Banff World Media Festival reveals 2021 Rockie Award gala recipients

From a media release:

The Banff World Media Festival (BANFF) is proud to unveil this year’s exciting lineup of the Rockie Award Gala recipients including Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live, Kenan), Danielle Brooks (Mahalia, Orange is the New Black), Simu Liu (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Kim’s Convenience), Sinking Ship Entertainment and the team from ARRAY (Selma, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open) represented by Ava DuVernay, Tilane Jones, Regina Miller, Tammy Garnes & Dee Tuck.

Hosting the Festival’s flagship awards program is Jasmeet Raina, one of Canada’s most popular comedic talents and YouTube personality. The Rockie Awards ceremony, including both the International Program Competition winners and the Rockies Gala honours will stream live on YouTube at 3pm ET on Tuesday, June 15th

Rockies Gala Awards to be bestowed include:

SIR PETER USTINOV AWARD: Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live, Kenan)

The award recognizes a creative talent who has made an outstanding comedic contribution to the media industry. Past honorees include: Sean Hayes, John Cleese, Tracey Ullman, Bob Newhart, Tantoo Cardinal, John Candy and Bill Hader.

Kenan Thompson is currently in his 18th season on Saturday Night Live as the show’s longest-running cast member. He also stars in and executive produces the new NBC comedy Kenan.

Thompson has made numerous contributions to SNL with his slew of hilarious impressions that include Rev. Al Sharpton, Charles Barkley, Steve Harvey and David Ortiz, and by playing memorable characters such as DJ Dynasty Handbag, the scathingly fierce co-host of Deep House Dish, Weekend Update correspondent Jean K. Jean, Black Jeopardy host Darnell Hayes and Diondre Cole, the disruptive singing talk show host on the wildly popular sketch What Up With That. In 2018, he received the Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for the SNL song Come Back, Barack and was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 2018 and 2020.  Thompson also received an Emmy nomination in 2017 for co-writing Last Christmas from the popular Jingle Barack sketch. 

A native of Atlanta, Thompson made his television debut as a member of Nickelodeon’s all-kid sketch comedy series All That. Thompson now serves as an executive producer on Nickelodeon’s 2019 All That reboot. He and Kel Mitchell debuted on the spinoff Kenan and Kel in 1996.

His past projects include Hubie Halloween, Snakes on a Plane, Wieners and The Magic of Belle Isle. Other feature film credits include Fat Albert, D2: The Mighty Ducks, Good Burger, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Brother Nature, Heavyweights, My Boss’s Daughter, Barbershop 2, Going in Style and They Came Together.

Thompson showcased his voice talents The Grinch, Trolls World Tour, Wonder Park, The Smurfs, The Smurfs 2 and Space Chimps, and Rock Dog, the television series Sit Down, Shut Up and The Awesomes. Upcoming projects include Paramount’s Clifford the Big Red Dog and the Disney+ Home Alone reboot.

A+E INCLUSION AWARD:  Danielle Brooks (Mahalia, Orange is the New Black)

The A+E Inclusion Award recognizes an individual whose efforts and vision in media champion and reflect the diversity of the world in which we live. Past Honorees include: LeVar Burton, Jonathan Murray and Elizabeth Vargas.

Danielle Brooks is best known for her role as “Tasha ‘Taystee’ Jefferson” in the Netflix Emmy-nominated series, Orange Is The New Black. The Hollywood Reporter included Brooks’ season 7 performance in their list of ‘The Best TV Performances of 2019.’ For her performance, Brooks was nominated for a NAACP Image Award for “Best Actress in a Comedy Series” as well as a Satellite Award for “Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture made for Television.” Danielle was also the recipient of the Young Hollywood Award for “Breakthrough Actress” and nominated for a NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series”. Brooks received the Screen Actors Guild Award for “Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series” three years in a row.

Brooks made her Broadway debut in the Tony-winning revival of The Color Purple. For her performance, she was nominated for a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, and received a Grammy Award and Theatre World Award for “Significant Broadway Debut.” 

