SAG-AFTRA Announces American Scene Award Recipients

SAG-AFTRA Announces American Scene Award Recipients

LOS ANGELES (Sept. 24, 2013) --- SAG-AFTRA today announced its recipients for the first SAG-AFTRA American Scene Awards. The awards are scheduled to take place on Friday, Sept. 27 as part of the Celebration event honoring SAG-AFTRA’s inaugural convention. The Inaugural National Convention Celebration is a dinner event with host Mary Hart (Entertainment Tonight). The evening includes entertainment and a special musical performance led by Dorian Holley (The Tonight Show with Jay Leno).

The American Scene Awards continues the tradition established in 1985 by the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists to honor union productions in the industry that realistically portray the “American Scene” by intelligently and progressively employing the talents of diverse ethnicities, people with disabilities, women, seniors, people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender, and other misrepresented or underrepresented groups.

The awards recognize work in the three main contract categories covered by the union. The honors include the Actor/Performer Award, the Belva Davis Broadcaster Award and the Recording Artist Award.

The 2013 American Scene Award recipients are:

Actor/Performer Award: ABC Family and Brenda Hampton of Brendavision! Productions for The Secret Life of the American Teenager

Belva Davis Broadcaster Award: Detroit Public Television for Arab American Stories

Recording Artist Award: Universal Music Group for their entire catalog and roster of artists

Recipients are selected based upon their impact on SAG-AFTRA members, viewing audiences and the industry. All recipients demonstrate an undeniable power and value in hiring from the diverse ranks of our society.

Jason George, chair of the SAG-AFTRA Diversity Advisory Committee, said of the Actor/Performer Award recipient, “It is rare that diversity is featured on one program in such a frequent and wide-ranging scale. The Secret Life of the American Teenager employs progressive and complex storylines which continually provide audiences with opportunities to learn from and accept diversity in others and their experiences.”

Accepting for The Secret Life of the American Teenager will be creator Brenda Hampton who said, “It was a pleasure to work for Disney and ABC Family, both have a strong commitment to diversity in casting, and both encourage stories that inspire children and young adults to be accepting of differences in each other.” Presenting the award to Hampton will be one of the show’s stars, Francia Raisa.

Jenny O’Hara, co-chair of the SAG-AFTRA Honors and Tributes Committee said of the “Belva Davis” Broadcaster Award recipient, “Arab American Stories presents a varied and multifaceted view of Arab-Americans from all walks of life. This series has given audiences an opportunity to learn about the significant contributions of those featured to their professions, communities and the world at large in a format which is highly entertaining and relatable.” 

“We’re extremely pleased that Arab American Stories has been selected to receive this honor,” said Detroit Public Television President and CEO Rich Homberg. “The series explores the diversity of the Arab-American experience and we thank SAG-AFTRA for recognizing the power of public media to promote greater understanding of misrepresented or underrepresented groups in our communities.” Host/narrator Neda Ulaby will accept on his behalf.

Janette Gautier, co-chair of the SAG-AFTRA Honors and Tributes Committee said of the Recording Artist Award recipient, “We honor Universal Music Group for the diversity represented in their catalog and roster of artists, embodying every facet of the American Scene. Their artists speak directly to audiences through myriad diverse stories and experiences.”

Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group said, "Great music has a magical ability to join people of diverse backgrounds- fans and artists alike. We believe that when you celebrate diversity, you create some of the most powerful music imaginable.  It is a great honor to have UMG's commitment to diversity recognized with the prestigious American Scene Award, and we commend SAG-AFTRA for their leadership on this critical issue." Accepting will be Jeff Harleston, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Universal Music Group.

SAG-AFTRA National Director of Equal Employment Opportunities & Diversity Adam Moore said, “As SAG-AFTRA’s only awards program recognizing employers of our members, the American Scene Award shines a spotlight on producers whose projects exemplify our shared commitment to employment of the diverse union membership. It is a core value of SAG-AFTRA that our strength is in our diversity. We are committed to the broadest employment and involvement of our members, regardless of gender, race, age, religious beliefs, disability, nationality, sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Past recipients of the AFTRA American Scene Award have included American Idol, Sesame Street and the Children’s Television Workshop, Modern Family, Parenthood, The Voice, As the World Turns, Warner Bros. Records/Nashville, ABC7/WLS-TV Chicago, KCBS/KCAL Los Angeles and the WGBH Educational Foundation among many other industry leaders.