Haroon, the creator of Burka Avenger, makes an acceptance speech at the Peabody Award Ceremony in New York
The creator of the Burka Avenger TV Series, Aaron Haroon Rashid with Samantha Stendal at the Peabody Awards Ceremony
The annual Peabody Awards luncheon Monday honored a record-breaking 46 winners for excellence in electronic media in 2013. Famous Pakistani musician Haroon, picked up the George Foster Peabody Award in New York for the TV series Burka Avenger on behalf of Unicorn Black. Burka Avenger is Pakistan’s first ever full length 3D animated series and was produced by Haroon’s production company, Unicorn Black in Islamabad, Pakistan. This is the first time a Pakistani production has won this prestigious award. The series was first aired on Geo Tez on July 28th 2013.
The Peabody Awards, the oldest award in broadcasting, recognizes excellence in the electronic media. About 30–40 winners are selected annually from over a 1,000 entries worldwide. Other winners this year include Breaking Bad by AMC / Sony Pictures TV and House of Cards by Netflix.
“The only criterion for winning is the simplest one out there, and that’s excellence,” said host Ira Glass, the creator of a radio show that won its fifth Peabody this year for “This American Life.” “What you’re going to see today are shows that invented something new in broadcasting or storytelling, that told stories that nobody told before, that said something that needed to be said, stories made with such fantastic heart and skill that they just stick with you,” he told the audience assembled at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.
The Peabody website calls Burka Avenger “Smart, colorful and provocative, this Pakistani-produced television program about a super-heroine sends a clear message about female empowerment that has the potential to affect an entire generation.”
The Burka Avenger series is the brainchild of Pakistani rock star and social activist Aaron Haroon Rashid (aka Haroon) who conceived of it as a way to emphasize women empowerment, the importance of girls’ education and teach children other lessons such as equality and non-discrimination. He said that the success of the wholly produced in Pakistan series is a testament to the level of Pakistani talent.
Speaking at the Award Ceremony in New York, Haroon said:
“Thank you so much. It’s been a long journey to get here. And I mean that literally as well, it was a 20 hour flight from Pakistan. But thank you so much, this truly is a great honor to be recognized like this.
This award goes to my incredibly talented team at Unicorn Black in Pakistan for making this beautiful show. In the TV series, Burka Avenger fights for women empowerment and education for girls. She is a fictional character but she represents something very real in terms of the dreams, aspirations and challenges of the people of Pakistan and many around the world. Burka Avenger stands for justice, tolerance, peace and education for all. And thank you in Pakistan’s language Urdu is bauhat bauhat shukriya.”
In an interview immediately after the show Haroon further went out to say
“Well it’s an incredible honor, it’s a great feeling to be recognized. This is a Pakistani show and we’re here alongside some of the big incredible shows from the U.S. and huge budget shows and we’re a small budget show all the way from Pakistan. So it’s wonderful that Pakistani talent is being recognized. It’s a great honor.”
Burka Avenger has also received other international accolades including the Rising Star Award at the Canada International Film Festival. Time Magazine named the Burka Avenger character as one of the most influential fictional characters of 2013.