Brooks most recently starred as ‘Mahalia Jackson’ in Robin Roberts Presents: The Mahalia Jackson Story on Lifetime. The biopic, directed by Kenny Leon, traced Jackson’s life and career as she became arguably the best-known gospel singer in the mid-20th century and a civil rights activist who sang at the 1963 March on Washington. Brooks is currently filming HBO Max’s Suicide Squad spin-off Series Peacemaker in which she will play ‘Leota Adebayo.’

Brooks appeared in Netflix’s docuseries titled A Little Bit Pregnant The docuseries aired on Netflix’s YouTube and social media pages and followed Brooks’ pregnancy journey as she asked and answered all the questions on soon-to-be parents’ minds.

Recent work includes a leading role in Chris Morris’ Clemency opposite Alfre Woodard, Wendell Pierce and Aldis Hodge, a leading role in the independent feature All The Little Things We Kill, a leading role in the independent feature, Sadie opposite Melanie Lynsky, a series lead role in the upcoming TBS primetime animated series Close Enough, a recurring role on Aziz Ansari’s Emmy-winning, Netflix comedy series, Master of None and guest leading roles on HBO’s High Maintenance and Girls. Brooks also voiced two characters for Sony’s Angry Birds, and previously starred in Oren Moverman’s Time Out Of Mind and the independent feature, I Dream Too Much, which premiered at SXSW. 

Brooks released her four-track EP entitled Four in 2019. She co-wrote the four songs, which include “Seasons,” which was featured in the series finale of Orange Is The New Black.

In 2019, Brooks was one of the faces of Lane Bryant’s “I’m No Angel” Campaign alongside Ashley Graham and released a clothing line with Universal Standard. Danielle was the face of Christian Siriano’s debut Spring capsule collection for Lane Bryant and was the face of Lane Bryant’s Fall Campaign that same year.

Brooks is on the Artistic Board of Urban Arts Partnership, which advances the intellectual, social and artistic development of underserved public-school students through arts-integrated education programs to close the achievement gap.

Brooks grew up in South Carolina and is a graduate of The Julliard School. She currently resides in NYC.

CANADIAN AWARD OF DISTINCTION: Simu Liu (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Kim’s Convenience)

Presented by the Canada Media Fund (CMF/FMC) and MadeNous, the award is given to a Canadian whose body of work exemplifies outstanding achievement in the entertainment industry. Past Honorees include:  Just For Laughs, Eric McCormack, Kim Cattrall and Sheila Hockin.

Simu Liu is a Canadian-Chinese talent who is Marvel’s next leading man in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opposite Tony Leung and Awkwafina. He most recently wrapped a leading role opposite Mark Wahlberg in Simon Cellan Jones/Lionsgate’s Arthur the King. He can be seen in Lissette Feliciano’s SXSW directorial debut, Women Is Losers.

He’s most well-known for his starring role as ‘Jung’ in the CBC/Netflix hit, Kim’s Convenience. Other credits include Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens, Fresh Off the Boat, The Expanse, Designated Survivor, Taken, Blood & Water, and Orphan Black. He is an outspoken activist, passionate on Asian representation, identity and culture.

INNOVATIVE PRODUCER AWARD: Sinking Ship Entertainment (Dino Dana, Odd Squad, Endlings)

Presented by Lionsgate, the Innovative Producer Award recognizes the entrepreneurial excellence and achievements of an independent producer in TV/digital media. Past honorees include: Wattpad Studios, Scott Brothers Entertainment, New Metric Media, Wolf + Rabbit, Don Carmody and marblemedia.

