EXCLUSIVE: VH1 Trailblazers Honors will celebrate two women closely associated with some timely subjects next month: The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood and #MeToo founder and activist Tarana Burke.
They will be feted as vanguards along with previously announced honorees House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay. The hourlong special will air on VH1 and Logo at 9 p.m. Friday, March 8 — International Women’s Day — to mark the kickoff of Women’s History Month. Read VH1‘s mini-bios of Burke and Atwood below.
Rita Ora is set to perform her personal anthem “Soul Survivor,” and additional talent will be announced.
VH1 Trailblazer Honors will celebrate today’s most respected politicians, entertainers, artists, activists, allies and icons who have dedicated their time and steadfast commitments to the women’s movement and beyond,” VH1 said. Centered on the past year’s incredible breakthroughs in female empowerment and human rights, the annual event will feature the landmark achievements of its honorees.
The event will take place at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles, a National Historic Landmark and extension of the Ebell of Los Angeles, a 125-year-old organization founded by women for women.
VH1 Trailblazer Honors is executive produced by Amy Doyle, Vanessa WhiteWolf and Andria Parides, with Lauren Quinn directing.
Atwood is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays. She is best-known for her modern classic The Handmaid’s Tale, now a critically acclaimed television series. Her most recent novels include The Heart Goes Last and the MaddAddam trilogy – the Giller and Booker Prize-shortlisted Oryx and Crake, and The Year of the Flood. In addition to her success as a writer, Atwood is also committed to being active through various philanthropic endeavors. In 2018, Equality Now honored Atwood as a longtime advocate of women’s rights. She continues to use her platform to aid victims of sexual assault and advocates for gender equality and human rights. She was also one of seventeen authors to sell naming rights to characters from their works to raise money for the Freedom from Torture, a charity that provides therapy and support for torture victims.
For more than 25 years, activist and advocate Burke has worked at the intersection of racial justice, arts and culture and sexual violence. Fueled by commitments to interrupt sexual violence and other systemic inequalities disproportionately impacting marginalized people, particularly black women and girls, Burke has created and led various campaigns focused on increasing access to resources and support for impacted communities, including the ‘me too’ movement. In 2003 she co-founded Just Be Inc., an organization committed to the leadership development and wellness of Black girls. In 2006 she began working with students in the Black Belt using ‘me too’ as a tool for healing, education and action. In the years following, the ‘me too’ movement quickly expanded beyond young people to include adult women and men, queer and trans folks and all marginalized groups. In October 2017 #metoo became a viral phenomenon that quickly spread around the world and Burke has emerged as a global leader in the evolving conversation around sexual violence and the need for survivor-centered solutions. Her theory of using empathy to empower survivors is changing the way the nation and the world thinks about and engages with survivors. Burke was named Time Magazine 2017 Person of the Year along with the ‘Silence Breakers’, a group recognized for standing up against sexual harassment and violence. In 2018, she was featured on the covers of Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world and Variety Magazine’s Power of Women issue. She is the recipient of the Ridenhour Prize, The Change Makers Award from Black Girls Rock and topped the 2018 The Root 100 list as the most influential African American.