19th Annual GLAAD Media Awards
May 10, 2008 - Marriott Hotel
San Francisco

Introductory speech for Ilene Chaiken, recipient of the Davdison/Valentini Award

Jennifer: "Good evening. It's truly wonderful to be back in San Francisco. I'm here tonight to present GLAAD's Davidson/Valentini Award. Named after GLAAD's first executive director, Craig Davidson, and his partner Michael Valentini, this prize is given annually to an openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting LGBT equality. Tonight we bestow this prestigious honor on my beloved boss, The L Word creator, executive producer and director Ilene Chaiken.

Born and raised in the Philadelphia suburbs, Ilene moved to Los Angeles in the 1980s and was openly gay within the entertainment industry from the start. Working first as a trainee at the Creative Artists' Agency, she subsequently took creative executive positions with two legends: Aaron Spelling and Quincy Jones. But ultimately writing proved to be Ilene's true love. Her early credits include the acclaimed telepics Damaged Care and Dirty Pictures which won the 2000 Golden Globe Award for best television movie. Her feature film work includes Barb Wire, a cult favorite starring Pamela Anderson. Thankful for these early successes but frustrated that her own community was sorely mis- or unrepresented, Chaiken conceived an idea for a series that would revolve a tight knit group of lesbian friends living, working and loving in Los Angeles. Ilene persisted in the face of initial resistance and rejection and finally, in 2004, The L Word premiered.

Headed for its sixth and final season next year, the show has grown into a massive worldwide hit, giving millions of gay and straight fans a glimpse into a lesbian world where love and loyalty rule. But more than that, The L Word reaffirmed that good storytelling has a way of creating community. Fans everywhere have been connecting with each other online, in public and at home-viewing parties.

Named one of POWER UP's top ten lesbians in Hollywood and one of OUT Magazine's 100 most powerful gay people in Hollywood, Ilene is a former board member of GLAAD and founding CEO of OurChart.com, an online social network for lesbians and those who love them. Where the woman finds the time, I have no clue.

Once upon a time, Ilene thought to herself, "It's not good enough to have just one character who's a lesbian in someone else's story. To say that with her passion, commitment and talent, she's become a pioneer in the portrayal of lesbians on television is an understatement. Through The L Word, Ilene has helped give representation to an international audience, and by doing so, has expanded our notion of community: Lesbians without borders, indeed.

The L Word is better than good enough; it's the one and only, a unique trailblazer.

Please help me welcome this year's recipient of the Davidson/Valentini Award: my friend, the amazing, revolutionary Ilene Chaiken."

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Images of this event: http://www.tibette.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=281

video: Glaad 19th

transcript by Motaterz