Waleed Aly, an Egyptian-Australian writer, academic and media personality won the Gold Logie Award for Best Personality on Australian Television for his role as a presenter on The Project.
Aly, who co-hosts Channel Ten’s The Project and also took home the Best Presenter award, was competing for the top prize, more commonly referred to as the Gold Logie, along with five other media personalities.
“I think it’s fair to say I thought I’d never win a Logie. I was more likely to win an AFL Grand Final in my mind. I’m gobsmacked,” said Aly, who was born in Melbourne to Egyptian parents, as he accepted the top prize.
“To know that the audience has accepted you into their universe is the most wonderful thing in the world.”
In the lead up to the awards ceremony, some had criticized the 37-year-old’s inclusion as a nominee. Critics, who were harshly rebuked in Australia for their ‘bizarre’ outbursts, had accused Aly of being biased. This was despite the fact that The Project is co-hosted by four presenters who aim to draw awareness to important news stories and current affairs.
Critics were also slammed for being racist, as Aly, who is also a Muslim, and television presenter Lee Lin Chin, who is of Indonesian background, were the only ones whose nominations attracted criticism.
During his victory speech, Aly appeared to confront such criticism, praising the diversity of Australia and the Gold Logie field.
“Each nominee brilliantly distils some separate piece of Australia and I think it’s an amazing thing that that can be assembled on this night in this way. If you step back and look at those pieces assembled, it is a truly spectacular mosaic,” said Aly, referring to the diversity of Australia.
Aly, who took over as a permanent co-host of The Project just 18 months ago, has dramatically risen in popularity among Australians. Some of his segments, such as his segment about ISIS being weak, have gone viral in Australia and across the world.
At a time when the rise of ISIS has also seen the rise of Islamophobia and xenophobia, Aly’s victory will be seen by many as an important step for greater inclusion.
“I don’t know if and when that’s going to happen but if tonight means anything,” said Aly “[It is] that is the Australian public, our audience, as far as they’re concerned there is absolutely no reason that [the status quo] can’t change.”