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Cartoon Network celebrated its female creators at the Annecy Animation Festival with an evening panel that brought together Julia Pott, Eva Lee Wallberg and Lauren Sassen to talk about their careers.
The festival has addressed equality in animation all week, starting with the festival’s Women in Animation summit Monday, carrying through the keynote talks and the festival’s signing on to the 50-50 by 2020 charter that was launched in Cannes.
The trio is behind Cartoon Network series Summer Camp Island (Pott), The Heroic Quest of the Valiant Prince Ivandoe (Wallberg) and We Bare Bears (Sassen).
Turner Europe, Middle East and Africa chief content officer Patricia Hidalgo started the session by bringing up an internal study by the channel, which says that only 25 percent of children’s shows airing on the main international children’s channels are created by women.
“That is something we as an industry need to play a part in changing,” Hidalgo told THR. “Diversity in creators, of course, also means diversity in shows and the stories and audiences they represent. We are seeing a growing number of girls watching Cartoon Network shows and a lot of our shows have really strong female characters.”
Gumball is one of those and Hidalgo noted that for the first time ever, the show boasts 55 percent female animators. She also said the channel’s global artists program is now female-led, with four women producing shows for Cartoon Network, and the channel announced earlier this week that it is sponsoring a female student to attend The Animation Workshop at VIA University in Denmark.
Each panelist talked about multiple failures, before getting to their current success, as well as several times they wanted to quit. For all the empowerment talk, it was telling to note that when it came time for audience questions, the theme repeated itself: How do you have confidence? The panelists answered it in various ways, mostly saying that even if you don’t, you just keep going regardless.
“The pressure you put on yourself, it’s always can I do what I want to do, is it possible? It can get really heavy,” said Sassen.
As the trio of creators shared their stories, Hidalgo assured the men in the room: “We support talent whether female or male, so boys out there, don’t worry, we care about you.”
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