Hollywood Power Players: These Men Are Helping Achieve Gender Equity

Re-post of original article on usatoday.com   |   Written By Maria Puente, USA Today

Hollywood women fed up with their pitiful numbers behind the cameras have long agitated for more power. Now, more of the men with clout in showbiz have joined the cause.

They include men like Paul Feig, 58, whose career includes stints as an actor, producer, writer and director in a long list of successful films and TV shows, from “Freaks and Geeks” to the 2016 reboot of “Ghostbusters.”

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Mar 9 – Barbie: Finding Your Voice


Join us Tuesday Mar 9th, for a WIA Panel Discussion:

Barbie:  Finding Your Voice

Barbie. She’s an icon. A toy. A global brand with over 98% awareness around the world. She was created to be a vehicle for self-expression and dreams, but for most of her fifty years, she existed as the projection of society on a plastic doll, kept in a box, not able to speak for herself. With Youtube and the rise of influencers, we saw the opportunity to finally give Barbie a voice – a voice that could speak for herself and for girls and women around the world – for when Barbie speaks, people pay attention.  The Barbie character and her vlog resonated with demographics and gender across the board and has become an authentic and empowering reflection for women/ girls, generating over 10M subscribers. The Vlog has been called “The only good Youtuber” by Mashable and others, and continues to be applauded for it’s candor and authentic character and opinions.

This panel will explore how the Barbie Vlog and current Barbie Character were created: our goals, purpose, and process.

Panelists Include:

Nathan Baynard
Vice President, Global Brand Marketing – Barbie at Mattel

Julia Pistor
Creator and Writer / Creative Producer, BarbieVlog

Teale Sperling
Manager, Creative Content Mattel and Creative Producer, Barbie Vlog

America Young
Actress / Director, Barbie Vlog

The event will be moderated by Marge Dean, President of Women In Animation.


Wednesday March 9th, 2021
6:30 PST
Live on Zoom


Click the button below to submit your questions for the panel prior to the event.


Register to attend using the button below. This is a live event, open to WIA members and the general public.

Nov 18, 2020 Letter From WIA President Marge Dean

Dear Friends of WIA,

Kamala! How wonderful is it to see a woman reach the office of Vice President of the United States!  I saw so many photos of girls watching her on television with big eyes and glowing faces…young adult women proud and inspired to be ambitious and confident when they set their sights on high level goals…mothers happy to see the world open up for their daughters and softening for their sons. But for me, as an older woman, the joy was something different. She is not a role model for me, something that I aspire to be. She is a dream I never thought I’d live to see. After the disappointment of 2016, I became convinced that there was no chance that the US would catch up with the rest of the world where women are in key government leadership positions.

And then it happened, and I felt the earth shift under my feet. I stood a little more rooted in the ground, inhaled a little more of the air around me, and my presence solidified to be a little more pronounced. I think we’re going to be feeling the growing impact of this event for years to come as more and more women take positions of leadership in every aspect of our lives.

It’s time for the world to experience the full impact of female leadership. It won’t be perfect, but it will be different. With this election, I was also pleased to see more BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and LBGQTIA+ elected to office. This will change things, as they will approach leadership in ways we haven’t imagined before. The more diverse POVs that we have in the leadership pot, the wider the experience and understanding is, and the better things will get for everyone.

But diverse leadership only comes with commitment and hard work.

“The fabric of democracy is always fragile everywhere because it depends on the will of citizens to protect it, and when they become scared, when it becomes dangerous for them to defend it, it can go very quickly.”

-Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments)

2020 has been a year of revelations. This is partially because of Covid. We are not able to do the activities that have kept us distracted in the past from what was happening around us. Also, the life-threatening reality of Covid made it impossible to not see the dire state of our lives. We saw how vulnerable we are to a microscopic virus and how interconnected we are by both the spread of Covid, but also that our resistance depends on our cooperation with each other.

But we also got a good look at the dark underbelly of humanity, the life-threatening vitriol of racism and misogyny. It’s critical that we see it and remember that it is real. People are being murdered because of the color of their skin. Women are raped, abused and killed because of their gender. Queer folk are constantly in danger simply because they are who they are. Children are neglected. Disabled people are invisible and unrecognized as full human beings. The biases that we all know and practice, consciously or unconsciously, cost people their lives, their ability to support themselves and their families, and their opportunity to have a fully realized existence. This is the everyday reality for too many people. We must continue to see it, learn about it, confront it, and change it.

