Meet the 2021 Lovie Special Achievement Winners

The 11th Annual Lovie Awards is thrilled to recognise Special Achievement Honourees including ABBA (Lifetime Achievement), Adwoa Aboah (Special Achievement), Mawaan Rizwan (Special Achievement), and Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat (Special Achievement).

Each year, The Lovies recognises a select number of Special Achievement honourees alongside our winners. These are European innovators who have changed the possibilities for digital work and use the Internet in pursuit of a better world. Learn about the Special Achievement Winners we’re honouring this year in the 11th Annual Lovie Awards virtual celebration, Reshape Possible.

  • 11th Annual Lovie Special Achievement Winners

ABBA, Lovie Lifetime Achievement

ABBA will receive the 2021 Lovie Lifetime Achievement Award for brilliantly using the Internet as a channel to create and share amazing work, forge deeper bonds with another generation of fans, and inspire their audiences. Their award is presented by Richard Curtis.

“We will never appear on stage again,” Bjorn Ulvaeus said in 2008. At the time, who could argue? Now, thanks to the transformative power of technology and the Internet, ABBA returns to the stage almost 40 years since their last appearance–this time as ABBAtars–ageless, digital versions of themselves, performing in groundbreaking virtual concerts in a purpose-built virtual auditorium designed by George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic. This return, and this choice of medium, raises the bar for other artists to follow, demonstrating the bands’ deep appreciation for what it means to make and share music in our digital age.

As well as their immense catalogue of classic pop, ABBA have a new album of material: the polished studio album ‘Voyage’, which rapidly accrued over 20 million views in only its first week on YouTube. What’s more, the band joined Tik Tok, where their infectiously danceable music has exploded in popularity, leveraging the power of the Internet so suavely, and engaging with a whole new generation of fans by meeting them where they are.

ABBA’s deft use of evolved digital platforms to deliver the world’s most technologically-savvy comeback is testament to their innate spirit of creativity, and signals their desire to keep connecting with young audiences, who are themselves pioneers of new modes of communication.

Adwoa Aboah, Lovie Special Achievement

The Lovie Awards are thrilled to honour Adwoa Aboah with a 2021 Lovie Special Achievement Award to recognise her ground-breaking work founding Gurls Talk–a truly multimedia organisation that encompasses podcasts, conferences, seminars and online forums–which creates an inclusive, safe online space for young women to discuss mental health, sexuality and identity, in a place they feel they belong.

At a time when hatred and bullying run too rampant across the Internet, it is all the more vital to have public figures like Aboah who use their voice and influence to amplify kindness and unabashed self-expression. Encouraging others to share their personal stories, by fearlessly offering their own, is the kind of empathy we all need.

Aboah marked World Mental Health Day last year with frank revelations about her own experiences with depression, addiction and bipolar disorder, and her subsequent recovery–bravely sharing her own story to clear a path for other voices and stories that too often go untold. In doing so, she has created a safe space on the Internet with Gurls Talk, where people can come to feel seen and to deepen their understanding of what it means to be human, alongside a community of others who offer empathy and support. Her Podcast expounds on these stories and delivers the kind of authentic storytelling that can really make a difference to audiences everywhere.

Aboah’s modern spin on fashion, philanthropy and online activism taken together, has proved a potent combination that is making a difference to people’s lives. Her efforts raise the bar for clothes in the spotlight, showing exactly how fame can be used for good.

Mawaan Rizwan, Lovie Special Achievement

The Lovie Awards are thrilled to honour Mawaan Rizwan with a 2021 Lovie Special Achievement Award for his breakthrough media success, and for consistently creating original, groundbreaking work that is intrinsically tied to the Internet and digital culture. His award is presented by comedian Thanyia Moore.

As an artist who launched his career on Youtube, it is clear that Rizwan has held a unique understanding of the power of digital culture from the outset. With over 20 million views of his comedy clips, Rizwan is the definition of an internet sensation, whose masterful use of the Internet and engagement with his fans and community across social media, has propelled him into the public eye.

And for good reason. Rizwan has brought both his knowledge and his humour to his role as writer on the Netflix smash hit, ‘Sex Education,’ and has explored dimensions of his own identity as a member of the Asian LGBTQ+ community through his intelligent documentaries such as ’How Gay is Pakistan?’, becoming an important voice in the process of reclaiming his own ‘gay heritage’.

Most recently, during the pandemic Summer of 2021, Pride went online, taking to Youtube, where the official UK virtual Pride party was co-hosted by Rizwan and where viewers were encouraged to give to charity akt, in support of young LGBTQ+ people who live in a hostile home environment.

These are just some of the many ways that Rizwan proves, time and again, that the mark of a great artist and advocate is the ability to meet people where they are; which today, is undeniably, all across the Internet.

Eliot Higgins, Lovie Special Achievement

Eliot Higgins will receive a Lovie Special Achievement Award for his work as the founder of Bellingcat, and his mission to harness the immense power of the internet to bring crimes and atrocities of global dictators under public scrutiny, through collective, online citizen journalism.

In our age of uncertain truths, Bellingcat is what the world needs right now: An online intelligence agency made by the people, for the people. Bellingcat’s website for citizen journalists to investigate current events, using open-source information such as publicly available data sets, videos, maps and pictures, is living, breathing proof of how the Internet can be used for good.

Since its inception, Bellingcat has grown in strength and numbers with civilian journalists and contributors from all over the world taking up the baton. From Tigray province in Ethiopia, to the ongoing atrocities in Yemen, to the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, Bellingcat’s ‘open source investigators’ work together to make sure that the truth is exposed for all to see, and holding the powerful to account.

Bellingcat is so consummately “of” the internet that it could not exist without it, and Higgins’ work to realise this is testament to the internet’s power of connectivity and exploration, tempered with the very human sense of righteous indignation that drives the best investigative journalism today. For his tenacity and courage in redefining what is possible to achieve online in a world where democracy is increasingly under threat–and where misinformation too often runs rampant–Bellingcat paves the way and shows that all is not lost in the quest for truth.

Special Achievement Winners will be honoured along with all Lovie Winners in a virtual Lovie celebration, Reshape Possible, hosted by Deborah Frances-White, starting Wednesday, 17 November at