At the Tenth Annual Television Academy Honors on June 8, three programs from 21st Century Fox businesses were recognized for harnessing “the extraordinary power of television to advance social change.” The honorees included National Geographic’s Before the Flood, a documentary from Academy Award winners Leonardo DiCaprio and Fisher Stevens about the global effects of climate change, as well This Is Us and Speechless, two series produced by Twentieth Century Fox Television. Representatives from each program accepted the awards at the Beverly Hills event, which honored six total series drawn from more than 300 submissions.
“With a constant presence in people’s daily lives, television consistently demonstrates its ability to power social change,” said Television Academy Chairman and CEO Hayma Washington. “The six honorees have effectively leveraged the medium to raise awareness of complex issues. We are honored to acknowledge storytellers producing meaningful television that provokes important conversations.”
Before the Flood follows DiCaprio on a journey across five continents to explore the effects of climate change on our communities, as well as the political and social forces standing in the way of possible solutions. Throughout fall 2016, National Geographic worked to bring the film’s important message not only to government and business leaders but also to as many global viewers as possible, releasing the film across a record-breaking number of linear, digital, and social platforms. As a result, the film garnered more than 60 million viewers around the world, making it the most-watched National Geographic documentary in history.
“Typically, a network would buy a film and put it on their network exclusively, but we really felt that it was important for as many people to see this film as possible,” said Courteney Monroe, CEO of National Geographic Global Networks. “At National Geographic, we believe in the power of storytelling to change the world, and we think there is no more important issue facing our planet today than that of climate change.”
This Is Us is an ensemble drama tackling the full range of social issues that confront the contemporary American family, including marriage, adoption, racial identity, addiction, body image, parenting, and more. Speechless is a comedy series about the family of a teenager with cerebral palsy. The show has sparked new conversations about disability in America and has garnered notable acclaim for its decision to cast an actor with cerebral palsy in the main role. Speechless creator and executive producer Scott Silveri spoke to these points in his acceptance speech.
“The number of people in America with disabilities is a lot, and the number of people with disabilities on television is not a lot, and the number of those people played by actual performers with disabilities is next to none. Sorry to beat you down with statistics, but they don’t lie,” Silveri joked. “The barriers to casting those with disabilities are false and they’re imagined, and the rewards to casting those people are great… Part of our responsibility in what we do is to represent society as a whole, and you can’t do that without representing disability.”