Writer, television personality and transgender activist Paris Lees was honoured with the special gold award at last night’s MHPC’s 30 TO WATCH awards.
Paris was named Young Campaigning Journalist of the Year at the prestigious industry event – held at BAFTA – for her work to improve life for trans people.
Now in their fourth year, 30 To Watch is MHP Communications’ annual spotlight on top young media talent – picking out those already setting the news agenda through editorial, print, broadcast or digital reportage early on in their career.
Paris said of her win: “This award is lovely on a personal level, but, more importantly, it validates a cause I’m so passionate about – human rights for trans people”
Speaking of her personal journey into journalism, she added:
“When I first transitioned, like many trans people, I was depressed and isolated. I looked to the media for inspiration and all I saw were people like me being ridiculed. Five years on and things are looking very different. I’m very proud to have shared a special moment at the awards with so many promising young journalists who don’t hate but in fact celebrate diversity.”
Paris also thanked various editors for supporting her: “Journalism is a tough industry to crack and, with the changing media landscape, it’s getting tougher. That’s why it’s great to see MHP Communications encouraging young talent. I’m also particularly grateful to Alex Miller at VICE, Matthew Todd at Attitude, Tim Lusher at the Guardian and Jane Czyzselska at DIVA.”
Gold Awards were presented to five rising stars judged to have gone “above and beyond the industry standard” – with Paris receiving the night’s special award.
The judges noted the breadth of her achievements: she has written for titles including The Guardian, the Telegraph, The Independent, VICE, Attitude, Cosmopolitan, i-D, Broadcast, The Irish Times and the Sun.
Paris has also met with executives at the Daily Mail, Eastenders and BBC Comedy through her awareness-raising project All About Trans. Last year she was named Ultimate Campaigner at the Cosmopolitan Ultimate Woman of the Year Awards and was invited to a reception at Downing Street with Samantha Cameron. She has also topped the Independent on Sunday’s Pink List.
The winners were chosen by a select panel of senior journalists and former 30 To Watch winners.