News, Pop Culture

Samira Wiley to be honored with the Vito Russo Award for LGBTQ Advocacy at 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York

GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, announced that Emmy nominee Samira Wiley will be honored at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York at the New York Hilton Midtown on Saturday, May 5, 2018. GLAAD previously announced that Britney Spears and Jim Parsons would be receiving honors at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles.

GLAAD also announced that out TV personality Ross Mathews will host the event, with special appearances by Halsey, Laverne Cox, Lea Michele, Wrabel, and Asia Kate Dillon.

The GLAAD Media Awards honor media for fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of LGBTQ people and issues. The GLAAD Media Awards also fund GLAAD’s work to accelerate acceptance of the LGBTQ community. The 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards are presented by Delta Air Lines, Gilead, Ketel One Family-Made Vodka, and Wells Fargo.

Wiley will receive the Vito Russo Award, which is presented to an openly LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting LGBTQ acceptance. The Award is named for Vito Russo, a founder of GLAAD and celebrated ACT UP activist, who pushed open the door for news and entertainment industries to include LGBTQ performers and stories. Previous Vito Russo honorees include Anderson Cooper, Ricky Martin, Cynthia Nixon, Rosie O’Donnell, Tom Ford, Billy Porter, Thomas Roberts, Suze Orman, and Alan Cumming, among others.

Wiley can currently be seen portraying LGBTQ character Moira on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, a role that earned her Emmy and NAACP Image Award nominations. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Wiley portrays a woman faced with an uncertain future in a time when being queer is outlawed. The Handmaid’s Tale is nominated this year for Outstanding Drama Series.

Wiley is also well-known for her SAG Award-winning performance as inmate Poussey on Orange Is the New Black, where she played a beloved LGBTQ character, who quickly became a fan favorite. Wiley can be seen next in the independent film Social Animals. 

Wiley married Orange Is the New Black writer Lauren Morelli – who she met on set – in 2017. Morelli came out in 2014 and credited the 2014 GLAAD Media Awards, where GLAAD’s President and CEO encouraged the audience to live their lives openly and with love, in plain view of any opposition. Wiley shared touching moments from their honeymoon on her popular Instagram account – a powerful show of love and visibility. The couple were also one of the first interracial female couples to be featured by Martha Stewart Weddings. Wiley regularly posts LGBTQ-affirming messages to her social channels – memorably sharing images from the  many Pride festivals she attends. Wiley was also one of Out Magazine’s OUT100 in 2017 for her work and the visibility she brought as an out woman of color.

“Samira Wiley’s moving and heartfelt portrayals of LGBTQ women have been groundbreaking and inspirational,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO. “We live in a time when those living at multiple marginalized intersections are most in need of visibility, and Samira brings that visibility with talent, conviction, and grace.”

In January, GLAAD announced 125 nominees in 21 English-language categories and 16 Spanish-language nominees in 4 categories. The nominees for the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards were announced during the Sundance Film Festival by actors Wilson Cruz (“13 Reasons Why,” “Star Trek: Discovery”) and Trace Lysette (“Transparent”). Nominees across entertainment and news media included This Is UsCall Me by Your NameLady BirdBattle of the SexesA Fantastic WomanBillionsThe VoiceWill & GraceAndi Mack, Halsey, Kesha, Kehlani, Teen VogueThe Daily Show with Trevor NoahNBC Nightly News, HuffPost, and CNN en Español. GLAAD announced a Special Recognition Award for Jay-Z’s song and music video “Smile” featuring his mother Gloria Carter who used the song to come out as a lesbian as well as a Special Recognition Award to the animated short film In A Heartbeat. Nominees can be found here.

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