Last week Thursday, London’s Hackney Empire hosted the 2012 Creative Diversity Network (CDN) Awards. Anchored by BBC News presenter Jane Hill, the ceremony aimed to celebrate content that embraced onscreen diversity, breakthrough talent as well as the achievements across the broadcasting industry. The room was filled with familiar faces including Ricky Norwood and Tameka Empson (EastEnders), Chris Bisson (Emmerdale) and Charlie Condou (Coronation Street), while the likes of Krishnan Guru Murthy, Lenny Henry and Doreen Lawrence were on hand to present the awards.

So without further ado, let’s get started! Acting Director General of the BBC Tim Davie kicked off proceedings with some humour saying how quiet his week had been. Nothing was going to overshadow this night – not even a huge crisis involving a national broadcaster. He set the tone by highlighting the diversity-led activities the CDN had been involved in, from their successful mentoring opportunities to initiatives such as the Emmerdale BAME writers scheme. He also had a couple of exclusive announcements up his sleeve.  The BBC are set to launch two brand new initiatives; Transcomedy, which will develop comedic talent from the transgender community and The Company, which will focus on securing opportunities for disabled actors. Be sure to keep a look out for more information on these new initiatives and how to get involved. This year, it was great to see so many schemes spring up from all of the main broadcasters and by the looks of it, the momentum is not slowing down.

I guess you want to find out who picked up awards right? Well the talented and absolutely stunning Zawe Ashton picked up the award for Best Breakthrough On-Screen Talent for her role as Vod in Channel 4’s hit Fresh Meat. However, her poise and grace was a far cry from her character in the show! Zawe, who was actually raised in Hackney, became emotional as she thanked everyone for their support and told the mentees in the room to keep on pursuing their careers in television. With a recent BAFTA study claiming that many young people are discouraged from careers in the industry, this was some much needed encouragement. Seeing how emotional and thankful Zawe was is testament to the fact that the CDN Awards are important and to be recognised by them is considered by all as a huge honour.

Best News Coverage went to ITN for ITV London and Sophia Kichou for her report on London’s Young Homeless. Sophia was part of ITN and the Media Trust’s Breaking into News scheme, which aims to mentor and develop young journalistic talent. This is another example of how outreach and mentoring schemes like this really help to open doors and discover talent that would otherwise go unnoticed. Breaking into News recently put out a call for a new intake so if you’re interested, click here for more info. Speaking of talent schemes, the BBC’s Vision Intake Pool scooped up the award for Best Diversity Initiative. Set up in 2009, the scheme was central to a shift at the BBC where diversity became an even bigger priority.

You can’t have a diversity award ceremony without at least one mention of Channel 4’s broadcast activity around this year’s Paralympic Games. The first came when The Last Leg won the Best Comedy and Entertainment Award. One of the presenters Alex Brooker collected the gong and sang the show’s praises for approaching disability in a way it had not been done before and for being “bloody funny” while doing it! More on the Paralympics later…

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