Aziz Ansari, Justin Theroux on What it Means to be Honored by Peabody Awards
'Black-ish's' Kenya Barris, 'Unreal's' Shiri Appleby and the team behind HBO's Robert Durst documentary series 'The Jinx' also talked about what it's like to win.
Keegan-Michael Key may have been the host for this year's Peabody Awards, which taped last month in New York and will air in an edited form Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Pivot, but he made it clear ahead of the ceremony that the night wasn't about him.
"I want myself to make a platform for the honorees tonight. It's gotta be about them," Key told The Hollywood Reporter. "They've put their blood and their sweat and their heart and their soul into these stories, and they are actually stories that can change the way our citizenry sees society, change the way people approach other humans, make people empathize with other people, so I want it to be less about me and more about the work that they've done — the staggeringly important work that I think they've done."
The people behind the 2016 winners — programs such as UnREAL, Black-ish, Master of None, The Leftovers and HBO's Robert Durst documentary series The Jinx — indicated that they were humbled by the honor that, as Black-ish showrunner Kenya Barris put it, is considered "the Pulitzer for television."
THR asked honorees as they walked the red carpet before the Cipriani Wall Street event what a Peabody Award win means to them. Here's what they said:
Barris: "I feel like as a writer, this is as rewarding of an award as you can possibly get. I hate flying — I got on a plane to come here. It kind of feels like you're being honored a little bit by your peers, the people in your world, who do what you do, a little bit of an academic version, I guess. It's a great honor, honestly."
The Jinx's Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling:
Smerling: "I think it's kind of the creme de la creme. Obviously we like when the television industry and other people in the arts honor us, but this is really important because it's a journalistic award. For us, I think it feels really clarifying."
Jarecki: "It's somehow a little simpler because there's a board of jurors and you're being judged by journalists and people who are in your field ... whereas I think some other awards you're dealing with a very large body of the population like the Academy or something like that. But this is a serious award, and it's … about the work."
Smerling: "Doing a doc series for television, especially one that's really popular, there are people out there who would say, 'You guys are doing entertainment.' But I know that Andrew and I feel very strongly that what we're doing is documentaries and it's a journalistic pursuit, so it's nice to be honored this way."
The Jinx's Jason Blum, who also executive produced fellow Peabody winner How to Dance in Ohio: "I never expected to win a Peabody, to say nothing of two, and I'm just very humbled and flattered and honored and I think it's really important and I'm thrilled. … [At Blumhouse Productions] we mostly do scary movies, but we also try to do things that make the world a better place, and hopefully both of these two projects do that — that's why we set out to do them."
Master of None's Aziz Ansari: "[We make] these shows just to make something that you're proud of and you'd be thrilled to show your friends, and when you get awards and things it's just kind of a nice icing on the cake. It's very nice and flattering to be recognized. I know that sounds like a silly answer, but I mean it."
Master of None's Alan Yang: "It's unbelievable. I mean this is an award that just kind of blows my mind because I worked on two previous shows, South Park and Parks and Rec, and both of those guys, when they won their Peabody Awards they were like, 'This is the most meaningful one because it's interdisciplinary, it's all of these really cool, important people doing work that's outside of the normal Hollywood stuff that we usually go to so it was really cool.' I was thrilled when I found out."
The Leftovers' Justin Theroux: "It means a lot. It means an enormous amount for our show. I just know how hard Damon [Lindelof] and Tom [Perrotta and Tom Spezialy] work on our show. It's one of those honors, like my mom was one of the first people to call me like, 'You won a Peabody?' It's nice to get out of that L.A. thing and [be in] New York [for more] cross-spectrum awards. It's a wonderful feeling, especially after all the hard work."
UnREAL's Sarah Gertrude Shapiro: "We'd always hoped to do something with a lot of social relevance and also really entertaining, and so the fact that we've been awarded for doing something socially relevant is kind of game-changing for us."
UnREAL's Shiri Appleby: "It's unbelievable. It feels like this is sort of the best-case version of the show. I think we just wanted to make something good and that people would watch and the fact that it's gained so much attention has just been mind-blowing."