Nonny de la Peña
Field Builder Award
Nonny de la Peña has been at the forefront of emerging media throughout her career, earning accolades like “Godmother of VR.” Her insatiable curiosity and keen desire to provide innovative experiences to audiences in search of truth brought new techniques and technology to storytelling that are grounded in journalistic integrity.
She was an important contributor during a historic period of discovery in beyond-broadcast digital media. Innovators like her were critical to finding indigenous storytelling forms on the mobile computing devices and social platforms that started to dominate our lives. Her example catalyzed a generation of storytellers and innovators to invest their genius towards meaning-making in emerging media forms.
Her contributions to immersive journalism are numerous, with rippling effects. De la Peña brought important insights to the critiques that VR is too immersive for certain content by making compelling arguments for VR journalism, offering eye-opening examples, and providing best practices for designing embodied experiences of challenging events. Collaborations with leading news organizations set standards in transparency, accuracy, and sourcing for new media.
Her contributions to technology innovation are profound. Significant areas of her innovation include room-scale 5DoF immersion; data visualization; flat game-engine storytelling; techniques to bring flat media documentation into immersive space, stimulating technologists to make VR headsets mobile, higher quality, and less expensive; and a platform that democratizes the immersive power of volumetric VR.
Finally, her contributions to social and environmental justice are formidable. Her pieces help audiences become intimately aware of the nuances of news issues and events spanning critical subjects like abortion, LGBTQ+ youth, police brutality, conflict zones, solitary confinement, melting ice caps, the Black Lives Matter movement, and more. However, one of her most significant contributions was furthering equity and equality in the tech industry by shattering stereotypes and dismantling narratives that worked to validate its lack of diversity.