The single most powerful vaccine to all this is COMMUNITY. David & Goliath is a myth; it really doesn’t work that way. It takes a team or family or community of people to make change happen. Workplace abusers were taken down not when one woman spoke but when a group of women stood up. With natural disasters, neighbors and strangers step up to help those in peril. We donate money and volunteer hours to help because we feel the connection. The power of cooperation is almost unbeatable.

WIA has always been about strengthening and diversifying the animation community. To reach 50-50 by 2025, we know we have to make animation inclusive, not exclusive. From the beginning, WIA has been about bringing people together through our programs and networking events. Our mentoring program has not only given over 1,000 women a chance to learn and network in 2020, but also gave over 100 more people the opportunity to mentor and to give back to the community.

We recognize that building alliances with other advocacy groups will be the most powerful way for us to reach our goals of opening up the industry. Recently, WIA collaborated with Black N’ Animated to host a storyboard workshop through Six Point Harness. Hundreds of people applied and 250 (Zoom cap) were accepted into the full day event. It was a potent day of learning and an amazing community-building event.

We are looking to expand this practice of collaboration through other programs such as our Mentoring platform as well as the Talent Database. Speaking of that, if you are currently working or hope to work in the industry, please help yourself reach that goal by adding your profile to the WIA Talent Database. We have shared it with several of the major studios recently with great results, and everyone is excited to get their hands on it. In the next year, this will become a widely used tool of hiring managers at all the studios.

Please use this link to submit your information:

We continue to grow our virtual community with panels and other speaker events. For Halloween, we had our traditional HalloWIA party but in a pandemic-safe way as our first social virtual event. People showed off their costumes and had fun moving from Zoom breakout room to breakout room. Although talking about the industry or how to get a job is important, it’s also necessary that folks just get to hang out together and enjoy that sense of community.

It’s been a crazy and tumultuous time. No doubt it will continue to be that way.   It’s a fine line that we have to walk to keep ourselves hopeful but also see things for what they really are. If you’ve recently been politically active, then don’t stop!  And if you haven’t been, consider volunteering for something. It almost doesn’t matter what. Getting outside of yourself and helping others (even virtually) is the best remedy for that sense of lock down isolation. Reach out to WIA or any of the other advocacy groups–we need all the help we can get. Working toward building the community puts you in the heart of it.  And that’s the safest place to be when the going gets rough.


Marge Dean
President, Women In Animation



Join Michael Rianda, the director of Sony Pictures Animation’s upcoming “Connected” as he shares with wild-eyed enthusiasm everything he’s ever learned about storytelling!



NOV 1  •  NOV 8  •  NOV 15  •  NOV 22




Why stories are important and how your story could CHANGE LIVES AND THE WORLD?!

How to make clear, great, professional storyboards!

How to tell stories that make the audience genuinely care about your story!

How to use question and answer storytelling to make the audience an active participant in your story!

How to convince legitimate businesspeople to give a project to YOU, a ridiculous cartoon-loving child!

How to become a Story Wolf, howling into the night – eyes glowing with storytelling power!

And for a limited time only – if you act now – he will reveal the one weird trick that will make you the greatest storyteller of all time!*

* I mean, he’ll try at least. He’s not a miracle worker. But it’s true that many of his former students are now genuine storyboarding bad-asses with real jobs and everything. (How much he had to do with that is debatable.) But he does care a lot, knows some stuff, and will do his best.



Why does story matter, you ask? How can your stories potentially change lives and the world? Mike will share his experiences and teach you how to make clear storyboards that anyone can understand – from a kid to a studio exec to your weird uncle!

November 1 – WIA Members

Ever wonder how to create a story that makes the audience care about your characters? This class will focus on how to tell meaningful stories, with a focus on structure and development, including the use of contrast to create interesting stories and great characters! It’s almost too much for one class – watch Mike talk really fast and sweat a lot!

November 8 – WIA Members

A Comprehensive List of All the Other Things Mike has Ever Learned! Question and Answer Storytelling! Observation and Innovation Vs. Cliché! Mike will share what he’s learned from over 10 years of telling stories at the top animation studios in town, and from directing his first-ever animated feature – and most importantly, how to destroy your own fear to become a superhuman storytelling warrior!

