Insights for Non Artists:
Encouraging Young Women in Animation Careers
In 2001, I
received an invitation to be an online guest speaker for a virtual
chat as part of Take Our Daughters to Work® Day, which happens
yearly in the United States during the month of April. In fact,
April 25, 2002, is the tenth anniversary of Take Our Daughters
to Work® Day. Started by the Ms. Foundation for Women, the
day's intent is to show young ladies on the verge of being able
to select their career paths what their opportunities and options
are. As that's always been my goal with my columns and my panel
appearances, and knowing many interested youth wouldn't be able
to get such information directly, it pleased me to offer my services
as part of a whole day's lineup of chats from all sorts of industries.
If you are
someone reading this involved in any aspect of the animation industry,
artist or not, do you have some young lady around you who seems
to be interested in animation? Perhaps even just a young woman
unsure of what she can be? Introduce her to your animated world!
It doesn't have to be your own daughter per se, just someone who
sees you as a role model. Consider seeing if you can set a day
(even if it can't be Take Our Daughters To Work Day®) aside
to help broaden her knowledge and find out what careers interest
her. After clearing things with both your boss and the young woman's
parent or guardian (assuming she's not your own daughter), let
her spend after school with you at the studio or production company
you work at, possibly accompanied by with the parent or guardian
depending on the arrangement agreed upon.
if you work as a freelancer -- such as a writer or timer -- tell
the young woman how you manage a freelance career at home, from
what your job entails to the business side. In today's age of
liability, I'm not sure I can recommend a freelancer actually
taking an interested young woman to their home, even if it also
functions as their office. Finding a public place you can sit
and talk for a while, where you can bring visual aids of your
work such as scripts or exposure sheets, and discuss them in detail
should work. Perhaps you can make arrangements to tour the studio
you freelance for in the company of one of its regular staff,
giving an excellent opportunity to let the young woman learn the
differences between staff and freelance jobs.
You may be
reading this and thinking it all sounds great, but you personally
don't know any young women. The Ms. Foundation's website for Take
Our Daughters To Work Day®, located at http://www.takeourdaughterstowork.org,
offers suggestions for find a girl to mentor. Approach your local
Girl Scout, Girls Incorporated, or similar organization to see
if they are matching mentors and girls for this event; perhaps
a local womens' organization might be able to help.
reading this in an area without access to animation studios, but
have connections to commercial art studios, magazine publishers,
or similar occupations, consider taking a young woman interested
in animation there. Magazine publishers, for example, have some
similar roles (such as Production Assistants and Coordinators)
that perform similar functions as their animation counterparts
to reach a different end result. Based on what you've learned
from my column and elsewhere, be prepared to discuss the differences
between print art and animation, but also point out similarities
in the processes. Also make that intent clear to the young woman,
who might be confused at first why you're taking her to one type
of location when she's interested in another. Despite animation
being my primary interest as a youth, I got the opportunity to
tour a newspaper one-on-one (not as a group tour) in junior high
school. Understanding that process and knowing a newspaper differs
from creating an animated episode -- though both involve the processing
of art -- has heightened my appreciation for both mediums.
I'd like to
end with this: even though this article highly promotes showing
young women their possibilities in animation, there is absolutely
nothing wrong with being a mentor to a young man. If the opportunity
presents itself to work with any young person who shows interest
in the animation field, and you feel that you can give that person
a quality experience, I say go for it. You may make all the difference
in the world.
Take Our Daughters To Work® is a registered trademark of the
Ms. Foundation for Women, used with permission.
is known in the animation industry for her work as a production
coordinator for Nickelodeon's Invader Zim. She also served as
a Production Coordinator for Extreme Ghostbusters and a Production
Assistant for Jumanji: The Animated Series. Muir is an accomplished
writer and often participates on panels or as a guest speaker
at conventions like Comic Con International.
to Los Angeles in 1996 from Cheney, WA (population approximately
8,000), knowing she wanted to be part of the animation business.
Since then, she's never strayed far from making that dream reality,
whether it be actively working on a production or writing articles
about the industry.
You can email
Shannon Muir at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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