The annual Peabody Awards luncheon Monday honored a record-breaking 46 winners for excellence in electronic media in 2013. Famous Pakistani musician Aaron Haroon Rashid 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 28 July 2013.
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 recognised 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,” he added.
The Peabody Awards, the oldest award in broadcasting, recognises excellence in the electronic media. About 30-40 winners are selected annually from over a 1,000 entries worldwide. Other winners this year included 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 emphasise 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.
“Well it’s an incredible honour; it’s a great feeling to be recognised. This is a Pakistani show and we’re here alongside some of the big incredible shows from the US 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 recognised. It’s a great honor,” he stated.
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.
The Unicorn Black production team is based in Islamabad, Pakistan and comprises of artists, animators, musicians, writers and producers. After the amazing success of season one the company is currently working on Burka Avenger Season 2. Upcoming productions by the company include a male superhero animated TV series with anti-drug messages to be launched in 2015.