November 15 – WIA Members

In this final session, Mike will explore how to present your ideas in a way that will get other people as excited about your ideas as you are – including, The 25 Most Common Mistakes People Make when Pitching and the Top 25 Things You Can Do to Make Your Pitch Truly Great! And – How to Convince Legitimate Businesspeople to Give a Project to YOU, a Ridiculous Cartoon-Loving Child!

November 22 – WIA Members

November 15 – WIA Members


Black N’ Animated & Women In Animation Join Forces With Top Independent Studios To Offer A Free Storyboard Class


Class Will Be Held Virtual/Live On Zoom

Saturday, November 7th



Black N Animated has teamed up with independent studios Oddbot, Six Point Harness, Titmouse, Renegade and Powerhouse to hold a virtual, day long storyboarding class in collaboration with Women in Animation!

Over the course of the day-long workshop, participants will be given practical guidance, useful skills, and a familiarity with different positions and career opportunities in the animation industry.

With sessions led by top artists in the industry, the day will cover boarding from script pages, boarding for action shows, boarding for comedy, and boarding for primetime. At the end of the workshop, participants will receive handouts and assignments to complete a story test for review by one of the participating studio partners!

The class will be open to college-level students all the way up to working professionals, specifically to benefit people of color. The program will accept the first 250 applicants who qualify, and will be delivered in a format established and proven successful by Six Point Harness. 



Noëlle Raffaele is a director and story artist in the tv and feature animation industry.  She hails from New York City, where she graduated from The Cooper Union School of Art and got her start in TV concept art and motion graphics animation. In pursuing a path towards narrative animation, Noëlle relocated to LA where she completed the UCLA Animation Workshop and got her start at Six Point Harness. Her credits include The Legend of the Three Caballeros, (Disney+), Everstar (TV pilot – Amazon), Lizzie (Dreamworks TV), RadLands, Monster High (Mattel), Barbie: Super Sparkle (Mattel) and The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. She later became a full-time story artist for Warner Bros. Feature animation, where she worked on Ninjago (2017), S.C.O.O.B. (2020), and development for Space Jam 2, Billion Brick Race, and other yet to be announced titles. Noëlle debuted as a director on the first two seasons of Warner Bros. DC Superhero Girls, where she directed the premiere TV movie and 17 episodes. Since then she directed on a feature project in development at Dreamworks Animation, was Head of Story on a short to be released from Taiko Studio, and has most recently been doing story work on a project in development by Brad Bird. 


Bryan Newton is a Director and Storyboard Artist, known for his work on such television shows as Rick and Morty and Teen Titans Go!


Emmy Award-winning Matt Danner is an established Creator, Executive Producer, and Writer/Director in the animation industry. He has worked with Disney, Nickelodeon, Warner Brothers, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and Mattel, among others. His development deals with Disney and Warner Bros have spawned multiple series.  Matt has entertained audiences with his work on such projects as THE LOONEY TUNES SHOW, MICKEY MOUSE SHORTS, GRAVITY FALLS, and has directed three feature length films for the HOT WHEELS franchise. He also co-authored a book with Fantagraphics Books entitled SOCK MONKEY: INTO THE DEEP WOODS. Matt is currently the Exec Producer and Supervising Director for MUPPET BABIES for Disney Junior. He spearheaded the development of the show and is writing episodes as well. Matt is also the voice of KERMIT THE FROG, ROWLF THE DOG, WALDORF, BEAKER and SWEDISH CHEF. Matt has been nominated for 5 Emmys for Muppet Babies for the Writing, Producing, Directing categories and won for his performance as Kermit.


His other producing/directing credits include XIAOLIN SHOWDOWN, DONALD DUCK: LEGEND OF THE THREE CABALLEROS, DAN VS, JOHNNY TEST, WANDER OVER YONDER, YOGI BEAR, JETSONS, FLINTSTONES, SCOOBY DOO, WWE SLAM CITY, MUCHA LUCHA, COCONUT FRED, and Adult Swim’s THE DRINKY CROW SHOW. Matt Danner and his Dannerland Productions have close business relationships with a variety of studios in Los Angeles, England, Australia, Canada, Israel, Mexico, and Transylvania. Together they continue to innovate the worlds of animation, toys, and gaming with EPIC, COMEDIC, QUALITY CONTENT while always keeping an eye to the future.

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