Ava DuVernay and her game-changing social impact collective ARRAY are out here snatching trophies!
Today it was announced that ARRAY has won Peabody’s Institutional Award. The one and only Oprah (Miss Winfrey if you’re nasty) presented DuVernay with the honor this morning. ARRAY is being recognized for its role in amplifying film and TV projects by people of color and women filmmakers. Selected by the Peabody Board of Jurors, the Institutional Award recognizes institutions and organizations, as well as series and programs, for their enduring body of work and their iconic impact on both the media landscape and the public imagination.
“As an Academy Award nominee and multiple Peabody and Emmy Award winner, Ava has leveraged her remarkable success to amplify and uplift women directors and storytellers of color,” said Jeffrey Jones, executive director of Peabody. “ARRAY has produced an incredible slate of projects centered around Black experiences and has led many inspirational initiatives to support up-and-coming filmmakers of color. It’s an honor to name ARRAY winner of this year’s Institutional Award.”
Founded in 2011 by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, ARRAY is as much a center for disruptive institutional and narrative change as it is a production house. Indeed, its creative campus in Historic Filipinotown, Los Angeles is itself a rejection of antiquated Hollywood thinking, not just in foregrounding absent voices and missing representations in front of and behind the camera by people of color and women, but in reimagining how projects are greenlit, created, produced, and distributed, and by whom. In ten short years, ARRAY has built the institutional infrastructure to produce award-winning content in film (Caste) and television (Queen Sugar), across genres of drama (When They See Us), documentary (13th), unscripted (Home Sweet Home), and animation (Wings of Fire).
In addition, ARRAY is deeply invested in the social impact of its work and has created educational and learning materials for much of its content, as well as programs such as LEAP (Law Enforcement Accountability Project) to commission art projects in the service of social justice activism. Understanding the enormous opportunity to address diverse hiring practices within the industry, the non-profit ARRAY Alliance recently launched ARRAY Crew, a database for below-the-line production personnel. It’s easy to see that DuVernay and her women-led team at ARRAY have not waited for permission to build, create, grow, and envision a more equitable future for neglected filmmakers, artists, and social activists. Through brilliant vision and old-fashioned sweat equity, ARRAY has crafted a new way forward in an industry heavily resistant to change.
Recent winners of the Institutional Award include The Simpsons, 60 Minutes, Sesame Street, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Kartemquin Films, FRONTLINE, and ITVS.
Could this be the first time a woman of color and a platform that champions inclusive narratives has won this award? I think so! I may be wrong, but I’m just going to go with my assumption.
The 30 winners of the 81st annual Peabody Awards will be named during a multi-day virtual celebration from June 21st through June 24th. Celebrity presenters will announce each winner via a short video which will include remarks from the winners. Videos will be pushed out on June 21st, 22nd, 23rd, and 24th between 9:00am PT and 10:30am PT each day. The winners will be announced via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and at peabodyawards.com
Watch Oprah present ARRAY and DuVernay with the award below.