It’s really no surprise that Surviving R. Kelly took home the 2019 MTV Movie & TV Award for Best Documentary (even though there was stiff competition with fellow nominees At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal, McQueen, Minding the Gap, and RBG).
The nation watched the documentary with bated breath when it aired on Lifetime at the beginning of the year, giving voice to those who had been silenced and reigniting a fight that had long seemed destined to fail. Its impact was felt immediately, and it inspired Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to encourage more of the artist’s potential survivors to “please come forward” in an effort to legally react to the allegations presented in the six-part series.
The documentary’s executive producer Brie Miranda Bryant was on hand to accept the award, bringing executive producers Tamra Simmons, Jesse Daniels, and Joel Karsberg and survivors Asante McGee, Faith Rodgers, Lisa VanAllen, and Lizzette Martinez onstage with her. “This isn’t just a trophy to us because this really speaks to the important cultural impact that this generated from this documentary, so thank you MTV Awards and everyone that voted,” she began. “This team believes in the power of numbers. 54 individuals sat to tell this story. Entire production teams assembled their shields to tell this story. Survivors walked through the fire and then stood again to tell this story, and parents shared the hell that they still stand in to tell this story. Around the world and to millions of people, six months later, we are still standing in this room telling this story, so thank you.”
Bryant then recognized the behind-the-scenes teams who helped bring the doc to life before turning to the women by her side. Emotions were high and some tears were shed as she concluded her speech. “To our survivors and parents, we know the journey does not start or stop with this documentary, but the world is listening now,” she said. “Because of your bravery, other girls and boys and women and men are now speaking without shame and being heard without judgement. Because of your courage, you created change — and you survived.”