The winners of the 2020 Visionary Honours Awards

Scarlette Douglas, Presenter

Due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic this year’s event was postponed and replaced by a virtual award ceremony. It still however provided an inspirational and entertaining evening for all those watching from home during lockdown. TV presenter Scarlette Douglas was the host, and delivered the opening monologue on behalf of founder, Adrian Grant:

“The Visionary Honours celebrate culture, media and entertainment that has inspired social change and debate.

All of the nominees and winners of this year’s awards have made an impact by either altering public perceptions, changing attitudes, helping others or breaking down industry barriers. Their work and achievements are outstanding examples of how the arts can make a difference in society from issues such as diversity and equality to mental health and youth crime.

There is a saying that ‘we are what we eat’. Well that’s also true of the arts. We are what we consume and in today’s digital age where media can be so easily created, distributed and digested by constantly connected online communities it is important to reflect on the quality and the substance of our broadcast diets.

These awards shine a light on authors, directors, producers, performers and creators whom have used their platform to inspire social change or given a voice to those marginalised and misrepresented.

The Visionary Arts Foundation was launched to help open doors in the creative industries for young talent aged 16-29, empowering a new generation of story tellers that will influence positive social change via film, music, literature, theatre and digital media.

Right now what we need more than ever is kindness, tolerance and understanding, and all of our nominees have shown this and more changing our consciousness and the landscapes in which we live, from local communities to continents all over the world.”

And now here is the list of our 2020 winners:


Proud curated by Juno Dawson (Stripes Publishing)
A stirring, bold and moving anthology of stories and poetry by YA authors and illustrators responding to the broad theme of pride, PROUD is a rainbow-riotous celebration of LGBTQ+ talent. Each piece of writing has an accompanying illustration by an artist identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Juno said, “I was SHOOKETH when I got the call to say we’d won this. I accepted on behalf of all the authors and Illustrators who took part and I dedicate this award to the trans youth of the UK who deserve so much better from the cis adults in charge.”

She went on to say, “I think it’s more important than ever that LGBTQ youth are able to read about themselves in stories because they are a part of this world.”

George the Poet
Artist, poet, rapper, and podcast host George the Poet’s innovative brand of musical poetry has won him critical acclaim both as a recording artist and a social commentator. Last year, he turned down an MBE, saying: “I see myself as student, admirer and friend of Britain, however the colonial trauma inflicted on the children of Africa, entrenched across our geo-political and macro-economic realities, prevents me from accepting the title Member of the British Empire.”

George commented: “‘I put a lot of work in to give you the best story and most well-researched story that I can. Thank you for this Visionary Honour.”

Jesy Nelson – Odd one Out (BBC3)
Little Mix star Jesy Nelson goes on a journey of rehabilitation as she opens up about abuse she has suffered at the hands of cyberbullies and its effects on her mental health. When Jesy Nelson rose to fame with pop band Little Mix, she was abused online for being ‘the fat one’.

Jesy accepted the award: “I am absolutely flabbergasted. Thank you so, so much to every single person who has voted for this.”

Producer October Films said: “Jesy wanted to make the film to help other people suffering from online abuse and bullying like she did.  Cyberbullying is a real issue that affects not only celebrities but so many young people out there and we are pleased the Visionary Arts Foundation has recognized our film for highlighting the subject and having an impact.  Hopefully the film has caused a discussion in society about how social media platforms should be managed better and young people need to be protected from bullies and trolls.”

SIX (Lucy Moss/Jamie Armitage, Arts Theatre)
Written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, with direction by Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage. The six wives of Henry VIII take to the mic to tell their tales, remixing five hundred years of historical heartbreak into a 75-minute celebration of 21st century girl power.

Lucy said, “It means so much to be recognised in this way because inspiring social change and debate through theatre is the number one thing that is important about making theatre.”

Ross Kemp Living With… (ITV/Mongoose Productions)
In this groundbreaking series, Ross Kemp travels across the country to meet people living with some of the biggest issues affecting Britain today. He delves deep into issues such as homelessness, knife crime, young carers and more.

On being nominated, Ross Kemp said: “At a time when the country was preoccupied with Brexit, the team felt that it was more important than ever to shine a light on social issues that were affecting Britons’ lives in profound and often devastating ways; crises that need to be determinedly addressed whichever political direction we head in. To have been shortlisted for the Visionary Awards, and to be in such esteemed company, feels like a vindication of the choice to tackle complex, and sometimes uncomfortable, subjects.”

Receiving the award he commented, “It truly means a lot to us… We’ve agreed to get together as soon as the lockdown is over and have a few beers!”

BLACK – Dave
The first single from Dave’s debut album, ‘Black’ is about his experience of being a black-British, Nigerian, south Londoner and about the growing trend of speaking of a single ‘black experience’ when, in fact, that experience contains multitudes of distinction.

The award was collected by the esteemed producer, Fraser T. Smith, who collaborated with Dave on the song and album. On receiving the award Fraser said, “Thank you also to the Visionary Arts Foundation for making the world more emphatic, equal, caring, warm, kind, in a world that can often be very hard and selfish and cruel.”

Blue Story
A film about rival gangs in Peckham and Lewisham which offers real insights into Britain’s wider knife crime epidemic from writer and director Rapman.

Junior Afolabi Salokun, who stars in the film, said, “A big thank you… We are proud and honoured to be film of the year.”

June Sarpong
The BBC’s first Director of Creative Diversity is dedicated to initiating constitutional change within one of Britain’s most-loved institutions. She has written exhaustively about the benefits of inclusion and diversity in novels such as Diversify, The Power of Women and Diversify: An Award-winning Guide to why Inclusion is Better for Everyone. She is a tireless campaigner for diversity and change and lives out the values of the Visionary Honours.

June said, “I’m so grateful to be recognised and honoured.”

Sulaiman Khan – This Ability Ltd
Sulaiman is the founder of This Ability Limited, which is a disability-led equity consultancy. He works tirelessly to destabilise the accepted narratives of creativity and disability, for disabled creatives to change the culture to make equity the default.

Sulaiman said, “I accept this award on behalf of disabled people across the world…I am using my power and privilege to speak for those who can’t. Because family is everything. And my disabled global family is everything to me”

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