Connect with us

Gossips

Artists of Color Push for More Inclusion in Animation Industry

Published

on

Soul Hair Love Spider Verse Animation Inclusion

In the wake of public outcry over the lack of Black representation in the film industry, animation studios and entertainment companies at large have publicized their commitment to diversity and hiring more people of color at every level.

While these statements look like a cultural shift, a significant question hangs over them: Does this mean real change is taking place in the animation landscape and do films such as “Soul” help the push toward representation?

“That’s a tough question to answer because only time is going to tell,” says Kemp Powers, co-director of Oscar-winning “Soul” and director of the upcoming “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2.” “Animation is a slow business. It takes four to seven years to get one of these films made. It’s going to be years before we see what impact, if any, the film has had. What I do hope that ‘Soul’ did so was to have an impact on how animated films featuring characters of color can also be universal. I think so just based on the global audience that I saw [“Soul”] had and countries like Russia and China, proves that being hyper-specific, having characters from different cultures, does not exclude any audiences, especially when you are telling universal human stories. So, that’s the positive lesson I hope others have learned from the success of the film, but again, only time is going to tell.”

Advertisement

Kerri Grant, who has been nominated for eight Daytime Emmys and is showrunner and co-executive producer of “Ada Twist, Scientist,” thinks the storytelling won’t do all the work on its own.

“I think the films and the shows do a good job of showing what’s possible to audiences,” says Grant. “I think it works in the sense of kids out there and people out there and families out there seeing themselves on screen. I think the possibility is the first step for people to even think it’s possible to end up in an in a career like this. As far as so those films and TV shows helping to open doors, I think in only to the extent that the people behind the scenes make an effort to really extend opportunities to people of color in the industry. So I was a staff writer on ‘Doc McStuffins’ and that definitely opened that door for me.

“I think then it’s sort of like up to me, people like me in the in the kind of deciding ranks of the corporations that are airing or producing the shows to open doors for people of color in the industry who work behind the scenes. I’m not sure if the shows themselves or the films themselves necessarily open doors, but I think they show what’s possible.”

For Breana Williams, a production coordinator for Disney TV Animation on “The Proud Family” and co-founder of Black N Animated and co-host of the Black N Animated podcast, commitments to increasing representation and diversity have historical significance.

Advertisement

“Yes, there is a mandate, but it is a bummer to me that the mandate came from Black trauma,” says Williams. “And that’s something that I’ve sort of echoed in the past where people have asked me, ‘Isn’t it really great that there’s like more of a push?’ It’s great, but it is a little bit unfortunate that it took the murder of someone for it to happen. That’s what’s kind of a double-edged sword for me, when I look at it. I’m really excited with the content that’s been coming out. I just wish that it didn’t take something so awful for people to realize, ‘oh, Black people are in my workplace and when I go outside they’re my, my friends, my peers, neighbors.’ We’ve been saying this for a while.”

The Black N Animated organization was started to help form a community for Black animators and help them break into toon careers.

Rise Up Animation is also advocating for animators of color and seeks to broaden representation. One of the group’s co-founders, Frank E. Abney III, has worked at Disney, DreamWorks and Pixar over his extensive career that includes titles such as “The Incredibles 2,” “Coco” and “Toy Story 4.”

“I’ve started to see some small changes,” says Abney. “I feel on the executive side, there’s still a lot of work to be done. When it comes to the decision-making on the creative front for some of our large studios, I can think of two Black women executives, so that’s a problem. I think there’s still a lot more work to be done, but I think there have been some small changes that have started to happen. I think there have been waves [of diverse characters] in animation on the feature side more now than I’ve seen in the past. Growing up, I can’t think of a feature that had people of color that I identified with or felt like [people of color] were represented in an authentic way.”

Advertisement

Aphton Corbin, director of the lauded Pixar short film “Twenty Something,” has seen how information about animation careers and the high cost of animation education and equipment can be an additional hurdle for Black creatives.

