Peabody Awards to honor inaugural digital and interactive storytelling recipients

Peabody Awards to honor inaugural digital and interactive storytelling recipients

March 08, 2022
Christine Drayer

The Peabody Awards, the oldest and most prestigious awards honoring stories that matter in broadcasting and streaming media, announced that it will recognize winning projects—all to be hand-picked by an expanded, accomplished cohort of jurors—from its newest category, Digital and Interactive Storytelling, on March 24, 2022 at 10 a.m. PST/ 1 p.m. EST,  via

In 2021, the Peabody Awards introduced the expansion of its award categories to recognize storytelling achievements across interactive and immersive categories.

“Creators have been telling amazingly powerful stories in these formats for a long time now. Peabody is excited to be much more thoughtful and intentional in recognizing them as stories that matter, standing squarely beside the traditional broadcast categories we have long awarded,” said Jeffrey Jones, executive director of Peabody.

The Peabody Awards were founded in 1940 at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia and are still based in Athens today.

The board has recently added four new jurors: Gabriel J.X Dance, Yasmin Elayat, Navid Khonsari and Opeyemi Olukemi. In reviewing possible award recipients, this newly created Interactive Board will screen projects across Gaming, Interactive Journalism, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Social Video, Interactive Documentary, Transmedia Storytelling, and more. The inaugural awards in Interactive will be given to legacy media projects that have proven to be enormously influential in setting the standard for the best storytelling in journalism, documentary, and entertainment using immersive and interactive formats.

“The works in this new category are fundamentally changing how we engage with storytelling, and therein changing us. It’s imperative that we recognize the projects that have catalyzed and revolutionized how media is seen, understood, engaged with and disseminated.  We hope that honoring these legacy winners will continue to push forward our mission of supporting ambitious, groundbreaking creators who strive to make projects with stories that are not only entertaining but can also perhaps prompt visible, societal shifts,” said Diana Williams, chairwoman of the new Peabody Interactive Board.

The Peabody Awards and Black Heart, a creative agency in the space of Extended Reality (XR), are collaborating to create an interactive website to feature Peabody’s new category. Users will be able to watch, explore, and experience the winners via a desktop-accessible and mobile-compatible website. Created with accessibility in mind, users can dive deep into projects with exclusive content and discover secret treasures and other hidden gems.

“Our aim is to not only keep pace, but to honor the contributions of these artists with our own efforts,” Jones said. “The new website and awards platform is representative of that.”

The Newest Members of the Peabody Interactive Board are:

Gabriel J.X. Dance is the deputy investigations editor at The New York Times focusing on the nexus of privacy and safety online. Previously, Dance was part of a team of journalists that reported on the data-sharing practices at Facebook and the bot economy on Twitter, was involved in the reporting on Donald Trump’s taxes, and was a founding managing editor at The Marshall Project. Dance has undergraduate degrees in computer science and technical journalism from Colorado State University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and was among a group of journalists at The Guardian who won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for coverage of widespread secret surveillance by the N.S.A..

Yasmin Elayat is an Emmy-award winning immersive director, United States Artists 2020 Fellow, and Co-Founder at Scatter, an immersive company pioneering Volumetric Filmmaking. Yasmin directed Scatter’s Zero Days VR (Sundance 2017) a documentary about cyber warfare and the Stuxnet virus, which won the Emmy for Original Approaches: Documentary. Yasmin is the co-creator of 18DaysInEgypt, which was lauded as one the Moments of Innovation in Participatory Documentary. Yasmin is a co-director of The Changing Same trilogy. Episode 1 premiered at Sundance 2021 and won “Best Immersive Narrative” at Tribeca Festival. Yasmin’s work has won multiple awards and exhibited at various festivals including Sundance, Tribeca, SIGGRAPH, Festival de Cannes, and the World Economic Forum.

Navid Khonsari, is the co-founder of  iNK Stories, an award-winning studio creating impact-forward original work across games, mixed reality (VR/AR) and immersive experiences, and has forged a new hybrid of documentary-games: ”Verite Games.” Drawing upon personal history Khonsari created 1979 Revolution: Black Friday, which received the industry’s top honors: a BAFTA, Facebook Game of the Year, Tribeca FF Storyscape, among others, and was recognized by UNESCO as a digital solution for peaceful conflict resolution. Khonsari is credited with having ushered in the current wave of contemporary AAA video games, such as Grand Theft Auto, Max Payne, Red Dead Revolver, and The Warriors, up to the recent Resident Evil: Biohazard. He is an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins, and guest lectures at Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Duke, Northwestern in Qatar, White House, UN, Sundance and more.

Opeyemi Olukemi is the executive director of the Center of Documentary Studies (CDS), anchored in Durham, North Carolina. Throughout her career as an interactive producer, funder and public programmer, Olukemi has created spaces and pipelines for interdisciplinary artists, communities, and creative teams to experiment and create meaningful innovative content. Olukemi has previously led teams at POV Spark, served as the Senior Director of Interactive Programs for Tribeca Film Institute and has produced projects for ScrollMotion. Olukemi has served on numerous international festival juries and has mentored through IDFA’s Doc Academy, New Museum’s NEW INC, Oculus’ VR for Good, Sundance’s New Frontier Lab and the Venice Biennale College Cinema, and was also an assistant professor of Integrated Media at Brooklyn College’s Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema. Olukemi is a proud Rockwood (Ford Foundation) JustFilms Fellow.

The current board of jurors also includes:

  • Diana Williams (Chair), CEO and co-founder, Kinetic Energy Entertainment
  • Lars Bastholm, chief creative officer, Story House Egmont
  • Jay Bushman, writer and producer
  • Aymar Jean Christian, , associate professor of communication studies, Northwestern University
  • Katerina Cizek, artistic director and co-founder, Co-Creation Studio at MIT Open Documentary Lab
  • Amy Hennig, president, New Media Division at Skydance Media
  • Al Shaw, editor, News Applications at ProPublica
  • Kamal Sinclair, executive director of the Guild of Future Architects
  • Sara Thacher, creative director and senior R&D imagineer at Walt Disney Imagineering
  • Lance Weiler, co-founder and director, Columbia University School of the Arts Digital Storytelling Lab

For more information visit and follow #PeabodyAwards #StoriesThatMatter across Peabody Awards social media channels: