At Mamamia, we want to acknowledge and celebrate the Australian men who are doing good things and trying to make our country a better place. So we came to you with a list of 100 great Aussie men and asked you to decide Mamamia’s 50 Best Blokes. We spent the week counting down your top ten. And today, we’re thrilled to give you your number one: Waleed Aly.
In an era when viral videos tend to involve baby pandas or bizarre dance moves there’s one man cutting through to help remind us what’s really important, what genuinely deserves our attention as we thumb through our feeds.
That man is Waleed Aly.
Television host. Lawyer. Academic. Writer. Radio broadcaster. Human rights advocate. Musician. Father of two. Master of the piece-to-camera. A man who used all that to help make social consciousness palatable to fluff-hungry prime-time commercial TV audiences.
While Aly's fierce intellect (he's got degrees in law and chemical engineering) is probably enough on its own to set him apart in Australia's media landscape, his true distinction is that he manages to speak from both his head and his heart.
That's why Australia turns up the volume every time he's in frame, why last year he was dubbed the country's most popular television personality and handed a little golden Logie statue. That might seem like a fickle accolade to some, but in true Aly style he seized it as an opportunity to share a stunningly poignant take on diversity and discrimination in media. (You can watch the full speech above.)
Susan Carland spoke to The Binge podcast about what happened after her husband Waleed won Gold. Listen here:
We shouldn't have been surprised, really. Since joining The Project at the beginning of 2015, Aly has fashioned himself into a true agenda setter. From monologues on childcare to climate change, his Something We Should Talk About series has become renowned for starting must-have conversations and raising hot-button issues, often on behalf of people who don't have the power/influence to speak up themselves.
When he called viewers to arms to help short-changed dairy farmers, thousands of Australians switched to locally produced brand-name milk and cheese.
When he reminded us that 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have died in custody since 1991, he made us contemplate why black deaths barely seem to warrant newsprint.
When he tore apart the federal government's lack of support for front-line domestic violence services last year (note: some 18,631 calls to the 1800-RESPECT hotline were left unanswered in 2014), he had men and women pressuring their representative to #showmethemoney.
But it was his response to the deadly Paris terror attacks in 2015 that got the rest of the world listening. As most grappled with mourning and fear, Aly looked down the lens and plainly declared that “ISIS is weak”.