The Television Academy today announced Star Trek as the 2018 Governors Award recipient, recognizing the visionary science-fiction television franchise and its legacy of boldly propelling science, society and culture where no one has gone before. The prestigious award winner was chosen by the Television Academy board of governors; and the honor will be presented to CBS Television Studios during the Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018.
The Governors Award, which debuted in 1978, honors an individual or organizational achievement in the television arts and sciences that is exceptional and universal in nature and goes beyond the scope of annual Emmy Awards recognition. Mark Spatny is the chair of the Governors Award committee, and John O'Brien serves as vice chair.
Created in 1966 by visionary writer-producer Gene Roddenberry, the original Star Trek series sparked a cultural phenomenon, which has extended over 50 years on-air, with more than 700 episodes and 13 movie franchises. Star Trek’s multiple television series have garnered 30 Emmy Awards.
What began as a television show grew into an entertainment franchise that has consistently depicted humanity’s greatest hopes for a better tomorrow. Throughout Star Trek’s multiple series, viewers were exposed to a world where technology and science helped improve the human condition. Futuristic technological advancements featured in the show bear striking resemblances to the cell phones and virtual reality systems in use today.
"Star Trek is the first television program I can remember watching as a child and has always been ahead of its time. Not only have all the franchises promoted inclusiveness and acceptance of all people and inspired creative thought about space exploration and our future, but the technical innovations sparked by the franchise are incredibly significant to the evolution of television production and also to the communication and computer tools we use in our daily life,” said Governors Award committee Chair Spatny. “We are honored to present this award to a franchise that has made such a lasting contribution to both television and our society.”
From casting decisions to plot points, the series has consciously pursued diversity and equality, providing an optimistic depiction of a diverse and just future that inspires its audience. The original Star Trek provided a war-torn, culturally divided audience with a sense of hope for the future, one in which race, gender and nationality mattered significantly less than one’s capabilities and strengths. The show actively cast actors of various ethnicities in roles of respect—an actor of Russian descent portrayed Ensign Chekov during the Cold War and an African-American woman portrayed Lieutenant Uhura during the Civil Rights Movement. Further, the character of Lieutenant Uhura (portrayed by Nichelle Nichols) inspired Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to fly in space and was described as a symbol of hope for equality by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself.
In addition, the franchise is responsible for significant visual and special effects innovations that have set the standard for television production, advancing the art of motion control photography, video, and digital compositing and editing as well as computer graphics.
Star Trek continues to inspire generations of dreamers and doers. Scientists from the California Institute of Technology, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Boeing Company and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, among several other organizations, credit Star Trek and its far-reaching, long-lasting social and cultural impact with driving their careers toward STEM fields.
“For over 50 years Star Trek has captivated and connected fans from around the world. What the series always brilliantly illustrated is that, despite our greatest differences, we as people are more alike than we realize; and coming together in hopes of a better tomorrow is not just a possibility but a necessity,” said David Stapf, president of CBS Television Studios. “The impact of Star Trek is far-reaching and has inspired not only countless individuals but great advancements in technology, science, health care, space exploration and more. We are so grateful to the brilliant minds and talented individuals, both in front of and behind the camera, who boldly tell stories that stand the test of time. Thank you to the Television Academy for honoring the historic Star Trek legacy and to everyone who has contributed to its success.”
Previous recipients of the Governors Award include last year’s honoree ITVS; American Idol; A+E Networks; William S. Paley; Hallmark Cards Inc.; Masterpiece Theater; Comic Relief; the ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC networks for America: A Tribute to Heroes; and the “It Gets Better” Project.