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.
President, Women In Animation