KingstOOn Spotlights Diversity in Animation


The KingstOOn Animation Conference and Film Festival, scheduled to take place virtually from April 21 to 25, has set “Diversity in Animation” as the central theme for this year’s event.

The organizers have structured three distinct sessions focusing on the issues of diversity and cultural inclusion within the media: Diversity in the Media Industry, Black Women in the World of Animation and a conversation around the Academy Award-winning short film Hair Love.

KingstOOn’s animation specialist, Robert Reid, said: “The media influences us all from a very early age, the music we listen to, the books we read, the films we watch and the video-games we play—these become our frames of reference and so it is crucial that the characters and messages in media reflect as much as possible the diversity that exists in the world.”

KingstOOn panelists Jay Francis, Disney’s VP of current series, diversity and inclusion, and Camille Eden, VP of recruiting and talent development at Nickelodeon, will discuss inclusion and minimizing disparity in content creation. The panel will be moderated by Mounia Aram, founder and president of the Mounia Aram Company, a production and distribution house that markets African animation stories, movies and series to international audiences. The Diversity in Media Industry session will take place on April 24 at 12 p.m.

Melanie Goolsby of Netflix; Sonya Carey, founder of The Animation Lounge; Kimberly Wright of Sesame Street Workshop; and Pilar Newton of Pilar Toons will take part in the Black Women in the World of Animation session. The panel will be moderated by Taylor K. Shaw, founder and CEO of Black Women Animate, a creator, writer and activist who lobbies for representation across the media landscape. This panel will be aired on April 25 at 12 p.m.

The Creation of Hair Love—From Script to Screen session will feature Carl Reed and David Steward II, founders of Lion Forge Animation and advocates of representation in media. They will be joined by Everett Downing Jr., who co-directed the short film, alongside Matthew Cherry and Bruce W. Smith, as well as Hair Love story artist and illustrator Pearl Low.