Netflix Animation Foundation Program Spotlights Indigenous and Veterans Groups

In its second year, the initiative taps IllumiNative and Veterans in Media & Entertainment to identify early creatives from underrepresented communities

netflix animation foundations

Netflix Animation Foundation has joined Veterans in Media & Entertainment and IllumiNative in its search for creatives in animation from Native American/Alaskan and veteran communities for the program’s second session, Netflix announced on Friday.

The program begins April 11 and runs through July 29.

Netflix said in a statement, “Stories like (pre-school series) ‘Spirit Rangers,’ (computer-animated mini-series) ‘Maya and the Three’ and ‘Over the Moon’ (a computer-animated musical series celebrating Chinese culture) help us see new perspectives and bring us closer to each other. With better representation in the animation industry, we can bring more of these types of stories to the world. That starts by building access for underrepresented talent to talent to better compete with for entry-level roles in animation — which usually go to people from top animation schools or referrals from industry connections.”

Veterans in Media & Entertainment (VME) is a professional association of U.S. military veterans working in, or aspiring to work in the media and entertainment industries. The group has 4,800 members nationwide and spans professionals in film, television, commercials, digital media, theater, music, animation and gaming.

IllumiNative is a national, Native-woman-led nonprofit which according to the statement is “dedicated to increasing the visibility of Native peoples and challenging and changing the narrative about native peoples.”

Last year, the mentorship program focused on LatinX animators as well as animation talent among the autistic creatives by partnering with LatinX in Animation (LXiA) representing creatives an animation, VFX and gaming, and Exceptional Minds, the only autism education organization providing technical instruction in the digital arts. The first program brought together 74 mentees and 19 Netflix animation mentors studying art and visual development, storyboarding, CG/VFX, writing and production management.

Along with technical skill training, the mentees received career advice, guidance with creating professional portfolios, writing samples and resumes in order to prepare them to apply for internships, other training programs or entry-level positions in animation.

Mentees from last year’s program offered hearty praise for the experience. Some samples from their statement:

  • “I learned so much about writing for animation. It was so much fun to write a fake episode for a show we loved and to adapt to the writing style and comedy.” — Katherine McSpadden (Writing Group)
  • “This was such a wonderful program! I came in not knowing much about the animation industry and production management for animation, but now, I am leaving with a wealth of knowledge that my mentor, Pam Coats, bestowed on me.” — Valeria Valdes Cosilion (Production Group)
  • I’m happy to have had the pleasure to connect with other artists; they have been very encouraging and have also helped me push myself. Throughout the mentorship, I gained a greater understanding of how to push storytelling, acting, staging, & composition within my storyboards.” — Yuri Pineda (Story Group)
  • “This program was so helpful as an aspiring storyboard artist trying to break in. My mentor showed us his creative process and was open to any questions from us. Just having first hand experience of someone creating a storyboard from a script was amazing to watch. All my niche questions were answered. I’ve learned so much. Thank you so much Netflix! Also to my mentor.” — Enacio Diaz (Story Group)