The Television Industry Advocacy Awards benefiting The Creative Coalition, hosted by TV Guide Magazine and TV Insider, honored Tony Hale (Veep), Michael Kelly (House of Cards), Dancing With the Stars pro Derek Hough, lifestyle expert Sandra Lee, Niecy Nash (Scream Queens), Dean Norris (Breaking Bad), Reid Scott (Veep) and Transparent creator Jill Soloway on Friday night. The event, sponsored by BBVA Compass Bank, was held at the Sunset Tower Hotel in West Hollywood.
The TIAA paid tribute to the stars’ philanthropic activities, and each recipient was presented their award by a friend: Joel McHale presented to Hale; Constance Zimmer presented to Kelly; Kym Johnson and Robert Herjavec presented to Hough; UNICEF president Caryl Stern presented to Lee; the ceremony's host, The Goldbergs’ Wendi McLendon-Covey, presented to Nash; Betsy Brandt presented to Norris; Ben Feldman presented to Scott; and Michaela Watkins presented to Soloway. (Pictured above are Hough, Norris, Brandt and Nash.)
Several of the stars pointed to their parents’ influence as a reason they've used their platform to make positive changes. Hough brought his father, Bruce, on stage with him to say a few words about the charities they champion: “He’s a firm believer in creating, not destroying; believing, not doubting and being a force for good. I think that’s a basis for it all: being a force for good. And if you can give service, to give service.” (The Emmy-winning choreographer made good on his word: He offered to help any of the other recipients with their charities of choice if they ever needed it.)
Soloway, whose groundbreaking series was based on her father coming out as trans late in life, acknowledged the process of writing the pilot was initially “just trying to write my way out of shame.” And now, she’s using her position of power to make sure the underrepresented have a voice. “
When we create protagonism for people who are normally otherized, people who are the objects of cis white male storylines…a lot of time when white, cis males are making their work, they're objectifying women, people of color, queer people, trans people,” Soloway said. “They’re turning them into objects in their own journeys. And so anybody who is a position to hire people to write, direct, create, put the queer person in the center, not the object. Offer your access to the person of color to be the creator, the writer, the generator. Respect them when they tell you what their experiences are like.”
She also offered up a concrete way to employ more trans people in the industry: Soloway has helped cultivate a database of available trans workers in various entertainment specialties. “It’s an economic justice problem: trans people can’t get hired,” she stressed. “And we created a a giant database, and I want to offer it to all of you…I can offer you trans actors, trans writers, trans PAs, trans make-up people, trans people who are fantastic and just want to learn. I want to share that database because they don’t have an organization like people of color and women who are bringing them up in the industry.”
Nash marveled at receiving the award—“I just don't know how you get honored for doing what we should do,” she said—and she pointed out the importance of being helpful on a daily basis. “I’ve never been on a set and not gotten someone a job, or prayed with someone who is going through a hard time,” she said. “You show up and you serve.”
The evening concluded with a performance by country musician Tyler Dial.