This year’s programme features a number of key names from the industry, who regularly speak out to create more opportunities and enhance visibility for talent from diverse backgrounds. It is also highlighting experts who are demonstrating the positive impact of diversity and supporting a series of networking events bringing together various communities.
A 16-strong Selection Jury chose the shortlist for this year’s Awards and those on the shortlist will be judged by a Jury of charitable organisations that campaign for equality and inclusion, among them: GLAAD, Minority Rights Group International, GADIM and Scope. The winners in each category will be announced during the Awards ceremony, October 14 at MIPCOM.
Mounia Aram, part of the Selection Jury, launched her eponymous distribution outfit the Mounia Aram Company this year, in response to the lack of representation of Africa and African people in animation. “I’m a professional of the animation industry with North African origins and over 15 years’ experience,” Aram said. “If some cultures are well-represented throughout the world — like Japanese Anime and some countries which are renowned for the quality of their work, like France, Canada or the US — I noticed that Africa was almost not represented at all. I thus decided to tackle this problem by founding the Mounia Aram Company, which specialises in the co-production and distribution of African animation. “We are still lacking the diversification of animated programming that would allow for young children to understand different people, different cultures from around the world,” she added. “It would change the opinions of all children, making them aware of different ways that people live and allowing them to escape a narrow-minded approach to beauty and culture.”
“Personally I’m impressed by shows that disrupt the convention somewhat,” managing director of factual distributor Scorpion Television and member of the Selection Jury, David Cornwall, said. “I was impressed by Smithsonian’s entry last year, Epic Warrior Women: Africa’s Amazons, as it is not what you might expect from a historical war documentary. Also, the winner of the 2018 Award for Representation of Disability: Scripted, Blind Donna, produced by Production House of Finland, dealt with a difficult subject through comedy and the versatility of the main character.” He added: “The Diversify TV Excellence Awards are a powerful way to focus attention on the great programmes being produced around the world celebrating diversity in all its forms.”
“When people are able to see themselves on screen, they feel that they belong; by being represented they become part of what we intend as culture,” according to juror Bruna Capozzoli, “a proud Brazilian, LGBTQ+ female media professional” and creative director of Popcorn Digital, which creates kids’ content primarily for digital platforms. “This experience comes with the notion of inclusion. It is a recognition of one’s relevance within society and therefore it gives a person the feeling of empowerment that allows to make the changes they would like to see. Only a place where diverse segments of society have a voice is a place where the conversation around equality can start.”
For juror Sahar Baghery, head of business development at Amazon Prime Video, “we are at a turning point. We recognise more easily that diverse voices from diverse backgrounds increase sharing of new perspectives and develop innovative storytelling, that diverse and equitable teams develop and grow the best builders and produce better results for our customers,” Baghery said. “I sincerely believe that, as media professionals, we have an important role to play in the development of collective consciousness. And to be totally transparent, this is the reason why I wanted to pursue a career in this industry. I grew up in France, I am French; Iranian from my dad, Moroccan from my mum. I have a personal and family history strongly related to freedom of speech and freedom of thought. And with our business, I believe we have the capacity to create a dynamic platform to share, debate and promote diversity. So for me it’s a great privilege and an important responsibility we have thanks to the Diversify TV Excellence Awards. Seeing an increasing awareness is very encouraging. But this needs to be more than a trending topic, we need concrete next steps and calls to action.”