Member Snapshot: Lexis Rangell-Onwuegbuzia

Student, Columbia University and GKIDS Marketing Intern

April 2022,  Interview facilitated by Tracey Miller-Zarneke

What is your earliest memory of being interested in animation?

I definitely think it was while I watching Avatar: The Last Airbender. I was very young when I watched it, like 5 or 6, and I remember that I would spend way too long in the bath tub pretending to be a water bender.

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

My favorite animated character is a definitely a tie between Garnet from Steven Universe and Uncle Iroh from Avatar: The Last Airbender. They’re both so wise and I genuinely find myself turning to their advice whenever I’m in a rut. I could just imagine them having a pot of tea together and musing about the wonders of the world. They’re both strong but in a tame way, and they hide their feelings for the sakes of others but also become vulnerable when it’s important. I think I relate a lot to those qualities, so I find comfort in them.

What part of your studies have you enjoyed the most?

Learning languages! My major is East Asian Languages and Cultures, and within that I’ve been able to study Japanese for four years, and I’m studying Korean right now as well. Nothing opens up paths to communication quite like learning a new language. It’s refreshing, fun, and essential to learning more about the world around us!

What do you see for yourself in 5 years? 10 years?

In five years, I should be close to completing my PhD on Blackness in anime representation and in the anime industry. In ten years, I hope to work in production management within the animation and/or anime industry!

Who or what inspires your work?

Lately, I’m extremely inspired by LeSean Thomas. I admire his audacity to enter the anime industry, which is an industry that is not easily accessible to foreigners, let alone Black foreigners. But he let his passion for anime drive him more than a fear of being rejected, and I find that extremely admirable. I hope to work in the anime industry one day, and knowing that he was able to achieve it inspires me to keep going and learning and never give up!

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

WIA has opened so many doors that were closed to me only a year ago. I’ve met people who make me feel seen, heard, and supported as a trans student/professional in animation. Not to mention, the dual emphasis on learning and networking is amazing. It doesn’t feel as sterile as a job board, but it’s clear that the org isn’t here to waste anyone’s time. That model makes me feel very respected and well-resourced. I don’t think I’d be in the position I am within the animation industry without WIA.

How long have you been a member of WIA?

I’ve been a member since May 2021, so just short of a year!

What have you enjoyed most about being part of WIA?

The people!!! Meeting people in the Age of Zoom is so tough, but especially within the animation industry. But literally every WIA member that I’ve met has been extremely kind, supportive, and friendly!

Any other insights or experiences regarding your pursuit of an education leading to work in animation that you would like to share with our membership?

You do not have to major in animation if you don’t want to be an animator!! It’s okay to branch out and explore other topics of study, to be confused and take time to find out what you care about. Passion is important, but that doesn’t mean that animation has to be your life 24/7—you’ll burn yourself out. Take the time that you have in school to explore all of your interests rather than boxing yourself in. You might not get that chance again once you enter the working world, so make the most of it! Also—STOP WORRYING ABOUT YOUR GPA!! YOU’LL BE FINE!!