Sinking Ship Entertainment is a multi-award-winning production, distribution, and interactive company specializing in family and kids’ live-action and CGI-blended content. Since its founding in 2004 by J.J. Johnson, Blair Powers and Matt Bishop, Sinking Ship has produced more than 17 series and 500 hours of content, distributed to more than 200 countries around the world. With a global reputation for quality, groundbreaking original series and companion interactive experiences, Sinking Ship has won 21 Daytime Emmy® Awards, including Outstanding Pre-School Children’s Series for Dino Dan: Trek’s Adventures (Nickelodeon), Outstanding Children’s or Family Viewing for Odd Squad (PBS KIDS), Outstanding Children’s or Family Viewing for Ghostwriter (Apple TV+) and Outstanding Education or Informational Series for Giver (ION). International awards include a 2019 BAFTA for Odd Squad and multiple Canadian Screen Awards, Youth Media Alliance Awards, Parents Choice Awards, the Shaw Rocket Prize, and the Prix Jeunesse International. In 2020, Sinking Ship was also named as the number one Kids’ Entertainment Production Company on Kidscreen’s Hot50 list. Among the series currently in production are the third season of the worldwide success, Odd Squad, as well as the upcoming new series, Jane, inspired by and co-produced alongside renowned primatologist Jane Goodall. Currently in pre-production is the series Builder Brothers Dream Factory, in partnership with Scott Brothers Entertainment. In addition to its critically-acclaimed productions, Sinking Ship operates a cutting-edge VFX and Interactive Studio, creating multi-platform digital experiences and interactive content for audiences around the globe. For more information, visit the Sinking Ship website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER IMPACT AWARD:  The team from ARRAY (Selma, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, Lingua Franca) includingAva DuVernay, Tilane Jones, Regina Miller, Tammy Garnes & Dee Tuck

This award is bestowed annually to an individual or group who has made a significant and impactful contribution to screen-based entertainment. Past honorees include: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, David Shore, accepting on behalf of ​The Good Doctor; Anthony Anderson, accepting on behalf of ​black-ish; and Justin Simien accepting on behalf of Dear White People.

The narrative change non-profit organization ARRAY Alliance has launched ARRAY Crew, a personnel database for Hollywood’s below-the-line crew members with a special focus on the amplification of women, people of color and other underrepresented film and television professionals. Created by filmmaker Ava DuVernay and led by an all-women executive team, ARRAY Crew currently boasts nearly 6,000 crew members and more than 300 productions utilizing the database. Production partners have access to search and view profiles for diverse below-the-line talent, enabling hiring managers and line producers to find thousands of candidates across 500+ job titles in over 45 departments on a per project basis. ARRAY Crew is supported by every major studio and streaming service, including founding partner WarnerMedia, Amazon Studios, Apple TV+, FOX, Lionsgate, NBC Universal, Netflix, Paramount Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment, ViacomCBS and Walt Disney Studios. ARRAY Crew currently features U.S. based profiles with plans to expand to select international markets in late 2021.

“This year’s Rockies Gala honourees exemplify not just incredible work, but also contributions to the entertainment industry and to society,” said Jenn Kuzmyk, Executive Director of the Banff World Media Festival. “Each recipient has demonstrated excellence, innovation, creativity and empathy, making choices about the projects they work on and the impact that they can have on the world. We are honoured to recognize such outstanding talent.”    

Additional awards to be presented at the ceremony include:

PROGRAM OF THE YEAR: The Program of the Year award is presented to an outstanding, critically acclaimed, ground-breaking, and/or highly rated program from within the last calendar year. Past recipients include: This is Us, Handmaid’s Tale, Making a Murderer and Surviving R. Kelly.

THE GRAND JURY PRIZE: The Grand Jury Prize is awarded to the highest scoring project in the Rockies Program Competition by the festival’s specially appointed Grand Jury of industry executives. Past recipients include:  Big Little Lies, Planet Earth II and Sharp Objects.

In addition, the Festival is arranging virtual Rockie Awards Roundtables with select nominees from programs such as: Alone, Love on the Spectrum, Filthy Rich and Homeless, The Last Ice, Noughts + Crosses, I May Destroy You, About Sex, El Presidente and more. More details will be available in the coming weeks on the full agenda HERE.

Taking place online from June 14 – July 16, the Banff World Media Festival attracts the world’s top creators, producers, showrunners, talent, networks, studios, streamers, press, and media companies. The 2021 virtual edition of the Festival is poised to build on the success of last year’s virtual event, with an all-new purpose-built online platform that will facilitate thousands of real-time meetings, chat, personalized video suites, a project lounge, multiple events, keynotes, master classes and panels as well as a thriving online delegate lounge. It is the world’s most effective online market for development, co-productions, and business development, connecting the global media industry to ignite new projects and support new ventures.