Sitting at her desk at home in California, surrounded by art from Anu Chouhan, Gabby Zapata and Noor Safi, Sneha Shukla has come a long way in her animation career. And now she wants to help others do the same.
Since her first day of animation school, Shukla didn’t really known where she fit in this industry. First she tried graphic design for South Asian hip-hop artists, but her parents wanted her to do something more stable. So she enrolled in animation at California College of the Arts—but that didn’t work. “I ended up not liking it at all,” she says about her first animation class. Then Shukla specialized in texturizing, “but I couldn’t see myself doing that for 10 years,” she says.
She tried her hand at character effects, and spent five years working on everything from the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast to Game of Thrones to Hotel Transylvania 3. But endless contracts in multiple cities left her feeling lost. Then she landed at Netflix, and her career took an entirely different path.
Instead of continuing her work in CFX, she’s now a recruitment researcher working at Netflix Animation, finding talent and matching them with the SVOD’s productions.
“I had never even thought of recruiting. I didn’t know I could have a career in that because nobody talks about it,” says Shukla. “I thought about all of the recruiters I had been in touch with, how much they had impacted my life, and how, to this day, I still remember every recruiter I talked to who vouched for me.”
Since joining Netflix, she has contributed to recruitment research on her “dream project” Pashmina.
Based on the bestselling teen graphic novel by Indian American author/illustrator Nidhi Chanani, the CG-animated musical film is created in partnership with LA-based Hyde Park Entertainment (The Journey Home, Legends of Oz) and London’s Bend It Films (Bend It Like Beckham). The graphic novel tells the fantasy-adventure story of Priyanka, a first-generation American teenager of Indian descent who discovers a magical pashmina and uses it to learn the truth about her mysterious family history.
To staff the project, Shukla began her search with a callout on Twitter, and then turned to Instagram.
When she gets involved in a project, Shukla meets with the production team first to get an understanding of what they want. While she sometimes scours platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn or even IMDb, the majority of her hunt is conducted on Instagram, where she seeks out people posting images that suit the look of the project.
In particular, she sees Instagram as a search engine for work that might not be submitted through more traditional portfolios—art that reflects unique cultural backgrounds (particularly important as she hunts for BIPOC creatives) or passion projects.
Shukla can’t talk about her current projects, but she’s turned her attention to recruiting Anu Chouhan, whose art hangs on her home office wall. “It’s really interesting to see these artists that I know become big names that everyone wants to hire,” says Shukla. “And now I’m in the position of hiring, which is really cool.”