The former Channel 4 commissioning editor, Jacquie Lawrence, who has overseen the production of LGBTQ+ content such as Dyke TV, Queer Street and more, has been recognised by the Cardiff-based festival for increasing lesbian visibility in TV and film.
The Iris Prize Fellowship has been presented to Jacquie Lawrence, recognising her contribution to LGBTQ+ programming as a commissioner, producer, writer and director. Guests at the ceremony in London celebrated the former Channel 4 commissioning editor’s work that has increased the visibility of lesbians in TV and film.
At Channel 4 she oversaw the production of popular shows such as Dyke TV and Queer Street and was a co-commissioner on the Oscar-nominated documentary, The Celluloid Closet. Lawrence also worked on the Coming Out Night campaign for LGBTQ+ teenagers and Paragraph 175, a feature-length documentary featuring interviews with the last gay Holocaust survivors.
Accepting the award, Lawrence acknowledged the role of the Iris Prize in promoting and celebrating LGBTQ+ filmmakers, particularly those telling lesbian stories. She also said that while there have been encouraging developments in the mainstream media in recent years, not much has changed in terms of the visibility of lesbians on our screens since the 1990s.
The fellowship – awarded as part of the Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival that takes place in Cardiff annually – recognises individuals who have contributed to film and TV in ways that are not recognised in conventional award ceremonies. The inaugural fellowship was presented in 2019 to Tom Abell, the managing director and owner or Peccadillo Pictures.
The fellowship was presented by Linda Riley, the publisher of DIVA Magazine, who said: “I simply cannot think of anyone more deserving of the Iris Prize Fellowship than Jacquie Lawrence. A true pioneer for lesbian visibility and LGBTQI representation, her onscreen work is legendary both in our community and beyond. Throughout her career she has put LGBQTI stories centre stage, changing lives and helping so many of us to feel seen.”
Berwyn Rowlands, director of the Iris Prize festival, said: “The Iris Prize Fellowship is presented to honour those who have made a significant contribution to the UK film industry with a specific focus on LGBT+ stories. Jacquie Lawrence is the perfect example of what we were looking for. I’m delighted that we can shine a light on her contribution, and also say a massive thank you.”
At the event, which took place at The White Space, Ministry Venues in London, speeches were given by Fenton Bailey, Dawn Airey, Barbara Machin, Ross Kemp, Sinitta, Briony Hanson, Paul Burston and Fizz Milton. The SNP MP Hannah Bardell attended the event and later recognised Lawrence’s achievements in the House of Commons.
The Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival will celebrate its 16th edition in October, and since 2017 has been recognised by BAFTA as an A-list festival, alongside the likes of Cannes and Sundance. The £30,000 Iris Prize, which is supported by the Michael Bishop Foundation, allows the winner to make a new LGBTQ+ themed film in the UK.