Black Girl Animators Collective (BGAC)


In recent years, television and film animation have made headlines for progress in inclusive storylines, including historic same-sex relationships and plus-size superheroes. Unfortunately, though, a new study from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative discovered that the same spirit of representation doesn’t appear to have spread to those working behind the scenes.

According to the new study, over the past 12 years, only 3% of animated movies were directed by women, Varietyreported. That number is even smaller among women of color — Jennifer Yuh Nelson, who directed Kung Fun Panda 2, was the only woman of color to direct an animated film.

When it came to women directors working on television series, the number improved, but only slightly, Varietyreported. Thirteen percent of animated programs that aired in 2018 were directed by a woman, and just three of those directors were women of color.

In a statement, Marge Dean, the president of Women in Animation, the organization that collaborated with USC on the study, commented on the findings, saying, “This study validates what we have known all along, that women are a hugely untapped creative resource in the animation industry. Now that we have a greater understanding of how the numbers fall into place and what solutions may help rectify this deficiency, we can take bigger strides toward our goal of 50-50 by 2025.”

Even with a continued focus on more diverse characters, the study noted that Hollywood still has work to do. Out of 120 recent films, only 17% had a female character as the star or costar. Television animation actually did better in this regard, with 39% of 100 animated TV series featuring a female lead or co-lead.

In response to these findings, the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative called for “industry-wide efforts” for change, and suggested creating workplaces where women feel welcome, adjusting the use of pronouns to become inclusive of all genders, and encouraging discussions between employees about cultural differences.

This study isn’t the first time that others have called for change in the world of animation. The Black Girl Animators Collective (BGAC) previously spoke with Teen Vogue about their work, and shared their hope for eventually seeing animation that’s representative of everyone.

“In animation, you don’t really see any women at all,” Taylor K. Shaw, BGAC founder said. “You see a few white women, very few women of color, and hardly any black women at all. What we’re doing [here] is transforming the media landscape and making sure that women of color are included in this space.”

Credit: Teen Vogue