Whose stories are being told on television? Now, more than ever, they’re our viewers’—their lives, experiences, and individual triumphs and hardships.
The National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) Vision Awards honor original TV programming that reflects the diversity of its audience.
NAMIC announced this year’s winners on Monday, April 24. Thirteen shows from three Viacom networks, including BET, VH1, and Nickelodeon, were nominated for awards. Out of these nominations, three programs—including BET’s Being Mary Jane, Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement and VH1’s Hip Hop Honors: All Hail the Queens won their respective categories.
The organization acknowledged shows that told authentic stories and featured cast members from different racial and ethnic backgrounds.
“As our industry’s consumer base becomes increasingly diverse, the production of ethnically and culturally relevant content is central to our industry’s sustainability,” said NAMIC Southern California president Tisha Harris in a press release.
“NAMIC – Southern California in collaboration with NAMIC National is pleased to continue our tradition of recognizing achievements in the advancement of multiplatform programming diversity.”
Here’s the breakdown on each winning Viacom program, as well as our nominees:
VH1: Awards & Honors Winner
VH1’s Hip Hop Honors: All Hail the Queens won the Awards & Honors category. Last year, more than three million viewers tuned in to watch seminal female rappers Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, Lil’ Kim and others showcase their epic talent.
The show reached unprecedented viral success. Fans generated 630,000 tweets and 17 trending Twitter topics related to the Queens of hip-hop—making the Hip Hop Honors the most socially-prolific program on TV that night.
VH1’s show celebrated the history and diversity behind hip-hop. By promoting the powerful voices of hip-hop pioneers, All Hail the Queens let the voices of women—especially women of color—be heard.
BET Networks: Eight Nominations; Two Wins
BET’s scripted series Being Mary Jane tied with ABC’s Secrets and Lies to win the Drama category.
Being Mary Jane is about a single, successful African-American television news anchor (Gabrielle Union). It’s amassed a significant audience of African-American viewers, many of whom relate to the titular character, Mary Jane. Despite being an educated, attractive woman, she’s often insecure as a result of her dysfunctional family and love life.
In 2013, The Daily Beast interviewed fans of the show.
“I saw a lot of parallels in my life and what women experience in their work life,” said 36-year-old Rachelle Johnson. Another viewer commented on the fact that Mary Jane was the one holding her family together. Agnes Wagner, 41, told The Daily Beast she related to Mary Jane’s quest to be heard in the workplace, especially as an African-American woman.
Why do I relate to Mary Jane so much? #BeingMaryJane
— Alba (@asweke89) April 10, 2017
#BeingMaryJane gets to my very core.
I don’t even understand it.
— Encyclocynic (@Nehitalia) April 8, 2017
BET’s documentary series Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement won the News/Informational category. The series chronicled the evolution of one of the most prolific social justice movements of the 21st century—Black Lives Matter (BLM).
BET’s series portrayed BLM as a historic fight against racism, which would not exist without support from the African-American LGBT community and female leadership. Executive producer Jesse Williams told the Huffington Post in 2016 that BLM “stands on the shoulders of folks who stand on the shoulders of previous movements.”
BET earned five other nominations across four programs:
BET Presents Love & Happiness: An Obama Celebration (Original Movie or Special)
The 2016 BET Awards (Awards & Honors)
Black Girls Rock! (Awards & Honors, Original Movie or Special)
Being Mary Jane (Best Performance – Drama)
Nickelodeon: Four Nominations
Last year, The Loud House introduced a same-sex, interracial married couple to its cast of characters, a move that earned overwhelming support, according to Time. Now, it’s been renewed for a third season, and Paramount is making a movie based on the series, set to debut in 2020.
“The Loud House” on Nickelodeon has a character with two gay dads and I just think it’s so important ❤️💛💚💙💜
— Grand Moff Taylor™ (@fydothedinosaur) February 10, 2017
Sanjay and Craig is about an Indian-American boy and his best friend Craig, an anthropomorphic pet snake. Hyphen Magazine called it groundbreaking for showing a mixed-race family “without making it A Big Deal,” similar to The Loud House’s depiction of interracial, LGBT couples.
Rather than make a grand statement about LGBT issues, race, or ethnicity, these shows allow their narrative to play out authentically through the characters.
Congratulation to VH1, BET, Nickelodeon, and the rest of the Viacom family for producing rich, culturally-relevant content.