The awards were set up as an independent initiative without any hidden commercial or political agendas or direct influence with any active pressure group.
After seven successful years the awards have maintained their political and commercial independence. The EMMAs are presently regarded as a prestigious statement of fact, outlining the positive contribution made by many individuals and organisations to the most powerful industry in the world (the Media) and has grown successfully since our independent conception in 1997.
We were also very careful to maintain a healthy working relationship with all the political and commercial organisations to encourage inclusiveness, working alongside their distinct interests within this unique ethnic / multicultural market in the UK and beyond.
We were extremely lucky in our anniversary year of 2001 to begin work with the BBC on the UK EMMAs. We were previously televised as a regional show by Carlton Television in 1999 and 2000 after the Stephen Lawrence enquiry, which had touched each one of us with the distinct reality that institutional racism had existed at all levels of British society.
The hard work from the UK EMMA team and the unconditional support from the many EMMA sponsors and judges have ensured that EMMA has grown into a globally recognised awards ceremony, which at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London, witnessed Lord Richard Attenborough receiving the 2001 Lifetime Achievement Award. In the previous year we honoured Nelson Mandela, who was gracious in his acceptance during a private visit to London EMMA to receive his Lifetime Achievement Award.
We have recognised and celebrated some of the world’s most prominent multicultural figures with the EMMA Lifetime Achievement Award. Prestigious recipients of the award include Muhammad Ali who in 1999 supported our initiative with the following statement, "As in the United States, Britain is lucky to draw from the talents of a community rich in ethnic diversity." Other Lifetime Achievement award winners include Ray Charles and Maya Angelou (2002), Stevie Wonder (2003) and Sir Bill Morris (2004).
The EMMAs – previously known as the Ethnic Minority Media Awards – became the Ethnic Multicultural Media Awards due to our commitment to promote culture and not one's race; this was largely due to the fact that too many people had started defining the EMMAs on racial grounds when we first started in 1998. Since this discovery, we made this change immediately to coincide with our 1999 UK Awards ceremony, and have been at the forefront to not only promote one's individual culture via race or even religion, but ultimately one's humanity through their professional endeavours.
The success of the EMMAs from its humble beginnings has been due to our ability to appeal to a vast audience in any urban, cosmopolitan and above all metropolitan environment. With many global icons being recognised each year in front of over 1,000 VIP guests attending including 35 Ambassadors, Senior Politicians and Global Celebrities, we had managed to expand into an annual Festival with over 500 events throughout the UK during the awards ceremony month and also launched EMMA (Music) Time on SKY Digital in 2003 with an EMMA Chatshow in 2004.
EMMA's need to enhance community cohesion has not only become crucial due to rising global conflicts, through terrorism and racial intolerance exposed via media coverage, but it has forced us to question the media industry and any hidden agenda that may prevail, which is why EMMA has become an 'Academy' of excellence to further education.
The birth of the Cultural Diversity Network (CDN) recently has ensured that the original UK EMMA initiatives can be embraced by the larger broadcast and film industry as a point of reality for a better multicultural representation and understanding within British society as a whole, through its various global responsibilities.
The EMMAs have highlighted the importance of the media industry, by reflecting a unique multicultural perspective, which should not be missed by the media industry in its entirety. The creativity that exudes from our diverse communities can no longer be ignored by the people of power within the industry; such as news editors, television commissioners and advertising executives.
The message since EMMA 1998 has been clear : fifty years of multicultural Britain has left its indelible mark. This has sparked a cultural revolution, which has transcended race and class within a growing media industry, reflective of this global dynamism.
The UK EMMAs were screened on the Internet at www.emma.tv in May each year and Clickwalla provided our website’s online vote system. The award categories were revamped for UK EMMA 2002 to reflect a more dynamic entertainment and information based awards ceremony. Our aim is to appeal to the younger UK/global ethnic multicultural communities as a source of inspiration. We hope this will result in a more interactive awards ceremony that will help to redefine the depth of global cultural diversity and the standards of professional achievement.
The UK EMMA Awards has attracted millions of television viewers domestically on terrestrial television and worldwide viewers through the Internet and digital broadcasting, embracing the achievements of celebrities, leading politicians, ambassadors and senior diplomats from over 50 embassies who endorse and represent the philosophy of EMMA.
EMMA continues to celebrate and highlight the multicultural values and common professional excellence that cross traditional cultural divides, whilst maintaining cross-cultural communications at its core.