Last week, the Association of Cable Communications (ACC) held their annual Beacon Awards in New York City, honoring excellence in cable communications and public affairs. On a celebratory night of inspiring programming and noteworthy wins, MTV’s Look Different Campaign: Gender Bent won the Public Service Announcement category, while MTV and Logo’s work on Transgender Awareness Week took both the Events/Observances External prize and the Golden Beacon Award.
The Golden Beacon Award win was especially noteworthy, given that it is the ACC’s highest honor, given to an initiative that makes an impact while enhancing cable’s image nationwide.
MTV’s Casey Acierno and MTV and Logo’s Rich Ferraro accepted the Golden Beacon, ascending the stage to speak more on the network’s involvement with Transgender Awareness Week and thank the ACC for the honor.
Acierno, a senior manager in MTV’s public affairs group, delivered a heartfelt appreciation to the ACC for recognizing the importance of transgender visibility, and also touched on the network’s longstanding commitment to providing a platform for the LGBTQ community to share their own stories. Ferraro, a senior director of communications and public affairs, spoke about the devastating shooting in Orlando and the fact that so far this year, at least 14 transgender women have lost their lives to anti-LGBT hate violence. He added that amplifying LGBTQ voices not only allows the networks’ 60 million global followers to meet LGBTQ people, but also open their hearts and minds to them.
Although the transgender individuals MTV worked with were unable to attend the awards, Ferraro shared a few words from Jacob Tobia, who starred in True Life: I’m Genderqueer, which premiered during the Transgender Awareness Week campaign. Tobia wrote:
“Working with MTV on True Life: I’m Genderqueer has been one of the most important projects that I’ve undertaken in my career as an advocate and media maker. To my knowledge, it is the first and only time that genderqueer and gender nonconforming trans people have been given our own platform on national television to share our stories, lives, and identities with the world. But it didn’t stop there. The episode was incorporated into a much wider-ranging campaign for trans awareness week that was able to elevate the conversation above and beyond where I thought it could go. As part of the project, I did a takeover of MTVs tumblr account for an Ask Me Anything session. I will never forget how it felt to sit in the Viacom building in TriBeCa, watching as thousands upon thousands of questions came streaming in from genderqueer, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming young people across the country, many of whom felt recognized and heard for the first time. Working with MTV epitomized the transformational power of television done right. When they first approached me about the project, I was terrified of including my father and my family more generally. Historically, my father and I hadn’t had the best relationship when it came to my gender identity. I was afraid that filming the show was going to tear us apart, but nothing could be further from the truth. Through filming the show, my father was finally able to see me as I want to be seen. The show did not divide us, it brought us closer than we have ever been, and I can’t thank MTV and Punched in the Head Productions enough for the role they played in making that happen.”
As Chris Albert, 2016 Beacon Awards chair and executive vice president of global communications and talent relations at National Geographic Channels remarked, “This year’s winners harnessed the power of cable to educate and entertain, showcasing the significant impact cable can have within communities on both a local and national level.”
Aside from taking prizes for Transgender Awareness Week and the Look Different campaign, Viacom brands were named finalists in two categories: MTV’s White People (Programming Special or Miniseries Event) and Logo’s Trailblazers Honors (Programming Special or Miniseries Event).