Member Snapshot: Giezelle Bernal


May 2022, Interview facilitated by Tracey Miller-Zarneke

What is your earliest memory of being interested in animation?

When I was a kid, I mostly watched cartoons, especially those on Cartoon Network. My favorite show as a child was The Powerpuff Girls because it was unlike any other girly show I’d watched before. I am a fiery tomboy, and that show not only attracts little girls, but teenage men as well. As I got older, I was obsessed with Nintendo and discovered the term “anime.” The “cute” with a serious undertone is what caught my attention–maybe it’s the irony that people think animation is for kids, but everyone secretly watches cartoons.

What is your favorite animated movie or animated character, and why?

I would have to say Chihiro or Sen from Spirited Away. She can be a bit whiny at first, but also very perseverant. I could relate to her as an adolescent.

Which school did you attend?

Academy of Art University

Can you please describe how you got to your current role? What are some of the challenges you had to face to get there?

I am currently a freelance animator for Apeship Entertainment, where we are currently making a short movie for the Sundance Film Festival. They saw my portfolio during Career Week at the Academy of Arts University and asked if I wanted to do cleanup and compositing and I said “sure!” The biggest challenge is the learning process, which means trying to get around with several software tools that I’m familiar with. Sometimes I have to revise the scene several times to its final polish before the deadline. It can be tedious at times, but as a result, it is very rewarding!

What is your favorite part of your role?

One of my favorite parts is learning a new skill while working as a freelancer. Also, I am invested into looking at other’s artwork that I’m currently collaborating with. We communicate virtually, so it’s more of a telework.

Who were/are your mentors, inside or outside of animation? How have they affected you?

Some of my recent mentors from art school were Becky Johnson and Daisy Church, two counselors from Academy of Art University; Bryan from Level Up Media and Game Mixer Dev; Wilma Miranda and Javier from Apeship Entertainment; and finally Aurora Bataclan from Toastmasters. These people not only helped me get to where I am at now, but also helped me develop to be a better person!

Who or what inspires your work?

Too many animators to name!! Here is a short list: Genndy Tartakovsky, Osamu Tezuka, Hayao Miyazaki, and Mike Mignola (especially for the thick black outlines and shadows).

Do you have any advice for others who want to break into the animation industry?

Learn new skills, tell your own story, and put your art and demo reel out there, especially online. Use many platforms like Instagram or Vimeo and you might be surprised that somebody from a big industry will see it. However, my one big piece of advice to all artists breaking into the industry is meet new people, including professionals, grow your network and develop good relationships with them! It doesn’t matter how unique and/or technically talented you are until you get out of your comfort zone and start interacting!

Why is an organization like Women In Animation important to you?

As a woman, I believe this organization will someday empower everyone, especially minorities in a male-dominated industry.

How long have you been a member of WIA?

About 2 years.

What have you enjoyed most about being part of WIA?

I haven’t really had the chance to visit WIA events in person, but online, what I have enjoyed is many faces of female artists telling their own success and failures that could empower young artists alike!