Having made an ongoing commitment to bring gender parity to animation by 2025, WIA’s mentorship program connects women and gender non-binary individuals at all levels of the industry—and who are pursuing a variety of creative roles—to knowledgeable mentors, who can advise them on their next professional steps, and help them meet their career goals. While the 2021 program was conceived with women of color in mind, applications are open to all.
Though the Covid-19 pandemic has made in-person gatherings trickier, the quarantine period has inspired WIA to go virtual, launching a proprietary online platform, for the organization and management of mentorship groups. The organization’s embrace of virtual meetings means that it will be able to offer its services to a wider pool of animation talents. This year, 45 mentors (including some recruited and referred by WIA’s new partners) are expected to offer their time and share their industry skills with up to 400 mentees.
While the program started out in 2014 with only eight 1-on-1 pairings of mentors and mentees, its growth since has been exponential, with over 1,000 individuals benefiting from it. “We’re so proud of the tremendous success of this program,” said WIA President Marge Dean, “and the many careers the program has supported and inspired over the years.”
In terms of life experience and background, the 2021 Spring mentor pool is quite diverse. 73% are women/non-binary, and at least 48% are BIPOC, while 40% are internationally based. “I’m super excited to see this round of circles reflect the amazing range of perspectives, voices, and talents that can help the animation industry continue to grow and thrive,” said Aydrea Walden, who serves as WIA’s Mentor Coach.
WIA’s partner organizations are equally eager to kick off this year’s sessions.
“We’re very excited to be partnering with WIA… By having more mentors of color in these types of spaces it emphasizes that women of color, especially black women, are leaders in this industry – as they are often overlooked,” said Black N’Animated co-founders, Waymond Singleton and Breana Williams. “They are and always have been here, and are an inspiration for up and coming animation professionals.”
“Opportunities like these that are intentional and intersectional are often limited to a smaller cohort,” noted Bryan Dimas, co-founder and co-director of LatinX in Animation. “With WIA’s reach and the collective communities their Mentor Circles engage, we’re excited to scale our joint impact and support a vibrant generation of animation professionals.”
Added Rise Up Animation co-founder Monica Lago-Kaytis: “Mentoring the next generation of creative people of color and especially women of color in animation is a gift that we get to pay forward as industry professionals. We need to raise those diverse voices up now!”
Menteee applications will be accepted beginning March 31, and subsequently, mentor-mentee circles will take place over the course of four months. For the first time ever, WIA members—as well as members of their three partner organizations—will be permitted to apply for free.
A non-profit designed to support the creation of “richer and more diverse entertainment and media that move our culture forward,” Women In Animation was founded in 1995.