×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Inside TV Academy Honors: Tears, Laughs and Socially Conscious Shows

As Emmy season kicks into high gear, the Television Academy took a moment on Thursday to celebrate a handful of programs that have tackled critical social issues.

Hosted by “Claws” star Niecy Nash and held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, the event honored the dramas “A Million Little Things” (ABC) and “Pose” (FX); the children’s show “Alexa & Katie” (Netflix); the documentary specials “I Am Evidence” (HBO) and “RBG” (CNN); and documentary series “Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story” (Paramount Network) and “My Last Days” (The CW).

Host Niecy Nash speaks at the 12th Annual Television Academy Honors, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles 12th Annual Television Academy Honors - Inside, Los Angeles, USA - 30 May 2019
CREDIT: Colin Young-Wolff/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

“Get your Kleenex ready,” Nash quipped at the start of the hour-long ceremony. “These seven honorees carry with them the gravity of each story and power of each singular voice to speak his or her own truth.”

Indeed, the night started off on an emotional note when Sybrina Fulton, the mother of unarmed slain teenager Trayvon Martin, took the stage to help accept the award for “Rest in Power.”

“You never know what role God is going to lead you in,” she said. “You never know your purpose in life until you’re put in that position. This is for my son, Trayvon Martin.” Added director Julia Willoughby Nason: “[Martin’s family] sacrificed their privacy despite their tremendous pain. We will fight for Trayvon for the rest of our lives.”

Accepting for “Pose,” creator Steven Canals said the FX drama was borne out of his desire “to see myself, my people on television… ‘Pose’ is a love letter to our forebearers and ourselves.”

Added writer and director Janet Mock, who became the first transgender woman of color to write and direct a major TV episode, ” ‘Pose’ was our story to tell. We, the ones who lived it, are the most equipped to tell our stories… LGBTQ people have lived on the margins for far too long. ‘Pose’ is a reminder to the world we are and always have been our own heroes.”

Heather Warden, creator of Netflix’s youth-oriented comedy “Alexa & Katie,” recounted the challenge of balancing the show’s laughs with tackling the subject of young people coping with cancer. She also noted that it was too much for one network: “This pilot was once somewhere else,” Warden recounted. “And the note I got back was, ‘what if instead of cancer she had diabetes?'”

The ultimate idea behind the show, Warden said, was “we have to find humor during these horrible, scary times. Laughter helps us breathe again.”

RBG” filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen brought down the house by dropping down on the stage and doing a few push-ups — in honor of their documentary subject, the very active Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“This year, at age 86, Ginsburg has recovered from her third cancer surgery and is tackling her job on the Supreme Court with the same fierce determination that she holds a plank,” West said.

“My Last Days” creator Justin Baldoni said, via a video, said about his show, which follows people tackling bucket list items while facing the end of their lives, “this was a taboo subject that no one wanted to touch… This is real life, real people, real stories.”

D.J. Nash, Grace Park, Christina Moses, James Roday, Christina Ochoa, David Giuntoli, Allison Miller, Ron Livingston. D.J. Nash, Creator/Executive Producer of "A Million Little Things," left, accepts the Television Academy Honors Award with the cast on stage at the 12th Annual Television Academy Honors, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles 12th Annual Television Academy Honors - Inside, Los Angeles, USA - 30 May 2019
CREDIT: Colin Young-Wolff/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

A Million Little Things” creator DJ Nash ended the show by sharing several stories he has heard from viewers who have struggled with mental health issues, or have been impacted by suicide. “The biggest surprise to me, while I set out to tell my story, what I realized along the way is we’re telling all our stories,” he said. “The mental health community has been so supportive of our show.”

This year’s chosen programs addressed a wide variety of topics including race relations, gender discrimination, LGBTQ+ issues, women’s rights, mental health, alcoholism, childhood illness and more.

Television Academy chairman/CEO Frank Scherma opened the event, which was organized by Honors selection committee chairs including TV Academy casting peer group governor Howard Meltzer and vice chair Mitch Waldow.

[Pictured: Steven Canals and Janet Mock, “Pose”]

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • German Streaming Service Joyn Orders Original

    German Streamer Joyn Moves Into Original Content With Political Thriller 'Dignity'

    Joyn, the new German streaming service backed by local media giant ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery, has ordered its first original series, “Dignity,” a political thriller about the hunt for an ex-Nazi who has set up a cult in Chile. Joyn is a free platform offering live streaming of 55 channels, including German pubcasters ARD and ZDF, [...]

  • Youngest Media, Headed By Ex Endemol

    Youngest Media, Headed By Former Endemol Shine Execs, Launches German Subsidiary

    Youngest Media, the content studio led by former Endemol Shine U.K. executives Lucas Church and David Flynn, has launched a subsidiary in Germany. The German arm, headed by Mark Stehli, has received its first order: a German version of reality series “Battle of the Bands” for channel RTL II. Stehli, who has the title managing [...]

  • Judith Light'Transparent' TV show Musical Finale,

    'Transparent' Team Talks 'Transformative Energy' of Trans Community

    As Amazon Prime Video prepares to send off “Transparent” with a musical finale movie on Sept. 27, the cast and creative team behind the show are hoping the impact of a character such as Maura Pfefferman (Jeffrey Tambor) will not be overshadowed by the controversy that the actor who portrayed Maura caused. “I believe that [...]

  • Cherry Jones

    Cherry Jones Wins 2019 Guest Drama Actress Emmy

    Cherry Jones won the 2019 guest drama actress Emmy for her work as the titular character’s mother, Holly Osborne, in Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” This was Jones’ second consecutive nomination for the role but first win. Interestingly, both noms were for her work in the second season of the dystopian streaming series. After a few [...]

  • Jane Lynch, Cyndi Lauper Developing 'Golden

    Jane Lynch, Cyndi Lauper Developing 'Golden Girls'-Style Comedy for Netflix

    Jane Lynch and Cyndi Lauper just wanna have fun. The comedian and the 1980s music icon have joined forces to star in a new comedy project that may be heading to Netflix. Lynch let it slip backstage at the Creative Arts Emmys that she and Lauper will co-star in a comedy that she described as [...]

  • Luke Kirby71st Annual Primetime Creative Arts

    Luke Kirby Wins 2019 Guest Comedy Actor Emmy

    Luke Kirby has been crowned the winner of the 2019 guest comedy actor Emmy for his role as the real-life comic Lenny Bruce on Amazon Prime Video’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” This was Kirby’s first-ever Emmy attention. He was nominated against a slew of “Saturday Night Live” players (Robert De Niro, John Mulaney and Adam [...]

  • Bradley Whitford photographed at the PMC

    Bradley Whitford Wins 2019 Guest Drama Actor Emmy

    Bradley Whitford won the 2019 guest drama actor Emmy for his role of Commander Joseph Lawrence on Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Whitford joined the cast of the streaming dystopian series at the end of its second season, in episodes that were released after the close of the 2018 Emmy eligibility window. The Television Academy agreed [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content