Where are the Black women in Animation?
Three years ago I dedicated a Women's History post to Black women in animation. In this post I expressed how challenging it was to find Black women in the industry (here's the link to the post). I wrote about Jackie Ormes (a cartoonist), Brenda Banks (animator), Dr. Ayoka Chenzira (animator, director) and Carole Holliday (animator, writer, director).
Now, as I have finally entered the animation industry as a professional, I was reminded throughout my experience that I was essentially a unicorn. More often than not I was either the only Black person in the room or non-white male when it came to meetings, pitches and kick offs. Thankfully I did not have many moments that specifically reminded me of this fact.
Black women work in various positions in the industry. They are in the finance department, editorial, render, story and marketing. At least that's where they were in Blue Sky. That's not even one Black woman per department if I'm being honest and most of them were in management positions.
I've continued to reflect on in other ways Black women work in the industry and I thought of the incredible Cree Summer who has voiced most Black animated characters as well as singer Estelle who voices Garnet on Steven Universe. Besides them and Regina King, I can not think of other Black women voice actresses.
I bring this up because it is my aspiration for the animation to have its own Ava Duvernay, Shonda Rhimes, Issa Rae and many more names that will become household names. Many of us can rattle off at least five Black men in the animation industry but struggle to name two Black women.
None of the women mentioned in this post, regardless of the industry that they work in arrived overnight and neither will the names we in the future.
I'm challenging myself to create a new Black women in animation post for Women's History Month 2019. Wish me luck!