'Resistance' spoken word piece wins two Telly awards

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“Resistance,” a spoken word piece by Mason alumnus Bobby Lacy II performed at Mason’s 2020 Winter Commencement, had a profound impact on those who saw it during the video broadcast.

Now the Telly Awards, the world’s largest honor for video and television content across all screens, has recognized the piece with two silver awards for excellence in two areas of Non-Broadcast: Diversity & Inclusion and Social Impact.   

“The two Telly Awards give us a clear message that we are on the right path with our work,” said Green Machine Ensembles director and associate professor of music Michael W. Nickens, aka Doc Nix. “We put our souls into our creativity, and this recognition rewards our faith and renews us helping us to continue our journey.”

Established in 1979, the international Telly Awards received more than 12,000 entries, a 15% increase driven by the pandemic, from all 50 states and five continents. Entrants are judged by a group of more than 200 leading video and television experts.

“This was not just a spoken word; it is and continues to be a window into the reality that some are forced to face,” said Lacy, who graduated from Mason in 2016 with a BA in music/voice and is now a graduate student in the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ Arts Management Program.

According to Lacy, “Resistance” was incredibly painful to write. He said this letter to his peers starts off as a double-meaning spoken word.

“I wrote on the experience of the pandemic, and I created a parallel to the experience of being a Black person in America,” said Lacy. “By the time I reach the penultimate stanza of ‘Resistance,’ I’m no longer speaking on the pandemic that the entire world faces; I’m speaking on the pandemic that my race has faced throughout history.”

Filmed in Merchant Hall at the Hylton Performing Arts Center on Mason’s Science and Technology Campus, “Resistance” ends on a charge to the graduates of George Mason to create change.

Nickens describes the performance as powerfully thoughtful and beautifully expressive.

“His word brings into focus so many of our collective thoughts, feelings, and wishes,” said Nickens.

“I want to thank Michael Nickens for not only challenging me to write this piece but for providing a framework and an inspiration from his Mason Idea spoken word from back in 2013,” said Lacy.

“We spent some great time together over Zoom sifting through many ideas and exploring possible directions,” Nickens said. “I knew immediately that this project was going to be very rewarding and yield something that would provide a lifetime of pride.”

Nickens served as writer and director on the piece, and said he hopes that the people who hear their lived experiences in “Resistance” come away knowing they are not alone.

“I hope that people that are learning about the struggles of others become more curious about people around them, and start on a journey towards better self-awareness, empathy, and collective consciousness,” said Nickens. “I hope that those that have found their experiences at our university has prepared them for life in our evolving society hear a welcoming and inspiring call to action.”

Mason also won a Silver Telly for a short film of Open Winter Guard: 2019 World Championships. A collaboration of dance and theater, Mason Open is part of Green Machine Ensembles and uses flags, replica rifles, sabers, movement and dance in an elaborate, theatrical experience. The Mason team has 30 members and competes nationwide, from January to April, ending at the Winter Guard International (WGI) finals in Dayton, Ohio.

“We’re honored and excited to receive these awards for Green Machine and the university,” said Josh Cruse, senior producer for Green Machine Media. “To me, it demonstrates the incredible impact our students have not only in their performances, but in the stories behind their performances.”

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