding Kids & Family Programming award at the event to Andi Mack.

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:

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

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, purchase tickets, and place a tribute in the tribute book, please visit