My Experience as a Gracies Judge
It is a privilege and unmatched opportunity to screen the countless amazing productions submitted for the Gracie Awards. Over the years, I can barely remember few entries that did not make this a very competitive awards program. In many cases, it is difficult to limit oneself to watching only enough to rate the content as our inclination is to sit and watch or listen – everything is incredibly compelling.
The Gracies are synonymous with the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation. Judging Gracie entries is one of the most enjoyable experiences I have annually in the world of media. With the mantra, “by women, for women, or about women” as the overarching philosophy, judges indulge in viewing and evaluating the production values as well as the content of television, radio, and digital media.
Gracies judging has evolved over the years. Ten years ago, it was a collaborative group effort, with everyone in-person, and has evolved as our world has to include virtual judges. Prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic, I judged in-person in Washington, DC for a weekend, beginning on Friday evening with dinner and networking with other judges. Saturday morning, judging began in small groups in separate rooms with a specific number of entries assigned to each group. Any remaining submissions not completed on Saturday would be completed Sunday morning. Two very intense but delightful days!
With submissions growing each year, judging is now offered virtually and in-person to be inclusive of experts from across the country in all media genres. The number of entries submitted for each category varies, and the work is subdivided into manageable amounts of entries assigned for each judging group.
Often the programs are new, or just new to me, and I’m drawn into the subject. Most judges will tell you they keep a notepad nearby to jot down the names of programs to add to their personal viewing or listening.
Not only have I been a judge for the last eleven years, but I had the opportunity to host the Gracies judging weekend at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, where I was the Director of the Studio Operation. Groups of judges utilized control rooms, studios and edit suites. How quickly the judges bonded over the shared experience of screening the countless works!
In-person judging is a wonderful networking opportunity for industry peers to gather. Working with other media professionals from around the country is another invaluable benefit of being a judge. To connect with women who are executives, producers, programmers, representing the countless fields of work in media is informative and gratifying. After all these years, I still look forward to the opportunity to participate and recognize the amazing talent of the women in media. I hope to see you in person in 2023 as we gather to experience and celebrate more outstanding content by, for and about women.
Vija Udenans has served as a Gracies Judge for eleven years. She is recently retired after working for over 40 years in the media industry.