Here are some insights from those leading the way …
Visual Effects Supervisor and Founder of Alpha Studios
I’ve been asked which of these characteristics that describe me (disabled with spinal muscular atrophy, Chinese-American, woman) have posed the biggest challenge in moving forward, and I’d say being a woman in this business. Even to this day, when I show up to set as a VFX supervisor, the first question I’m asked is “who are you here visiting?” It’s an everyday thing that will change with time. The more women are seen and empowered in senior roles, the less these trivial questions will come up. I took a leap of faith in starting my own company, and I am committed to achieving greater equity and opportunity for everyone in VFX.
President of Women In Animation and Head of Studio at Skybound
I was a single working parent early in my career, and the issue of balancing a career and family is highly personal. I was able to figure out a way where I did not have to sacrifice one for the other – but so many parents, particularly women, feel backed into making that tough choice. Women in Animation is focused on the enormous need to provide job flexibility and more support for working parents and caregivers. The number of women who have had to walk away from their jobs because of the lack of childcare, its staggering cost and not enough options for hybrid work schedules is startling, and that has all been exacerbated by COVID. We need to do better and lift up this advocacy movement.
Animation Supervisor, Wētā FX
Growing up amidst war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in central Africa, I made a decision to pursue art to inject life into something I drew with my own hands and give it back to the people. I created The Third Pole initiative, a CG education program, to work with youth in my home country and give them the tools and the mentorship to be powerful visual storytellers. We know how Western and Asian cultures tell their stories, but not as much how Africa would tell theirs and contribute to our collective global storytelling. It’s so important to be able to preserve our oral histories; our legends are vanishing in our own time.
Visual Effects Supervisor
The lack of female visual effects supervisors is definitely the result of a lack of opportunity and unconscious bias – and that is fixable. Earlier in my career I was told that the goal was to promote the male supervisors, and I watched as guys who had worked under my VFX supervision were promoted up the ranks and given opportunities on large VFX shows. It never occurred to me that my gender would hold me back, and I was always surprised when it did. I am a strong believer in diversity and inclusion, not just because I am a bi-racial woman, but because I believe that greater diversity leads to freer thinking and greater creativity.
Director and Head of Story, Cinesite Studios
Creating my film Mila was a lifechanging experience, inspired by the stories my mother told me about how she felt as a child during the bombings of Trento in World War II. I fully embrace the power of animation. Hollywood might applaud socially relevant features, but it still views animation as essentially little more than “entertainment.” It has enormous potential to affect fundamental change in how we approach each other and how we deal with societal challenges. I believe that stories told through the magic of animation can move people and influence our future generations like nothing else can.