“Really hitting our stride”: Suiting up for the 2022 GQ Men of the Year Awards

Men of the Year Awards

GQ Australia editor-in-chief Jake Millar on bringing the event to life

After Covid restrictions meant that live events have been forced to take a hiatus, the GQ Men of the Year Awards have returned to Sydney’s Crown Casino to celebrate the achievements of men across a wide range of categories.

From politicians to social forces, the awards are celebrating stories from all corners of the country, and Mediaweek spoke to GQ Australia editor-in-chief Jake Millar about returning to the stage.

The Men of the Year awards aren’t the only big awards night on the Australian calendar, but they have always found a way of standing out amongst the crowd. For Millar, one of the key things that really sets the awards apart is the breadth of talent that they have. 

“You’ve got the ARIAs, you’ve got the Logies, you’ve got these other key, well known events – but what we find with GQ Men of the Year is that it allows us to really cover everything from sport and art, through to design, fashion, entertainment, and pop culture. It really runs the full gamut. 

You get a really nice read on a wide range of talent, from emerging names to more established icons. That’s really what we look to do with the awards, to really give people that sense of variety and showcase just how much talent we’ve got in the country.”

Man of the year awards

Anthony Albanese

This year saw the GQ Men of the Year Awards making their return to live events post-Covid. Making its return to the event scene, Millar says that the awards have not only been warmly welcomed, but it’s an “even hotter ticket than ever.”

“If the number of people who have reached out to us to try and get an invite is any indication, there’s a lot of anticipation around it this year! There have been a lot of events that have come back in a big way, which is great for the industry – but I feel like GQ Men of the Year has always been a landmark on the social calendar, especially in Sydney. It’s really been missed for the last few years.”

This year will also see GQ return to print, with a special GQ Men of the Year collector’s edition produced as a gloss large format magazine and distributed in The Australian on November 25th.

“It’s the first time we’ve partnered with The Australian for distribution,” says Millar. “When we were thinking about getting GQ back into print, it was a no brainer to look at being part of this strategy that involves glossy magazines and The Australian. They have global reach, the alignment with our readership is very close, but at the same time it allows us to also reach a whole different segment and really get the magazine in front of people.

“At the end of the day, if you’re going to spend the time to create this, shoot all the winners, profile them, and put together a real portfolio, you want people to see it and really appreciate it. There’s nothing quite like print to be able to do that.”

GQ Australia - Russell Crowe

Russell Crowe

There are no shortage of amazing stories for the team at GQ to choose from when it comes to putting the Men of the Year nominations together. When choosing who makes the cut, Millar says that “we want people who feel like role models for the next generation that young guys can look up to.”

“The key one is that it’s really about telling Australian stories, that is really crucial. We do have the odd international name here and there if you look back through previous winners, but it tends to be a really solid showcase of Australian talent. We want to look at who in Australia has really been pushing the country forwards in their chosen field.

“The other key thing is that the winners are always very talented, they’re always very successful, they’ve always had a big year. But we also want to look at stories with a bit more depth to them – people who’ve been achieving on and off the field if they’re a sports person, or on and off the screen.”

In a night of big names taking home big awards, there were a few that really stood out to Millar.

“I’m really excited about Murray Bartlett, he’s an Aussie actor who has been chipping away at his career as an actor for 30 years or so. He landed the audition for White Lotus, which is the show that then became kind of a sensation during the pandemic.

“He’s a really great example of someone who didn’t give up, who kept chipping away. When people talk about actors, often you tend to focus on the younger names. It’s really nice to have someone who’s more established, he’s proven that you don’t have to be an 18 year old kidbto make it – your chance can come along a bit later in life. 

Man of the Year Awards cover

“Another one I’m really excited about is Dylan Alcott, who’s our sporting icon. He’s obviously one of the country’s most gifted athletes, but he’s also been such a tireless champion for inclusivity and for people with a disability. I think that shows the real depth to the kinds of winners that we want.”

For Millar, one of the highlights of the Men of the Year awards is seeing people pop up again and again as their careers take off.

“I’m a huge fan of Josh Heuston who was in Heartbreak High. He’s the classic GQ breakthrough actor, in that he’s had a really great 12 months, but also it feels like we’re really getting in on the ground floor with him. There are going to be massive things ahead. 

Dacre Montgomery won actor of the year, and in 2018 he won our TV actor award. He was very much just on the cusp of stardom, now he’s a bit of a household name with 9 million Instagram followers. It’s nice to see see that trajectory take place for these people, and see their career grow.”

Looking ahead, Millar says that it’s onwards and upwards for GQ, with a big year planned for 2023.

“In addition to the awards and the mag, we’ve just redesigned our website – that was long overdue, and the new GQ.com.au is live now. Digital is still a massive focus for us, and especially expanding our video, E-commerce, and event strategy around that. 

“We’ve got three issues of GQ that will be distributed in The Australian. We have two seasonal issues – one March/April and one September/October – and one Men of the Year special as well. 

“It definitely feels like it’s going to be a big year for GQ, I think there’s going to be a lot on the cards. It’s really exciting to have it back in print with physical events, we are feeling like we’re really hitting our stride.”

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