By Patty Kerr, Co-Founder, SeeHer
The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.
~ Viola Davis, SeeHer Award Honoree, 2017
SeeHer was born in 2016 because we saw that bias in storytelling, often unconscious, was hurting our businesses and keeping generations of women and girls from competing on a level playing field.
Storytelling, on any screen, is the lens through which society sees itself. Representation is power. This meant that the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), which enthusiastically supported us, had a unique opportunity to flip the script on diversity and inclusion. By projecting authentic, real-life portrayals of women and girls, we could create a better society and a more effective business environment.
The idea was as big as it gets. Too big to limit just to advertising.
If we wanted people to understand what the SeeHer message was all about, if we were serious about a representation revolution, if we wanted to change the world not just in front of the camera but behind it as well, we needed more.
We needed content partners.
Our friends at The Critics’ Choice Association (CCA), which broadcasts the prestigious Critics’ Choice Awards, stepped up in a big way. The CCA, whose star-studded annual telecast is historically the most accurate predictor of Academy Award nominations, graciously gave us a spot on the show every year to celebrate the SeeHer Award, honoring a woman who advocates for gender equality, portrays characters with authenticity, defies stereotypes, and pushes boundaries.
Our first honoree was a woman who would be king (Viola Davis, 2017), and subsequent award recipients included a wondrous woman (Gal Gadot, 2018), a queen (Claire Foy, 2019), a sleuth (Kristen Bell, 2020), a desert warrior (Zendaya, 2021), and an Academy Award history-maker (Halle Berry, 2022).
On January 15, eight-time Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, producer, performer, and actor Janelle Monáe received the seventh annual SeeHer Award at the 28th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards broadcast, presented by her Glass Onion co-star Kate Hudson. As a humanitarian, Monáe was recently honored as the Suicide Prevention Advocate of the Year by The Trevor Project. Her position as a co-chair for When We All Vote, and her Fem the Future initiative, supporting other female filmmakers, inspires and empowers not only fellow creatives but society.
The partnership with CCA, close and growing, has projected our message far and wide and encouraged others to join us. The seven remarkable people who have won the SeeHer Award are impatient change agents transforming the social narrative and advocating for evolution in their personal lives and in their careers.
It was a good beginning. Let’s make it even better as we take it and the SeeHer movement forward.
To be heard, you must be seen.
I challenge you to see you.
~ Janelle Monáe, SeeHer Award Honoree, 2023