The 26th Annual Webby Awards honored various internet visionaries and activists at Cipriani Wall Street on May 16th.
This year’s annual event returned for the in-person ceremony following a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event was hosted by comedian Roy Wood Jr who opened the night with a tone-setting monologue with hilarious anecdotes and talked about how the internet, along with The Webby Awards, has evolved over the last 26 years. Some prominent attendees gave Webby 5-Word Speeches such as Megan Thee Stallion, Big Bird, Laverne Cox, Drew Barrymore, Adam Scott, Gordon Ramsay, etc. The recent events between Ukraine and Russia lead to an emotional address presented by Martine Powers, host of the Washington Posts, Post Reports Podcast, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Information Mykhailo Fedorov stated that the Internet has proved to be a key component of Ukraine’s efforts, and The Webby Awards recognized that. “Tech is the future, and the future belongs to us,” Fedorov said, “Ukraine will win; it is only a matter of time.”
The evening ended with a moving tribute for the Webby Social Movement of The Year by the organizers of the Say Gay movement. They are bringing attention to recent bills that have been dicussued in multiple locations. This bill will ban public school teachers from having classroom instructions about sexual orientation or gender identity. Legislation such as these advance homophobia and threaten LGBTQ+ rights in Florida and across the United States. Presenters Tan France and Tig Nataro, each delivered passionate 5-Word Speeches: “We will not be silenced,” Will Larkins; “We will vote DeSantis out,” Jack Petocz; “We will keep saying gay,” Abbie Garretson; “This, here, is queer revolution,” Javier Gomez.
Highlights from this year’s Webby Awards Show include:
Megan Thee Stallion accepted the Webby Artist of the Year Award (presented by her Legendary co-star Law Roach) for her use of the Internet to blaze artistic trails and to advocate for Black women to be confident, respected and protected. Her 5-Word Speech was “Take bans off our bodies.”
Laverne Cox accepted her Advocate of the Year Special Achievement Award, presented by Soledad O’Brien, honoring her tireless efforts championing for awareness and equal rights. Her 5-Word Speech Was “Transgender. Unstoppable. Beautiful. Belongs. Everywhere.” The award was selected by a panel chaired by the NAACP and IADAS.
Ben Stiller presented Adam Scott the Webby Best Actor Award for his incredible and versatile performance in the disturbing, dystopian workplace drama AppleTV+ seriesSeverance. His 5-Word Speech was “Supreme Court, eat my shorts.”
Creative Director and Producer, Set Free presented Takashi Murakami the Webby Special Achievement Award for his lifelong career creating experimental art, and for bringing his talents to the new frontier of NFT art, notably through his CloneX NFT drop with RTFKT Studios and his upcoming MURAKAMI.FLOWERS. His 5-Word Speech was “Geek, nerd, otaku, game, art.”
Drew Barrymore accepted a Special Achievement Award, presented by Patrick Starrr, for bringing joy to the Internet with her incredible success in entertaining online audiences everywhere, and for connecting consumers with the high-quality, direct-to-consumer brands Beautiful Kitchenware and Flower Beauty. Her 5-Word Speech was “Social media is a wild ride.”
Veteran tech journalist, Laurie Segall, presented the inventors of the NFT, Anil Dash & Kevin McCoy with the Webby Lifetime Achievement Award for developing a block-chain powered way for artists to own and monetize digital work, which laid the groundwork for what would be known as Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). They each delivered a 5 Word Speech, “Finally, finally everybody caught on,” added Kevin, and Anil restated Prince’s 2006 iconic speech, “Everything you think is true.”
Professor Anita Hill accepted the Webby Award for her Public Service & Activism, General Series (Podcasts) win for the “Because of Anita” podcast, which shines a light on her courageous testimony that paved the way for #MeToo and other social justice movements. Her 5-Word Speech was “Take equality seriously, for real.”
Big Bird accepted the Webby Award for Sesame Street’s YouTube Channel, reminding us all that you’re never too old for a bit of childlike wonderment. His 5-Word Speech was “Think big, be kind. Toodaloo.”
Gordon Ramsay accepted his People’s Voice Winner and Webby Award for his respective Food & Drink, General Social (Social) win and Food & Drink, Video Series & Channels (Video) win for his extremely helpful Ramsay in 10 cooking tutorial series. His 5-Word Speech “No cursing tonight, fuck me!”
Mark Rober accepted his Webby Award for Film & Video Person of the Year for proving that science and engineering can be both educational and entertaining, as proved by his wildly popular YouTube channel. His 5-Word Speech was “Be brave in the attempt.”
Other notable 5-Word Speeches include:
- “Please, please, please vote, seriously.” – Jordan Klepper
- “Vaccinate. I yield my time.” – Andy Slavitt
- “Find someone who inspires you.” – Elle Key
- “Be Brave. Fight for Ukraine.” – Kiril Lazarev
- “Feeding our babies, without judgment.” – Tan France and Kim Chappell of the baby formula company, Bobbie.