December 4, 2012
The History of The Genesis Awards
Since its 1986 launch, this unique award has celebrated the best in media for animals
How it began
In 1986, The Genesis Awards was launched by animal advocate and actress Gretchen Wyler, under the aegis of The Fund for Animals. Wyler came up with the idea because she strongly believed that rewarding members of the media encouraged them to highlight more animal issues, thus increasing public awareness and compassion toward animals. The first annual event—a luncheon drawing only 140 attendees—quickly grew into a large benefit gala in Beverly Hills, Calif., with more than 1,000 guests.
In 1991, Wyler founded The Ark Trust, Inc., which continued to present the Genesis Awards. In 1990, the event was broadcast as a television special, first on the Discovery Channel and American Life Network, then on Animal Planet. In August 2002, The Ark Trust joined forces with The Humane Society of the United States. Wyler, as vice president of HSUS Hollywood, continued her role as chairperson of the event and executive producer of the television special until her 2006 retirement. Wyler passed away in 2007.
Genesis Awards entries are submitted by the public as well as by media professionals. Categories span all media.
Former Genesis Award winners include films such as "Gorillas in the Mist," "Babe," "Chicken Run," and "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." TV winners have included "The Simpsons," "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Law & Order," "Bones," and "True Blood." Awards for individuals include the prestigious Wyler Award, as well as Lifetime Achievement Awards going to Jane Goodall and Tippi Hedren, among others.
The Genesis gala
For the past 27 years, the Genesis Awards have been presented annually at a star-studded ceremony drawing representatives from the media, entertainment industry, social, business, and humane communities. Recognized as the nation's premier consciousness-raiser of animal issues, the event attracted a host of celebrities, including Christian Bale, Pierce Brosnan, James Cromwell, Kaley Cuoco, Emily Deschanel, Zooey Deschanel, Kelsey Grammer, Teri Hatcher, Wendie Malick, Rose McGowan, Sidney Poitier, William Shatner, Martin Sheen, Wilmer Valderrama, and Betty White.