Highlights: CBS' Survivor: Game Changers Receives GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Reality Program

Award presented by Jackie and Juliet Evancho and Frankie Grande
May 4, 2018

Matt Goodman
Associate Director of Communications, GLAAD
(646) 871-8028

New York, New York – GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, today announced that CBS’ Survivor: Game Changers received the GLAAD Media Award in the Outstanding Reality Program category. The announcement came during the GLAAD Rising Stars Luncheon at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York. The Rising Stars event empowers and invests in the next generation of LGBTQ change makers, whose advocacy is changing their local communities and the culture at large. GLAAD also presented Rising Stars grants to three LGBTQ college students during the event. GLAAD will host the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards tomorrow, Saturday, May 5, where additional GLAAD Media Awards recipients will be announced.

Survivor: Game Changers was nominated alongside Viceland’s Gaycation with Ellen Page, TLC’s I Am Jazz, VH1’s Rupaul’s Drag Race, and NBC’s The Voice. The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of LGBTQ community and the issues that affect their lives.

Accepting the award on behalf of Survivor: Game Changers was contestant Zeke Smith. Survivor: Game Changers was Smith's second consecutive season, and during a heated tribal council, another player told the tribe that Smith was a transgender man and accused him of being deceptive simply because he had not disclosed his gender history to the other players. Fortunately, Smith's tribemates immediately understood that Smith was not deceptive simply because he played as his authentic self and that outing someone is wrong. GLAAD worked closely with CBS and Smith to ensure that when the episode aired, Smith would have the opportunity to speak for himself about his experience. The award was presented by Jackie Evancho (singer), Juliet Evancho (trans advocate), and Frankie Grande (television personality).

While accepting the award, Smith said: “My grand public outing made global headlines. Together, we changed millions of people’s perceptions of transgender people. We shattered stereotypes. We created a worldwide conversation about privacy and respect. Over the past year, I’ve met a lot of trans kids. Transitioning in middle and high school is hard. I see these kids struggling to retain hope that they’ll have an equal shot in the world. LGBTQ visibility on television matters because for many it is the only chance to glimpse their future. And to see that it is very bright.”

“Reality television has long been at the forefront of LGBTQ inclusion on the small screen, and Survivor: Game Changers continued that legacy with its thoughtful and responsible handling of Zeke Smith’s story,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO. “By ensuring that Zeke would have the opportunity to share his story in his own words, the show sparked a national conversation about the trans community.”

The GLAAD Rising Stars program was presented by Barilla, Comcast NBCUniversal | Telemundo, Delta Air Lines, Turner, and Wells Fargo. Actor Nico Tortorella hosted the event, with a performance by Parson James, and appearances by Auli’I Cravalho (Rise), Ellie Desautels (Rise), Joshua Rush (Andi Mack), Milk (RuPaul’s Drag Race), and activist Blair Imani.

At the Luncheon, GLAAD also announced the college students who will receive Rising Stars Grants for projects that use media to accelerate LGBTQ acceptance. The 2018 recipients of the Rising Stars Grants in New York included diverse, intersectional artists and advocates Priscila Alegria Nunez, Kosoko Jackson, and Akila Prayaga.

The GLAAD Rising Stars Luncheon commences the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York, which will take place on May 5 at the New York Hilton Midtown. GLAAD previously announced that it will honor Ava DuVernay, Samira Wiley, and JAY-Z’s mother Gloria Carter at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, hosted by Ross Mathews with special appearances by Halsey, Alexis Bledel, Laverne Cox, Lea Michele, Tituss Burgess, Nyle DiMarco, Wrabel, and Asia Kate Dillon.

At the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles, held on April 12 at the Beverly Hilton, GLAAD announced the award recipients in 12 GLAAD Media Award categories. They are: This Is Us (Outstanding Drama Series), Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Outstanding Comedy Series), "Thanksgiving" Master of None (Outstanding Individual Episode [in a series without a regular LGBTQ character]), Andi Mack (Outstanding Kids & Family Programming), A Fantastic Woman (Outstanding Film – Limited Release), When We Rise (Outstanding TV Movie or Limited Series), Black Panther: World of Wakanda (Outstanding Comic Book), The Bold and The Beautiful (Outstanding Daily Drama), “Why Bisexual Men Are Still Fighting to Convince Us They Exist” by Samantha Allen (Outstanding Digital Journalism Article), TransGriot (Outstanding Blog), Las Chicas Del Cable (Outstanding Scripted Television Series - Spanish Language), “Tres Hermanitos Para Dos Papás” by Jacqueline García (Outstanding Digital Journalism - Spanish Language). GLAAD also honored Britney Spears with the Vanguard Award and Jim Parsons with the Stephen F. Kolzak Award. GLAAD announced a Special Recognition Award for the animated short film In A Heartbeat. Nominees may be found here: www.glaad.org/mediaawards/nominees

To receive the latest updates on the GLAAD Media Awards, follow @glaad on Twitter and use the hashtag #glaadawards.