By ESTHER ANIMALU
Cartoon Network Studios is partnering with animation house Black Women Animate to establish the Black in Animation Awards Show.
The online event will be held Sunday and aims to recognize Black creatives who have left a tremendous mark and continue to do so within the field of animation.
“This is a time to celebrate and honor Black creatives who often do not get the recognition that they deserve within the media industry,” said JLove Calderón, the managing partner of Black Women Animate. “Many Black animators have been doing this work for so long and are often overshadowed. This awards show will not only pay respect to them but also inspire the next wave of future Black animators, producers and creatives alike.”
The inaugural ceremony will be hosted by Grammy-winning artist Estelle, who voices one of the characters on the Cartoon Network series Steven Universe. Estelle will perform as well.
“When JLove and I came up with the idea, we were surprised to learn that there wasn’t already a platform to celebrate Black animators yet,” said Taylor K. Shaw, founder and CEO of Black Women Animate.
“This is so important in this moment because we have had a very challenging year, and this year for Black people especially, has not been the easiest. As we think about the way this country and the entertainment industry is going, it’s even more critical that Black folks are being centered and honored for our contributions to the media and animation industry.”
Black Women Animate, also known as BWA, was founded by Shaw in collaboration with Calderón, the organization aims to create content and offer production-related services to other studios and companies within the animation industry.
“The name of our studio is very intentional; it serves as a call to action that our studio is a place to support the rise of Black female talent in animation,” Calderón said. “When we first started, we were told that no one was going to work with us due to our name. Fast forward three years later, when you are focused on authentic representation it makes a greater impact in our content, mission and influence on the entertainment industry.”
BWA is run by Black female creative professionals and focuses on hiring and creating content produced by minorities.
“We are a mission-driven animation studio it is our goal to create awesome content that is reflective of the African diaspora,” Shaw said. “And while doing that, we want to make sure that we are consciously hiring Black women, women of color and non-binary people of color. We exist as a studio to amplify creativity and Black talent.”
BWA hopes that the award show and future events the studio is planning can help inspire the next generation of creatives.
“My message to the future generation of creators is you can, and you will,” said Shaw. “And these people that you are watching in the award show are examples of what is possible to become in the field of animation and beyond as well. Keep your dream alive.”
The inaugural Black in Animation Awards show will be broadcast online on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. Viewers must register to watch the show at BWA’s website.