“I think within the studios, people are recognizing the need to have more diverse voices for sure,” says Corbin, who is at work on a feature project for Pixar. “But I think there’s a gap between accessibility to getting into the industry for people of color. I’ve experienced a lot of people who are eager and hungry to help but then how to get more people through the door is still a bit of a struggle. I think it all boils down to accessibility. For me, being able to go to CalArts was a huge benefit. But I wouldn’t have been able to afford it without taking on a ridiculous amount of loans and a lot of people can’t take that risk or even have access to that.”

Marshell Becton, line producer on “Gen: Lock,” has worked as a producer on “SuperMansion” and the movie “My Little Pony: Rarity, the Queen of Fashion!” She believes diversity will increase as Black creatives are given more opportunities to begin their animation careers.

“I think there has been some progress but there’s still a lot of room to grow,” Becton says. “I still have to fight just as hard for a job as I did 10 years ago. It was a challenge to be seen but I’ve made sure my voice was heard. One of the things I think about is whether diversity is a trend or whether it will stay, and it’s hard to tell at this moment. I think it’s important to start giving diverse folks the opportunity. They don’t always have as much experience but if you’re going to lean into diversity with your crew you have to start somewhere because many people aren’t getting that first opportunity.”

Advertisement

Animation writer Aydrea Walden, who has worked on “Ada Twist: Scientist” and “Pete the Cat,” sees social media as a way for creatives to break through the noise by showcasing their talent and networking with animation professionals. This could address some accessibility issues for those who aren’t able to invest thousands in a high-end program.

“For the individual and for the studio to find people was very difficult even if the studio was going to have a big diversity fair in the mid-2000s,” Walden says. “When I got here it was still very difficult because studios or recruiters would kind of need to know individual people or it was focused on college requirements and by the time people get to college some sifting has occurred. So I do think the effort is sincere and I’ve been able to connect with people in both directions on social media.”

Creators including Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, executive producer of “Karma’s World,” a show based on the life of his oldest daughter, are making the content they hope will lead the way for more representative programming. They also see it as a way to speak to the next generation.

“Inclusivity and representation are very important,” Bridges says. “I have four daughters and I love for them to see themselves on screen. It’s important for them to see this animation is beautiful and that they are beautiful, too, because art imitates life. I want to be part of the solution, I am trying to be the change that I want to see in the world.”

Advertisement

“Karma’s World” was based on an interactive website of the same name. Bridges is also the founder of Kid Nation, an entertainment platform created with the goal of providing children with health and academic support.

Carl Jones, widely known for his work on “The Boondocks,” the first Cartoon Network show to win a Peabody Award, agrees that there’s still a lot of work to be done in terms of advancing diversity but, like Bridges, he’s also looking for ways to create opportunities.

“I’m really hopeful just because I’m having an opportunity now to explore so much talent across the world,” says Jones.

Advertisement

Gossips

Sam Raimi Explains His ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Feelings, Reveals Whether ‘Doctor Strange 2’ Is Finished Filming

Published

on

3 Split 8

Sam Raimi, the director of Columbia Pictures’ original “Spider-Man” trilogy starring Tobey Maguire, has spoken out about watching his original cast reprise their roles in last year’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”

In an exclusive interview with Variety while promoting the Oscar-shortlisted film “You’re Dead Hélène,” a live-action horror short film produced by Raimi, the director discussed seeing Maguire, Willem Dafoe and Alfred Molina take up their iconic characters once again.

“It was so much fun,” Raimi said. “I love ‘No Way Home’ and the audience I was with went crazy. It was delightful to watch Alfred play his role, and Willem Dafoe, just seeing these guys take it to the next level. And Tobey was awesome as always. The best word I can say is it was refreshing for me.”

