Winners pose onstage at the 42nd College Television Awards presented by the Television Academy Foundation

Winners pose onstage at the 42nd College Television Awards presented by the Television Academy Foundation

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
April 04, 2023
Foundation News

Student Work Shines at the 42nd College Television Awards

Held in person for the first time since 2019, the Television Academy Foundation's celebration of excellence in student production spotlighted relevant topics and, of course, talented creators.

In 2022, fourteen students from Montclair State University in New Jersey chose to spend their spring break not at beaches or theme parks but recording the stories of residents of New Orleans who were suffering through the aftermath of Hurricane Ida and other storms, environmental racism, crime and other issues. Their report, New Orleans I Raging Storms, scored two top honors at the Television Academy Foundation's 42nd College Television Awards, winning both the competition's News category and the Seymour Bricker Humanitarian Award, which recognizes the nominated piece that best reflects a humanitarian issue.

"I did not expect to be up here again," said anchor-writer-producer Bernice Ndegwa, returning to the stage at the Academy's Saban Media Center in the NoHo Arts District to accept the Bricker Award. "This award is not for us. It is for the people of New Orleans, who welcomed us and gave us the privilege to go into their homes and go into their neighborhoods, and tell the story of their struggle and, most importantly, their perseverance. Thank you so much."

Held April 1, this year's ceremony marked the first time since 2019 that the awards were presented in person instead of virtually, because of the pandemic; the event was also livestreamed globally. The nation's top competition for college and university television students and recent graduates, the College Television Awards this time around bestowed awards in seven categories — Animation Series; Comedy Series; Commercial, PSA or Promo; Drama Series; News; Nonfiction Series; and Sports — in addition to the Bricker Award and the Loreen Arbus Focus on Disability Scholarship, honoring a work that spotlights disability issues. The competition garnered 132 entries from thirty-five schools; the seven category-winning works earned $3,000 each, while the Bricker Award winner received $4000 and the Loreen Arbus scholarship provided $10,000.

From March 30 through April 1, nominees participated in activities geared toward professional development, including a private screening of all nominated projects attended by Television Academy leadership; a networking breakfast with industry pros; visits to such outlets as HBO, KTLA, DreamWorks Animation and Access Hollywood; and a session of career advice from agents at Creative Artists Agency. Winners expressed their appreciation for the events in their acceptance speeches; nominees and winners alike will have the support of the Foundation throughout their industry careers.

"[The students'] work is not only deeply accomplished and exceptionally produced, but also nuanced, complex and very timely," Foundation chair Cris Abrego said in his opening remarks. "It genuinely fills me and all of us at the Television Academy Foundation with pride and great faith in the future of television."

Also winning double honors were students from Taylor University in Indiana: Their program, Lizzi: Deeper Than Water, about Paralympics swimmer Lizzi Smith, won the Nonfiction Series category and the Loreen Arbus Focus on Disability Scholarship, the latter announced prior to the ceremony.

"The [Nonfiction] win was way more of a shock — the other films in our category were so good," Lizzi writer-director Gabriel Burch said after the ceremony. "It was exciting and humbling to win both." Burch and writer-producer Anna Rodman had decided to profile Smith, who was born without a left forearm, because, he said, "Her story stood out. She's so inspiring. And we knew that would come across well on the screen." Added Rodman, "I'm so excited that Lizzi's story is able to be recognized by other people and be seen by other people."

Reflecting on the New Orleans I Raging Storms Bricker Award, writer-producer Keyshawn Reese noted the humanitarian aspects of the project. Though the initial intent was to focus on climate change and other environmental issues, "When we went down there, we felt the connection to the people, to their stories, and we wanted to make sure that their voices were heard," he said.

The winning Comedy Series team members, from USC, were basking in their victory for Wei-Lai, in which the titular character, an 11-year-old Chinese-American boy, puts himself up for adoption by his best friend's parents to escape his own parents' pushing and punishments.

Director Zhongyu (Robin) Wang had said in his acceptance speech, "To all the children who left home and live on the margins of the cultures, no matter where you are in this world, this story is a love letter to you." Said producer Andy Yi Li after the ceremony, "We don't see many Asian-American stories on screen, so it's very important to tell that story." Added her fellow producer, Naomi Shroff-Mehta, "Writer Tony [Guang Xi Shi's] script really spoke to us. It was something that transcended not just the Chinese-American experience, but all experiences of growing up in the U.S. This story is so dear to us, as first- or second-generation immigrant kids coming here."

The Drama Series winner was also from USC: Provenance, about the cutthroat world of art sales and auction houses. Bijan Kazerooni, one of the producers, lauded the class on the television series creation that yielded the entry. "It's rewarding that all of our effort paid off," he said. "I'm appreciative that the Television Academy Foundation saw that we really wanted to emulate the business and prove that we are ready to work in this industry." The team has decided to donate the $3,000 prize to Inner-City Arts, a Los Angeles nonprofit focused on supporting youth arts.

Celebrity presenters at the Awards included Emmy-winning producer-director and former College Television Award winner Shari Cookson (The Memory Loss Tapes); Kim Fields (The Upshaws); Ginger Gonzaga (She Hulk: Attorney at Law, True Lies); Christine Ko (Only Murders in the Building, Dave, The Handmaid's Tale); Jaren Lewison (Never Have I Ever); Camilla Luddington (Grey's Anatomy), Nathan Mitchell (The Boys, Ginny & Georgia), Lauren Potter (Glee, Chicago Med, Veep) and Olly Sholotan (Bel-Air). Former Foundation intern Craig Mazin, the Emmy-winning creator of Chernobyl and currently cocreator-showrunner of The Last of Us, offered congratulations and career encouragement in a video message.

The Foundation thanks the sponsors of the 42nd College Television Awards: the Loreen Arbus Foundation, the Johnny Carson Foundation, People magazine, United Airlines and Warner Bros. Discovery.

Watch the event replay

See the complete list of winners

Browser Requirements
The sites look and perform best when using a modern browser.

We suggest you use the latest version of any of these browsers:


Visiting the site with Internet Explorer or other browsers may not provide the best viewing experience.

Close Window