mtvU NAMES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT GATES AND HIP HOP ARTIST NICKI MINAJ THE 2010 "mtvU MAN AND WOMAN OF THE YEAR"
New York, NY - December 22, 2010 - mtvU, MTV's 24-hour college network, today announced its 2010 mtvU Man and Woman of the Year: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and hip hop artist Nicki Minaj. In 2010, Secretary of Defense Gates became a role model for public service, proving that it's possible to work within an institution to impart change. As a Republican serving in a Democratic administration, Gates tackled big issues - from fiscal responsibility to gender bias and most recently, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" - making bold, yet reasoned choices, leaving politics aside. Though he inherited two controversial and difficult wars, Secretary Gates' focus aligned with today's youth -- whose largest employer is the military - to do what is best for the troops. Meanwhile, college students everywhere took notice of Nicki Minaj as she became the first solo female rapper to hit Number 1 on Billboard's Rap Chart since 2003, changing the game in the male dominated hip hop space. Minaj also took a stand by speaking out against sexist double standards and bullying, and sparked a cultural dialogue about breaking down homophobic stereotypes within the industry. Beginning Wednesday, December 22nd, mtvU will profile Secretary Gates and Minaj to millions of students around the United States in short-form segments on-air and online.
"College students inherently believe that they have the power and ability to change the system," said Stephen Friedman, General Manager of MTV. "mtvU is proud to honor Secretary Gates because he stood up for what was right, and made historic changes to the system by focusing on the issues at hand rather than partisan rhetoric. Although young people are sharply divided on the war, Secretary Gates and this generation are completely aligned in their unwavering support of the troops."
MAN OF THE YEAR: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates:
Throughout 2010, Secretary Gates demonstrated to college students that he was focused on the issues, not on the politics. The only Secretary of Defense to ever serve under both a Republican and Democratic President - Secretary Gates firmly established himself as a voice of reason and bi-partisanship. After careful analysis, he lifted the antiquated ban on women serving on submarines, oversaw the deployment of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan and set out to cut $100 billion in from the Department of Defense's budget - decisions that upset both ends of the political spectrum, but moves he believed were in America's best interest. Additionally, this former President of Texas A&M urged students from elite universities across America to join the Armed Forces, arguing the case for America's best and brightest to serve their country. He also took a principled stand in a yearlong effort to overturn the controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, and represented the majority of Americans and the vast majority of the college students by making this issue solely about the troops. On December 18th with support from both parties, the secretary's continued efforts paid off -- congress repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Secretary Gates has been awarded the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, and has twice received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal. Now- in 2010, for consistently focusing on solutions for today so they're not problems for tomorrow, and for rational and reasoned discussion instead of polarizing soundbytes -- he can add "mtvU Man of the Year" to his list of accomplishments.
WOMAN OF THE YEAR: Nicki Minaj:
Nicki Minaj left an unforgettable pink mark on 2010: breaking boundaries, achieving critical and commercial success, and beating the boys at their own game. One of the freshest voices to hit the male-dominated hip hop world in years, her debut album "Pink Friday" sold nearly 400,000 copies its first week and was one of the best-ever debuts for a female emcee. She also became the first artist to ever have seven songs on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time. Beyond her many achievements, Nicki was a strong female role model who broke the mold - most notably on Kanye West's "Monster," where she didn't sing the hook, but out-rapped some of the biggest names in the game, including Jay-Z, Rick Ross and 'Ye himself. She also gave back, supporting Susan G. Komen for the Cure's efforts to end breast cancer, filming an "It Gets Better" video to support victims of LGBT bullying and appearing on the cover of "OUT" magazine, calling for an end to homophobia in hip hop.
"In addition to being a breakthrough artist and a college favorite, Nicki Minaj is a strong role model and voice of empowerment who speaks out for what she believes in - we're thrilled to honor her as 'mtvU's Woman of the Year'" said Stephen Friedman, General Manager of MTV.
For more information or to view the segments featuring Gates and Minaj, head to www.mtvU.com.
Broadcast to more than 750 college campuses and via top cable distributors in 700 college communities nationwide, mtvU reaches nearly 9 million U.S. college students - making it the largest, most comprehensive television network just for college students. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, mtvU can be seen in the dining areas, fitness centers, student lounges and dorm rooms of campuses throughout the U.S., as well as on cable systems from Charter Communications, Verizon FiOS TV, Suddenlink Communications, AT&T u-Verse and nearly 70 others. mtvU is dedicated to every aspect of college life, reaching students everywhere they are: on-air, online and on campus. mtvU programs music videos from emerging artists that can't be seen anywhere else, news, student life features and initiatives that give college students the tools to advance positive social change. mtvU is always on campus, with hundreds of events per year, including exclusive concerts, giveaways, shooting mtvU series and more. For more information about mtvU, and a complete programming schedule, visit www.mtvU.com.