Advertisement

The superhero film shows Maguire battling with many of his greatest foes, including Norman Osborn a.k.a. Green Goblin (Dafoe) and Otto Octavius a.k.a. Doctor Octopus (Molina), The success of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is undeniable, as the uniting of three Peter Parkers — Maguire, Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield — across three iterations of the web-slinging superhero has continued to rack up returns at the box office. In its sixth week of release, the Sony comic book sequel has grossed an impressive $721 million at the domestic box office, currently sitting as the fourth-highest grossing domestic release of all-time behind “Avatar” (2009), “Avengers: Endgame” (2019) and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015).

“Spider-Man” (2002) and “Spider-Man 2” (2004) both grossed over $400 million at the box office respectively. The first film was nominated for two Oscars — best sound and visual effects — while the sequel won visual effects, in addition to two nods for sound mixing and sound editing.

In terms of Raimi’s next directorial project, the sequel to “Doctor Strange,” the filmmaker wasn’t as willing to reveal details. He did share an uncertainty if the film was done filming, responding to reports that the Benedict Cumberbatch-starring sequel faced “significant reshoots” back in November.

“I wish I knew the answer to that question,” Raimi said, responding to the question of whether the movie was complete. “I think we’re done, but we just cut everything. We’re just starting to test the picture and we’ll find out if there’s anything that’s got to be picked up. If something’s unclear or another improvement I can make in this short amount of time left, I’ll do it. One thing I know about the Marvel team is they won’t stop. They’ll keep pushing it until it’s as close to being great as it could.”

Advertisement

Raimi also emphasized the positive experience he has had working with Marvel Studios and its head Kevin Feige.

“Marvel’s been a great team to work with,” Raimi continued. “I think that was a not-surprising surprise. I’ve been super-supported by the whole Marvel operations, starting at the top with Kevin Feige, and working all the way down to the crews that they work with. [They’re] super professional and have supported me every step of the way.”

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is scheduled to be released in theaters on May 6, 2022.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Gossips

Bradley Cooper Says Replacing Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘Nightmare Alley’ Exposed His Insecurities

Published

on

Bradley Cooper Nightmare Alley

Bradley Cooper earned rave reviews for his lead performance in Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley,” but the eight-time Oscar nominee was not necessarily the director’s first choice for the job. It was Leonardo DiCaprio, who del Toro originally cast in the role of Stanton Carlisle, a drifter and con artist who rises from lowly carnival worker to a renowned mentalist. Speaking to Mahershala Ali as part of Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series, presented by Amazon Studios, Cooper opened up about replacing DiCaprio and how not being first choice exposed his own insecurities.

“‘Nightmare Alley’ was an interesting example of how insecure I am,” Cooper said. “I was like, ‘Oh, I guess I still am the guy that wants to be in the group,’ because I had no intention of acting in anything other than what I’ve been writing. Leonardo DiCaprio fell out, and Guillermo del Toro came to me. I still remember thinking, ‘Oh wow, the guys that don’t hire me, they want to hire me?’ And then it was like, ‘Of course, I have to do it just because I’ve never been allowed into that group.’ It was insecurity and ego.”

Cooper continued, “Thankfully, it wound up being an incredible experience. And that was very interesting to me to play a character, Stanton Carlisle, who has clearly been traumatized as a kid, has no parental foundation, has no foundation for love, intimacy, real connection, and he just is surviving off of a gratification and a desperate need to find out who he is.”

Advertisement

“In this movie, a lot of things happened on the day,” Cooper added. “It felt like Stanton taught Guillermo and I about where this exploration into humanity could go. It was terrifying for both Guillermo and myself because of that; it was really going into the unknowing. The whole movie leads towards the end, where finally someone tells him who he is.”

Cooper’s decision to star in “Nightmare Alley” paid off in raves for the actor, with Variety’s Peter Debruge writing in his review that the actor “delivers another terrific, tragic turn” in the film. Watch Cooper and Ali’s full conversation as part of Variety’s “Actors on Actors” in the video below.

Advertisement
Continue Reading